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.

One way or another, however, good mentoring is too often taken for granted. So in 2005 we created an award aimed at recognizing outstanding scientific mentorship. The Nature Awards for Mentoring in Science focus on a specific country or countries each year.

Nature Awards for Mentoring in Science - South of the United States (2018)

For its annual awards for science mentorship in 2018, Nature invites nominations of outstanding scientific mentors from the South of the United States, as defined by the US Census Bureau. Two prizes of $10,000 will be awarded, one for a mid-career mentor and one for life-time achievement in mentoring. For details on how to nominate people for this year’s competition, click here.

Previous awards

The 2017 awards - Spain

Joint-recipients of the lifetime achievement award:

  • Carlos Belmonte (founding Director of the Institute of Neuroscience of Alicante)
  • Margarita Salas (former Director of the CSIC Centre for Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa)

Joint-recipients of the mid-career achievement award:

  • Carlos López-Otín (University of Oviedo)
  • Lluís Torner (founding Director of the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona)

2016 awards - US West Coast (Washington, Oregon and California)

  • Lifetime achievement award: Julie Overbaugh (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center)
    Mid-career award: Susan L. Forsburg (The University of Southern California)

2015 awards - China

  • Lifetime achievement: Xuetao Cao, President of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Xing-Wang Deng, Dean of the School of Advanced Agricultural Sciences at Peking University
    Mid-career award: Hong-Bing Shu, Dean of Life Sciences and Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at Wuhan University

2014 awards - Ireland and Northern Ireland

  • Lifetime achievement: Cliona O'Farrelly (Trinity College Dublin) & Martin Clynes (Dublin City University)
    Mid-career award: Cormac Taylor (University College Dublin)

2013 awards - Italy

  • Lifetime achievement: Giorgio Parisi (University of Rome I, La Sapienza) & Vincenzo Balzani (University of Bologna).
    Mid-career award: Michela Matteoli (University of Milan)
  • 2013 award page
  • Nature coverage
  • italy mentors

2012 awards – Nordic Countries

  • Lifetime achievement: Staffan Normark (The Royal Swedish Academy of Science)
    Mid-career award (joint winners): Jens Nielsen (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden) & Anders Hagfeldt (Uppsala Universitet)
  • 2012 award page
  • Nature coverage

2011 awards - France

  • Lifetime achievement (joint winners): Jean Rossier (ESPCI ParisTech, Paris) & Moshe Yaniv (Pasteur Institute, Paris)
    Mid-career award: Barbara Demeneix (UMR CNRS Evolution des Régulations Endocriniennes, Paris))
  • 2011 award page
  • Nature coverage
  • french mentors

2010 awards - Canada

  • Lifetime achievement award: Chris Wood (McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario)
    Mid-career award: John Smol (Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario)
  • 2010 award page
  • Nature coverage
  • canada mentors

2009 awards - Japan

  • Lifetime achievement: Fumio Oosawa (Aiichi Institute of Technology).
    Mid-career award: Hiroaki Kitano (Sony Computer Science Laboratories Inc.)
  • 2009 award page
  • Nature coverage
  • japan mentors

2008 Awards - Germany

  • Lifetime achievement award (joint winners): Klass Bergmann (Technical University of Kaiserslautern) and Heinrich Betz, director of the Max Planck Institute for Brain research, Frankfurt
  • Mid-career achievement award: Peer Bork (European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg)
  • 2008 award page
  • Nature coverage

2007 Awards – South Africa

  • Lifetime achievement: Professor Barry Fabian (University of the Witwatersrand)
  • Mid-career award: Professor Charles de Koning (University of the Witwatersrand)
  • 2007 award page
  • Nature coverage

2006 Awards – United Kingdom and Australasia

United Kingdom

  • Lifetime achievement (joint winners): Andrew McMichael (Wetherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford) and Godfrey Hewitt (University of East Anglia)
  • Mid-career award: Steve Watson (University of Birmingham)
  • 2006 (UK) award page
  • Nature coverage


2005 Awards – United Kingdom