Lin Ostrom’s Life After Winning A Nobel Prize

A fun NPR interview with Elinor Ostrom on Life After Winning a Nobel Prize:

KELLY: Now, to a Nobel of a more recent vintage. Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Prize in economics last year for her analysis of economic governance. We’ve reached her in Bloomington, Indiana, where she lives and where she teaches at Indiana University. And, Professor Ostrom, how’s the last year gone?

Professor ELINOR OSTROM (Indiana University): Well, you have no warning of the heavy, heavy demands on you afterwards. It is a very great thrill to win a Nobel Prize, and I’m very, very appreciative. But I was not fully prepared for the amount of interest around the world. And I’m coping, but it’s been very intense.

KELLY: A lot of calls from people like us wanting to interview you and on speaking invitations, that type of thing. Is that what you mean?

Prof. OSTROM: Yes, yes. I’ve been receiving about 15 invitations a week, and I am no longer able to accept any talks during 2011.

KELLY: Wow.

Prof. OSTROM: And the accumulation for 2012 is piling up, and I’m going to have to tackle that in another couple of weeks.

KELLY: Well, do you enjoy doing this? It sounds like you’re traveling a lot, meeting interesting people.

Prof. OSTROM: Yes, I am traveling a lot, and I do enjoy it. But I also am teaching, and I have ongoing research and graduate students. And keeping up with it all is a challenge.

KELLY: Well, I have to ask, what did you do with the prize money?

Prof. OSTROM: Oh, well. We have a very, very active research center here at Indiana University. And our foundation is very responsible, so I gave the full sum to the Indiana University Foundation as part of an endowment to support ongoing research.

KELLY: You know, here’s one thing I wonder. Winning a prize as huge and prestigious as the Nobel could, I guess, influence you in a number of different ways. And I wonder does it, in some way, take a bit of the pressure off to have had your work – your lifetime’s work recognized at that kind of level? Does it take a bit of the pressure off in terms of what you feel you still have to do?

Prof. OSTROM: Oh, no.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KELLY: No?

Prof. OSTROM: I wasn’t aiming to win a prize. And so winning it doesn’t take pressure off in terms of future research. Colleagues and I have been puzzling about a variety of key issues. It’s a big challenge, and we’re still working on that.

KELLY: You were kind enough to speak to us last year when you won. And you are the first woman who won the Economics Nobel. I remember when we spoke to you last year, we asked you about that and whether this opens the door for more opportunities for women. Have you been able to see any of that come to fruition?

Prof. OSTROM: Yes, I think. I’m very pleased that women will not be facing the conditions that I faced where I was repeatedly asked why I needed education when I would be barefoot pregnant and in the kitchen.

KELLY: Oh, my.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Prof. OSTROM: So I think that phrase isn’t going to be repeated to current graduate students as frequently as I heard it.

KELLY: Good. Well, it’s been great speaking with you. Thanks so much, Elinor Ostrom.

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