Meet The Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Winners

Meet The Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Winners
7 months ago

Meet The Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Winners

We’re delighted to announce the winners of our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021!

The Lab Heroes Awards™ were launched back in 2017 with the goal of recognising and celebrating the unsung champions of the life sciences industry; the life scientists who make a big difference in their labs every day.

This year, our fifth year of running the awards, we were blown away to receive over 500 nominations for 68 superstar scientists – the most nominations we’ve ever had! The nominations were judged by a panel of distinguished and award winning scientists, including Professor Elek Molnár of the School of Pharmacology and Neuroscience, University of Bristol, UK.

As it has been for the last four years, selecting our winners was an incredibly difficult task – because each and every scientist nominated is absolutely a Lab Hero.

Whether they were celebrated for dedication to their research, support for their colleagues, being the person who looks after everyone in their team – the reasons you nominated your colleagues made us feel both inspired and humbled. We are incredibly proud – and extremely lucky – to be part of such a supportive, appreciative community.

And so, it’s time to meet our 2021 winners...


Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Lab Leader Winner:

Dinesh Babu of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta, Canada

Receiving an incredible 85 nominations from current and former colleagues, the winner of our Lab Leader category was Dinesh Babu of the University of Alberta, Canada. This category recognises the PIs, supervisors, postdocs or research assistants who bring out the very best in their teams, and Dinesh was acknowledged for his dedication and enthusiasm for science, his mentoring and leadership skills, and the boundless support and kindness he offers to all those around him.

Yeon Suh, who worked with Dinesh at the University of Alberta, Canada said:

"Dr. Dinesh Babu is one of the most inspiring leaders I’ve come across in both academic research and in the scientific community. While working closely with him during my graduate program, I had the privilege to observe and learn from his dedication and professionalism. With his diverse research background and knowledge in multidisciplinary science, he always took the initiative in problem-solving and in brainstorming new trajectories of ideas that the team should explore. From helping with simple experimental procedures to discussing long-term project goals, he would oversee the success of everyone around him with genuine care. He is an exceptional team player who held the group close like glue. Dr. Babu is an exemplary mentor and a life coach to his younger colleagues. He motivates young scientists to develop many necessary skills and more, including technical skills, critical thinking, communication, work ethics, and network building. He was my go-to person for discussing any complication I was struggling with, and he would kindly share his insights, for hours if needed."

Gayathri Rajaram, who has known Dinesh for almost 20 years, said:

"Dinesh is a remarkable and inspiring personality. He has been a professional guide, well-wisher and guardian throughout my career. My focus and involvement in research were enlightened only through his constant support and guidance. Since the day I met him, he has always astonished me with his knowledge and skills. All of my classmates and research co-workers adore him as a versatile researcher. His ideas and approaches towards addressing problems are unique and exceptional. I have always seen him as a sincere, dedicated, committed and highly involved person in research. He has also provided overseas career guidance advice to many of my students as he has international academic experience, having studied in many countries. Beyond our professional relationship, he is a good friend and philosopher with whom I can discuss anything in life. It has been a privilege to know this brilliant and dedicated scientist and humanitarian. I cannot think of anyone other than him in my network more deserving of this award."

When we congratulated Dinesh on his win, here’s what he said:

This Lab Hero award is the best recognition that will undoubtedly boost a sense of responsibility and service to anyone working in science, including me! I hope that this award will inspire many others to work with dedication and compassion. My sincere thanks and appreciation to Hello Bio. Dinesh Babu

Dinesh will receive $1000 Hello Bio vouchers, plus a $1000 science career development grant. Congratulations!

Read Dinesh's nominations here


Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Lab Supporter Winner:

Danica Budinščak, Croatian Institute for Brain Research, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Danica Budinščak received 30 nominations in our Lab Supporter category, recognising the technicians, managers and administrators who keep their labs running smoothly. Danica’s colleagues described her as an expert in her field, a ‘wizard’ when helping with experiments, and someone whose energy, spirit and enthusiasm have been the driving force of the lab for more than 30 years.

Branka Hrvoj-Mihic of the University of California San Diego told us:

"Danica is an expert in neurohistological techniques, whose entire career is devoted to deepening our understanding of structural changes during human brain development. Equally important is her willingness to encourage and support young researchers, and pass on her knowledge to future generations. For Danica, nothing is too challenging or too difficult; her expertise and high standards in research have left a deep mark on all of us who had a chance to work with her.

