Meet The Lab Heroes Awards™ 2022 Winners
We’re delighted to announce the winners of our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2022!
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 inspirational life scientists who make a big difference in their labs every day.
In this sixth year of running the awards, we were delighted to receive over 300 nominations for 64 inspiring scientists from 22 different countries! The nominations were judged once again by a panel of distinguished and award winning scientists, including Professor Elek Molnár of the School of Pharmacology and Neuroscience, University of Bristol, UK.
Selecting three winners from this impressive line-up was not an easy task, and our judges considered many different factors when choosing the heroes who stood out the most to them. Each and every scientist nominated is a Lab Hero in their own right and deserves to be celebrated and congratulated for their hard work this year.
Once again we were overwhelmed by the stories of support, dedication and teamwork shared by the nominators who expressed their appreciation for their Lab Heroes. From post-pandemic lab rebuilders to mental health mentors, champions of women in STEM to motivational lab leaders – the reasons you nominated your colleagues made us feel both inspired and humbled. We always feel incredibly proud – and extremely lucky – to be part of such a supportive, appreciative community.
And so, it’s time to introduce our three winners for 2022...
Lab Heroes Awards™ 2022 Winner:
Lillian Truong of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Albany Medical College, US
PhD student Lillian Truong is the first of our deserving winners who received praise for consistently going above and beyond her responsibilities in the lab, and for dedicating time and a great deal of care to her colleagues, both inside and outside the lab.
Her colleague Yong-Xiao Wang said:
“Lillian has been going much beyond her responsibilities in the lab for years as a PhD student. She takes the time out of her busy schedule to help others at various levels inside and outside our lab. She has trained and advised a number of junior, intermediate, and senior graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, volunteer researchers, and visiting scientists. Lillian strives for quality not only in her own project, but constantly takes the time to think of important details and advice for others’ work in the lab. She is a motivating force that drives the enthusiasm for science for others around her. Even when experimental progress is slow, Lillian never fails to smile through the frustration that science brings at times. She is always willing to take a walk with colleagues, students and fellows to grab coffee, discuss projects, and to see how life is going in general. She genuinely cares for other people’s well-being in the lab environment and outside as well. As she prepares for her thesis defense in the coming year, our lab members are taking the time to learn the valuable techniques that Lillian has learned to master over the years, such as direct ventricular catherization for pressure-volume measurements (not an easy task!). Lillian is a true team player. Without her, our lab would not function the same. She is truly a key asset in our lab.”
When we congratulated Lillian on her win, here’s what she said:
I am absolutely thrilled to have won the Lab Hero award. It feels amazing to be honored and shows how my efforts in the lab are recognized and appreciated by my mentor and colleagues. The voucher and career development will go a long way as I am preparing my manuscript for publication and planning to attend a conference as a senior graduate student. Lillian Truong
Lillian will receive $1000 Hello Bio vouchers, plus a $1000 science career development grant. Congratulations!
Read Lillian's full nomination here
Lab Heroes Awards™ 2022 Winner:
Mirela Iodi Carstens, Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior, University of California, Davis, USA
Our second winner is experienced lab manager Mirela Iodi Carstens who has been keeping the somatosensory neuroscience lab at University of California Davis running smoothly for almost a quarter of a century! She was praised for her exceptional organisational skills and her ability to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere within the lab.
Her colleague at the University of California Davis told us:
"Mirela is my lab hero. Why? Obviously, research protocols must be in place and personnel properly trained with required documentation. Supplies must be there when you need them. Mirela has been manager of my somatosensory neuroscience lab since 1998 and is absolutely indispensable in keeping the lab organized and running so that we can efficiently conduct research on the neural mechanisms of itch, pain, temperature and chemesthesis. Her efforts ensure that research supplies are ordered and maintained in a timely manner, and that lab personnel are well-trained and records properly documented and maintained. She recruits and trains subjects for our psychophysical experiments, as well as the numerous undergraduate students - sometimes 20 per quarter - doing research internships in our lab. Moreover, she organizes visas, travel and housing accommodations for the many visitors to our lab from around the world. She could easily run a successful travel agency! All the while, she makes major contributions to lab research (e.g., histology, behavioral testing) and is co-author on over 80 peer-reviewed publications. Above and beyond her everyday superhero efforts to make the lab run, Mirela works hard to engender a welcoming and collegial work atmosphere, organizing frequent lab outings (both local and at professional meetings) and home-cooked dinners that have become legendary.”
