Nature/NESTA awards for creative mentoring in science

The 2006 winners of the UK Nature/NESTA awards for Creative Mentoring in Science have been announced.

The mid-career prize was awarded to Steve Watson, professor at the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Birmingham.

There were two joint winners of the award for lifetime achievement: Andrew McMichael, director of the Wetherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, and Godfrey Hewitt, emeritus professor at the University of East Anglia.

Nature thanks all contributors for their nominations.

The awards

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Of all the activities that take place in the lab, perhaps the least remarked and the least rewarded is that of the mentorship of young researchers. True, some labs are well known for the stream of outstanding scientists that have emerged to go on to do great things. Some of these have leading individuals who have devoted much thought and effort to nurturing young researchers. But it is not often that their efforts are recognized.

Good young scientists might not need conscious mentoring; they may be stimulated or inspired simply by day-to-day interaction with a more experienced researcher — or one who is complementary in his or her thinking. But even the most independent-minded young tyros can benefit from advice from time to time, whether on lab practice or in channeling their energies. Others might need some systematic attention from a lab head to achieve their creative potential. Certainly, there is no easy definition of what good mentoring is.

The 2006 awards

Nature and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), the organisation that invests in UK creativity and innovation, are delighted to collaborate in sponsoring this year's awards to recognise outstanding achievement in scientific mentoring and the fostering thereby of scientific creativity.

There are two awards — one of �7,000 for lifetime achievement and another of �5,000 for scientists in mid-career. The awards were presented at a ceremony at the British Association annual meeting in Norwich on the 4th September 2006, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia.

Original specifications

Candidates for an award may be working in any discipline within the natural sciences. They may nominate themselves or be nominated by colleagues and ex-colleagues. Nominations for a candidate must include independent testimonials by at least five researchers mentored by their nominee, not all over the same period. Due to the terms of NESTA's remit, nominees for the awards must be resident in the UK at the time of the nomination. We have designed the nomination forms to allow nominators to describe what makes good mentorship in their own terms. We have also included optional questions that may help the judges and Nature capture and communicate specific aspects and techniques of successful mentoring.

People wishing to nominate candidates should use the form attached here. Nominess have to be aware of the nomination. People wishing to nominate themselves, or who were nominated by someone else, used the form attached here.

Panel of judges

  • Professor Nancy Rothwell FRS, School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester (chair)
  • Dr Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief, Nature
  • Professor Peter Knight FRS, Department of Physics, Imperial College
  • Professor Martin Poliakoff FRS, School of Chemistry, Nottingham
  • Professor Kathy Whaler, Grant Institute of Geology and Geophysics, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Innes Cuthill, University of Bristol


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