Social Scientists Should Take a Gander at Golden Goose Award

Every year since 2012 a collection of American science associations hand out Golden Goose Awards to federally funded science that has made a signal difference in everyday lives which wasn’t obvious from the basic research. As the award organizers explain, “The Golden Goose Award honors federally funded researchers whose work may sound silly, odd, obscure, wasteful of taxpayer funding, or serendipitous, but has had a major positive impact on society.”

While the awards are made annually, and the recipients are all routinely worthy or recognition, social and behavioral science is not always represented every year. So Social Science Space is encouraging you to nominate social and behavioral scientists for the 2022 awards by December 17, the deadline for nominations for next year.

Past honorees have represented many corners of the scientific endeavor, including social scientists like:

  • Joel E. Cohen, a mathematical population biologist, and Christopher Small, a geophysicist, whose examination of “hypsographic demography”—the study of how human populations are distributed with respect to altitude – has improved packaging, manufacturing, tumor research and disaster preparedness.
  •  Mahzarin Banaji,  Anthony Greenwald and Brian Nosek, whose initial work on remembering famous names led to the creation and dissemination of the acclaimed  Implicit Association Test.
  • Walter Mischel, Philip Peake and Yuichi Shoda, whose work into impulse control – remember the famous ‘Marshmallow experiment’? – has revolutionized behavioral studies.

To nominate someone, follow this link, or visit the website goldengooseaward.org and click on “nominations” in the top right corner. The process after that is easy. Identify who you are nominating, what unexpected impact the research has had, and which U.S. federal agency funded the work. While you can always nominate someone, keep the December deadline in mind for the next award cycle.

The true focus of the award is to spotlight that government investment in basic research pays dividends, even if those benefits are crystal clear when the grants are made. Therefore, it’s probably not a surprise that a bipartisan ‘gaggle’ of American legislators – Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tennessee) ; Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon); Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Illinois); Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware); Rep. Bill Foster (D-Il); and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-New York) – are part of the award effort. “I hope,” said Cooper, known as “Father Goose” for his pioneering role in the group, “in this time of turmoil and trouble and worry and concern, that we can appreciate science more than ever and boost the budgets of government-funded programs so that more scientists can do more great work.”

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