Mirela will also receive $1000 Hello Bio vouchers, plus a $1000 science career development grant. Congratulations!
Read Mirela’s full nomination here
Lab Heroes Awards™ 2022 Winner:
Hilal Lashuel, Brain Mind Institute, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, Switzerland
Finally, our third winner was chosen after we received perhaps the most touching nomination we have ever had in the history of the Lab Heroes Awards. Professor Hilal Lashuel was nominated by mentee Galina Limorenko who told us how Hilal goes above and beyond to support neurodiverse students, to encourage community outreach activities, to advocate for mental health awareness, and to create a safe and supportive working environment for all.
In her nomination Galina told us:
“My PI and PhD mentor has been a constant support during my studies and work in his lab, as well as beyond. He has given me an opportunity to explore fascinating new avenues in science, invent and develop novel bioassays, and has always been a strong proponent for challenging his ideas and those in the field. He has been especially supportive and accommodating to my special needs as a neurodivergent professional person. Getting appropriate conference rooms, flexible work and meeting scheduling, direct communication. And plenty of listening and feedback, both of which are particularly rare in competitive fields like sciences! Really making me feel a part of the team rather than a weirdo and a burden, which has allowed me to approach learning in my own way and deliver excellent work (I have submitted my first patent application!). Hilal has been a strong proponent of community outreach - both to patients of the disease we study, and the wider community. Our lab is always involved in such projects, and he has also been supportive of my independent initiatives, such as podcasting. Further, Hilal has been very vocal about mental health in academia, promoting a caring environment for staff and students. He has written extensive very personal accounts of his own struggles, which have been an inspiration for many. Hilal and I organize sem-/webinar series with talks on different important aspects of mental health, such as burnout, suicide, healthy work-life balance and more. In my case, Hilal has been especially supportive with regards to the war in Ukraine. As part of my family are Ukrainian, I have been volunteering with refugees arriving to Switzerland. Hilal was more than happy for me to take time and do what was necessary - for myself, my family or refugees. I think the environment Hilal promotes within the workplace has much more far reaching impacts beyond the lab itself. This is not very typical of academic labs. Speaking for myself, as a budding scientist, under Hilal's mentorship I developed the necessary skills to deliver top class science, and as an autistic person I have gained a wealth of soft skills to navigate the complex environment of academia and biotechnology. And I have never felt I was losing the inquisitive mind about science (always flooding everyone with silly questions), as this has been vehemently supported by Hilal. I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of Hilal's team. I will be always grateful for him showing me how the lab, and really any work environment should be: welcoming, supportive, caring, enthusiastic, exploring. And full of respect for everyone's peculiarities, always..”
Hilal will receive $1000 Hello Bio vouchers, plus a $1000 science career development grant. Congratulations!
Read Hilal’s full nomination here
Highly Commended - Additional Lab Heroes Awards™ 2022
As with previous years, the standard of entry was so high that our judges – the Hello Bio Scientific Advisory Board – have named ten additional nominees as Highly Commended. Each of the following will receive a Hello Bio goodie bag and certificate:
- Raquel Campos of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Dillon Popat of the William Harvey Research Institute, UK
- Elizabeth Berry of the New York Medical College, USA
- Paradeisios Alexandros Boulakis of the University of Liège, Belgium
- Patricia Mariscal Ramirez of the University of Cadiz, Spain
- Bettina Breuer of Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Germany
- Carlos Garrido Tomas of Hospital General Universitario de Albacete, Spain
- Daniel Brink of Lund University, Sweden
- Uloma Elvis-Offiah of the University of Benin, Nigeria
- Shaydel Engel of the University of Minnesota, USA
Stay tuned for interviews with our winners and highly commended nominees, coming to the blog soon!
View all our wonderful nominations for the Lab Heroes Awards™ 2022 here
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