Goran Simic of the Croatian Institute for Brain Research said:

"Over the last 30+ years Danica has helped many PhD and graduate students as well as postdoctoral researchers and technicians from many labs and departments at our institution. Her dedicated work is one of the key reasons why the Zagreb Collection of human brains is one of the best and also one of the largest neurohistological collections in the world. The digitized versions of Danica's superbly stained sections, especially the Nissl stain (a sort of trade mark of many highly-cited publications from our department on cytoarchitectural development of the human cerebral cortex), have helped and are still helping many neuroscientists to successfully realize their projects and human brain atlases. Personally, I feel very privileged and grateful to be one of them.

When we told Danica she was one of our 2021 winners, she said:

Firstly, I didn't know about this nomination, so I'm absolutely surprised! After that first shock, I'm so delighted with this acknowledgement... I'm thankful to all my colleagues for all these supportive and encouraging comments, and so happy that this title "Lab Hero" goes to someone who comes from a small country such as Croatia. Once again, one big THANK YOU! Danica Budinščak

Danica will also receive $1000 Hello Bio vouchers, plus a $1000 science career development grant. Congratulations!

Read all of Danica's nominations here

Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Lab Scholar Winner:

Jagannath Maharana, Biological Sciences and Bioengineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India

Our Lab Scholar category recognises the life science PhD, graduate or Masters students who are making an impact for all the right reasons, and our deserving winner this year is PhD student Jagannath Maharana. Jagannath - or ‘Jags’ as he’s known in the lab - was nominated by 19 of his colleagues at the IIT Kanpur who praised his creativity, cool composure, and willingness to help others wherever possible. 

Arun Shukla of Biological Sciences and Bioengineering said:

Jagannath is an exceptionally talented PhD student with incredible bench-skills, an epitome of collegiality, and an ever-ready-to-help attitude. While completely immersed in the experiments that he is doing, he also takes immense pride in helping the younger colleagues in the laboratory settle, grow and succeed. Jags is also a terrific artist, and his drawings, paintings and sketches are awe-inspiring. He is a gem of a person, and our laboratory is truly blessed to have a student like him.

Senior postdoc Mithu Baidya told us: 

He is an extraordinary talent, extremely hardworking and an exceptional team worker. He is the most supportive lab mate I’ve ever come across, an original thinker and a very good communicator. He is very respectful in his conduct and always helps his colleagues in distress. He not only performs his research work with the utmost sincerity but goes the extra mile in helping to manage the lab. He is a great listener and a wonderful human being, and I am confident that he will be a very successful researcher in future.

When we told Jags he was one of our winners, he said:

I'm extremely grateful to my lab mates for seeing me as their “Hero”. The ride of research can be bumpy at times, but when we hold hands, back each other up and offer encouragement then everything runs more smoothly. That’s how I feel being with my lab mates. The whole team are deserving of this award, I’m just one of them. Jagannath Maharana

Jags will receive $1000 Hello Bio vouchers, plus a $1000 science career development grant. Congratulations!

Read all of Jagannath's nominations here


Highly Commended - Additional Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021

Like last year, the standard of entry was so high that our judges – the Hello Bio Scientific Advisory Board – have named three additional nominees as Highly Commended in each category. Each of the following will receive a Hello Bio goodie bag and certificate:

Lab Leader

Lab Supporter

Lab Scholar

  • Naciye Magusali, UK Dementia Research Institute at UCL, University College London, UK
  • Raul Ramos, Turrigiano Lab, Brandeis University, USA
  • Franco Biglione, Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Rosario, Argentina


And finally...

Dr Sam Roome, Hello Bio's Director of Marketing who organised this year's awards said:

My favourite time of the Hello Bio year is sitting down with a cup of tea, and setting aside some time to read the wonderful nominations submitted by scientists about their lab mates! This year, I especially loved reading those truly personal stories of how your lab colleagues have supported you in tough times, and how they have got through difficult times themselves. I am always inspired by those who are nominated, but also by those who do the nominating. It makes a real difference to someone to tell them how much they are valued and appreciated. So everyone who took the time out of their busy lab lives to nominate their colleagues – you are all lab heroes too!


Stay tuned for interviews with our winner and runners-up, coming to the blog soon!

View all our wonderful nominations for the Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 here


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