Notice that I did not use the familiar phrase: Nobel Prize Winner. That is because Doug Prasher is a victim of circumstance, Nobel prize rules and a slowing research environment. You can read his full story here as provided by NPR, but the gist is that he was a scientist that provided a vital link in the research that culminated in this 2008’s Nobel prize win. However, because his funding ran out at a succession of research jobs, he is now under-employed as a courtesy shuttle driver in Hunstville, Alabama.
But he is a hero, because he did the unselfish and ethical thing: he shared the fruits of his research with other scientists and helped them to get to the Nobel prize. Heck, if the prize committee did not have the 3-person rule for awards, Doug might have found himself with winfall cash and an invitation to Sweden (do they pay for the airfare??) .
My advice to Doug: sell and write your story to Hollywood. If they could make a crummy movie about the guy who invented the windshield wiper, they can certainly make a movie about your story. I am hooked already, and have found your persistence and courage inspiring. You are not only putting your kids through college but also providing a vital service in our community. I can only hope that the added attention to your tale brings about a job offer in the scientific field where your contributions can make our economy grow (are you listening, President Obama??)
Now, the auto industry is slowing down; nobody is buying cars. I hope this does not result in further unemployement for our hero; the auto dealership should trump up the fact that a Nobel prize researcher works there. This could result in upscale clientele — people that don’t care if the new Toyota SUV only gives you 10 miles per gallon. Better yet, someone hire Doug to invent a car that runs on hot air; there’s plenty of that blowing around our state and federal government centers as they try to get their hands on our (and our children’s) money using the recession as an excuse…….
UPDATE: Our hero will be going to Stockholm after all !! The Nobel prize winners invited Doug and his wife to travel with them to Stockholm and be at the ceremony, where he will be thanked for his contribution. That’s how a real scientist behaves; kudos to all involved. Now don’t get me started talking about Rosalind Franklin and how Watson and Crick scammed her out of their Nobel Prize for their so-called discovery of the DNA double helix !!