School Prizes presented at Review of the Year 2020

Published on 20 January 2021

Review of the Year 2020 took place virtually today with the Dean, Inke Nathke sharing the highlights of activity within the School from 2020 which was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Review included the presentation of the annual School prizes, many were awarded in recognition of how many members of our School community worked so hard to ensure the School could still undertake its work while ensuring the safety for all. The People’s Award, the newly established Dean’s Commendation and Merit Award and PiCLS Best Mentor Award recognised some of those people. Here are the winners:

People’s Award

The People’s Award is for positive contributions to School culture. There were three winners:

  1. Individual Award: Natalie Bamford for her leadership of the SLSRSA, and for spearheading the revival of the Careers in Academia and Beyond seminar series​.
  2. Team Award: Biological Services team ​for the outstanding way they responded to the Covid-19 crisis, managing animal numbers and care under very difficult circumstances​. In response to their win, Carol Clacher, Facility Manager said, “Biological services is a big team, and every single member of that team has been absolutely incredible during this pandemic and will continue to do so. This award is for each and every one of us, for always doing the very best we can do to ensure every single animal under our collective care is treated with its best interests at heart, and always will because we all do our jobs well and effectively. This is a welcome and well-earned recognition of the entire team from Luke and Ngaire to all of us, the fabulous dedicated animal techs, the part time cage wash staff, because without each and every one of us the team that we are wouldn't exist and work so well.​”
  3. Special Commendation: Lab Management Team​ for also making a significant contribution to the School, the panel wished that this is acknowledged.​
  • Dean’s Special Commendation to Zoe Hirons (Research Administration Lead)
  • Dean's Merit Award for extraordinary service to the School of Life Sciences​ was awarded to Letty Gibson​ (Research School Laboratory Services Manager) and Lisa Grayson (Head of SLS Safety)​

Lisa Grayson said in response to her award, "Thank you, Inke. This has been very much a team effort and, in my almost 28 years with the University, I’ve never been more proud of, or felt more grateful for, the friends and colleagues I work with. I’d like to thank everyone for sticking to the rules and doing their best to protect each other and get us all through this crisis together. I know it’s been challenging, and still is, in many ways, but you’ve all stepped up and shown your true colours, and they are amazing."

PiCLS Best Mentor Award

The PiCLS Best Mentor Award is presented to recognise a person who has proven to be great mentor to a postgraduate student. The Best Mentor was Mattie Pawlowic, a Principal Investigator in BCDD and WCAIR. Linda Sinclair, a postdoctoral researcher from Doreen Cantrell’s lab in CSI was named Best Postdoc Mentor.

A statement from the organising panel said, "The Best Mentor Award was a very rewarding prize to organise. Nominations were of a high standard and showed diversity in what supervisors in the SLS do to support their PhD Students. It was extremely encouraging and a privilege to read about supervisors going above and beyond to support their students in such a year as 2020, given the unprecedented challenges faced by both supervisors and students. This gave the judges a real challenge in choosing who should receive the Best Mentor Award, as many nominees were deserving.​ It is our absolute pleasure to congratulate Mattie Pawlowic on winning the best mentor award, and Linda Sinclair on receiving the best postdoctoral mentor award.”

Mattie said in response to her win, "Thanks to the lab for nominating me! Beatrice Colon, Ross Bacchetti, Emma Sands, Jack Hanna and other members past and present- Lee, Nina, Senyo Botchie. For the weekly lockdown chats, your hard work, and for making the lab fun."

Innovator of the Year

Innovator of the Year is for any member or team within SLS that demonstrably achieved scientific, technical or commercial innovation that came to fruition in 2020.

Best Innovation was awarded to Helge Dorfmueller from MMB for his work in developing a novel technology to develop the first recombinant ‘dual‐hit’ vaccine candidates to target the important human‐exclusive pathogen Group A Streptococcus (GAS)​. This technology was patented in 2020. The panel said, "The panel felt his work on a vaccine production system was outstanding, innovative and had the potential to revolutionise the production of affordable strep vaccines globally."​

There was also an Honourable Mention to MSci student, Oluwaseyi Jesusanmi for developing from scratch a system to automatically quantify animal behaviour from video. The panel said that this was “a thoroughly amazing piece of work."​

Howard Elder Prize

Howard Elder Prize is for a postgraduate student or postdoctoral researcher deemed to have published the most significant paper in an area related to cancer research. The award went to Claire Gorby from Ignacio Moraga's lab in CSI for her work published in Science Signaling, 'Engineered IL-10 variants elicit potent immunomodulatory effects at low ligand doses’"The judges congratulate Claire on her excellent study and the way she applied her knowledge of basic cytokine biology and translated it into a discovery that has the potential to improve the treatment of cancer patients."

Molecular and Cellular Biology Prize

Molecular and Cellular Biology Prize is for a postgraduate student or postdoctoral researcher to recognise excellence in basic research. The award went to Francisco Bustos from Greg Findlay's lab in the MRCPPU. It was in recognition for his research published in Developmental Cell, 'Functional diversification of SRSF protein kinase to control ubiquitin dependent neurodevelopmental signalling'.

The judging panel said, "The impressive range of techniques used to carry out these experiments are a real showcase of the specialities available in Dundee, and the potential medical implications of this work make this an interesting and highly impactful study, and a very worthy winner of the 2020 Cell and Molecular Biology Prize."

Brian Cox Prize for Excellence in Public Engagement with Research 

Engaged Researcher of the Year was jointly presented to two winners:

  • Michaela Omelkova, PhD student from Daan van Aalten’s lab, for her work on the Care to Share project. The judging panel said, "We were very impressed with the initiative shown by Miska, proposing her own projects which has led to substantial funding. In addition, engaging the primary stakeholders of her research (patients with ND) is extremely valuable not just for the patients but also for Miska's own research, and being able to pivot this project to a digital platform in light of covid restrictions."​
  • Diana Gudynaite from Nicola Stanley-Wall’s lab in MMB, for her diverse contributions to a number of public engagement activities throughout 2020. The judging panel said, "We felt that Diana's contributions to home learning throughout lockdown were very admirable. Alongside the other activities she has been involved in we are impressed by her public engagement activities."

Review of the Year 2020 presentation and recording is available to access for University of Dundee staff and students