SIAM News Blog

New Developments Regarding SIAM’s Prize Program

By James Crowley

SIAM is in the process of standardizing prize nomination procedures. This is motivated by numerous requests from prize selection committees who have had to deal with a bewildering array of submissions. Submitted nominations currently range from two to five nomination letters, which are anywhere between two and 10 pages long, per individual. Committees may be bombarded with 50 emails supporting the nomination of one person, and none for the other nominees. Arguing that the quality of the nomination, rather than the volume of the package, should determine the winner, committee chairs have requested a more standard set of rules.

Additionally, SIAM has seen an increasing number of activity group (SIAG) prizes, which are administered by SIAM staff and thus warrant special software to facilitate the submission and review process. The software is more rigid regarding what it will accept, further necessitating the need to streamline the submission process.

SIAM is currently testing the newly-implemented software system, which was used to manage nominations for a subset of prizes this year. The system will be refined for next year’s prize submissions, based on the results.

SIAM thanks everyone who submitted a nomination this year for their time, effort, and patience.

Furthermore, the SIAM Council, which oversees the prize program headed by the Vice President at Large (currently Ilse Ipsen), approved further changes to the program. These changes will go into effect on January 1, 2017.

SIAM has also moved away from prize selection committees deliberating at the table and simply picking a prize winner, for good reason. While this practice was not uncommon many years ago, it has been discouraged in recent years to ensure a fair system that avoids an “old boy’s network,” if you will, or an exclusive clique choosing from a narrow group of individuals. The system hence evolved into a process that considers only formal nominations that conform to the call for nominations.

However, it became clear that the prize selection committee must consider a reasonable number of nominations for such a system to be successful. This realization resulted in the SIAM Council’s stipulation of a three-nomination minimum for consideration by the prize committee.

Furthermore, since a lack of nominations indicates insufficient interest in a prize, repeated failure to reach the three-nomination minimum can result in the prize’s discontinuation.

  Jim Crowley is the executive director of SIAM. 
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