Clemente, E. et al.
In an attempt to find a “public engagement activity” required for an upcoming grant application, third-year graduate student Tammy Jones was released from her PhD duties for a whole 45 minutes to attend a STEM-promoting school event, and put on such a good performance of feigned happiness that she earned an Oscar nomination for the role of “Mentally Healthy Person Happy With Their Life Choices”.
“I was slightly reluctant in running the workshop at first, since I hadn’t really spoken to anyone in more than 7 weeks, and was worried my voice would crack from the effort of talking for longer than three minutes straight.” (Three minutes is the time it takes for Jones to order a pizza on the phone).
“But then I quickly skimmed through the script when I was on the can, and it was actually really well written. It had all the major clichés, such as science degrees “opening doors” for you, and being ‘exciting,’ ‘stimulating,’ and ‘fulfilling,’ but added an innovative appeal to pathos, normally reserved for social work, by claiming these degrees ‘allow you to make a real difference in the world.’ Brilliant, really!”
“Fortunately, I got so carried away in my performance that we ran out of time for the Q&A bit of the workshop – I doubt I would have managed to keep it together if I had been forced to go off script.”
Sir Kevin Williams, chair of the committee responsible for selecting the winner of the award, released a thread on Twitter explaining their decision:
“Ms. Jones did an absolutely terrific job in this role. Members of The Academy were particularly touched by the student’s sincere expression when suggesting that she was “thrilled he decided to embark on this soul-destroying journey.” Also, we just felt bad for the fact that her PhD work will most likely not lead to a “publication that is read by more than 5 people, let alone to a Nobel Prize, so we thought this was the best we could do.”
Jones hopes that continuing to “method act” happiness with her PhD program will one day translate into research success.