Christoph A. Thaiss
Assistant Professor of Microbiology, Penn Institute for Immunology
Beyond the Prize: The impact on personal and professional growth
As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the Science & SciLifeLab Prize, we took the opportunity to catch up with one of our past winners, Christoph A. Thaiss, Grand Prize Winner of 2018.
What has been the biggest outcome for you personally winning the prize?
The visit to Sweden, the award ceremony, and being able to join the Nobel banquet have been very inspiring and memorable. These events have left a long-lasting impression on me. Some of the people I have met during the trip have become close friends, so I have many fond memories of the activities surrounding the prize.
What has been the biggest outcome for your career winning the prize?
I was able to start my own lab immediately after completing graduate school, and the prize has been enormously helpful in jump-starting my research program. Many of the people I have met as part of the award ceremony and the visit to Sweden, or even people who contacted me after reading the essay online, have become scientific collaborators during the first few years of my research group.
What would you like to say to someone who is thinking of applying?
One of the great opportunities of the application is to think about the big-picture implications of your work. This is something we scientists don’t do very often, but is actually critical not only for communicating our research to a broader audience, but also in terms of setting our own research goals and priorities. Condensing all the research of your PhD work into a 1000-word essay is a great way to distill out the major highlights of what you have achieved, and what they mean in terms of pushing the envelope in your specific field and beyond.