Meet The Lab Heroes Awards™ 2023 Winners
We’re delighted to announce the winners of our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2023!
The Lab Heroes Awards™ were launched in 2017 with the goal of recognising and celebrating the unsung champions of the life sciences industry by showing appreciation for the scientists who’ve made the biggest impact on their colleagues over the past year.
In this seventh year of running the awards, we were delighted to receive 160 nominations for 86 scientists from 29 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.
The standard of entries this year was extremely high, and choosing just three winners from so many inspiring nominations was a near impossible task! Our judges considered many different factors when choosing the heroes who stood out to them the most. 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.
The stories of support, dedication and teamwork shared by the nominators are always heart-warming and this year’s entries were no exception. 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 2023...
Winner of the Lab Leader category:
Caroline Manicam of the University Medical Centre of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany
Early career PI Caroline Manicam is the first of our three winners, scooping this year’s award for ‘Lab Leader’. She was praised for her compassionate manner and her willingness to advocate for a change within traditional lab settings. Her warmth and generosity was described as ‘life-changing’, with an attitude that brings an ‘amazing aura’ to the lab.
Her colleague Alfred Francis said:
“Apart from being an exceptionally passionate scientist, she is an incredible human being with a big, compassionate heart and a larger-than-life attitude that brings an amazing aura into the lab culture. One of her most astounding qualities that I admire is her courage to advocate for change beyond the traditional mindset to allow us to innovate and change the way we do things in the lab, while never losing sight of what matters the most at the end of the day – the aim to help patients with our findings.
Although Caroline is one of the most hardworking and hence, busy people in the department, her door is always open for her students and colleagues at all times, to provide support whenever and in whatever needed – personal and professional. We, her students and mentees, are very fortunate and happy to be working in her team as we are assured of not only a successful research career, but also a life-changing experience that motivates us to carry forward her warm legacy.”
When we congratulated Caroline on her win, here’s what she said:
I am pleasantly surprised and truly humbled to receive the Lab Heroes Award, which came as an early Christmas present to conclude this year with an achievement worth celebrating! This is one of the most defining moments in my career as a scientist, PI and a mentor. Looking at all the inspiring and high number of nominations for fellow colleagues from all around the world this year, it is definitely surreal to be chosen as a Lab Leader Awardee! I am grateful for the nomination by my student, Alfred, who saw it fit to nominate me for this distinguished award. Thank you to Hello Bio for the generous prize, which will definitely be put to good use in my research endeavours!
Caroline will receive $1000 Hello Bio vouchers, plus a $1000 science career development grant. Congratulations!
Winner of the Lab Supporter category:
Paul Metzler of the Chaudhary Lab, Dartmouth College, USA
Our second winner is experienced lab manager Paul Metzler whose willingness to go ‘above and beyond’ secured him the top prize in this year’s ‘Lab Supporter’ category. Our judges were touched by his dedication to mentoring, and the impact he has had on the students working alongside him. His rescue of a trapped bird in the lab building was also a particularly heart-warming story!
Here’s what his colleague Sarah Cuprewich told us:
"Paul is also an exceptional mentor and supervisor of our students, and has played an immensely positive role in shaping the next generation of scientists. Aided in no small part by his warm and welcoming disposition, sense of humor, and personability, Paul genuinely connects with our students and garners their respect from the first day. Paul uses a gentle, guiding approach to mentorship and supervision and offers our students the space to learn and develop. Through his technical training, students rapidly gain “bench” skills and learn the practical methods associated with our research. With his encouragement, students feel confident and prepared to move beyond the bench and begin to design their own experiments. Thanks to Paul’s mentorship and encouragement, multiple students in the lab have learned how to conduct research in our field and have also secured significant funding to conduct research on and off-campus.
Paul’s exceptionally positive attitude and determination are best illustrated by the story of the trapped bird. This summer, a small songbird became trapped in our building on campus for nearly two weeks. Facilities and building workers tried to no avail to capture the bird and resigned to wait for the bird to die. However, Paul refused to give up on the bird and strategically left it food and water near the building’s exit; he was eventually able to free the bird by visiting after dark and attracting the bird to the exit using lights. Paul’s perseverance is both inspirational and imperative when troubleshooting the challenges that arise in research.”
Paul will also receive $1000 Hello Bio vouchers, plus a $1000 science career development grant. Congratulations!
Winner of the Lab Scholar category:
Elisa Corti of the Neuronal Signaling Lab, CNC-UC, Portugal
Finally, our third Lab Hero is PhD student Elisa Corti who was chosen as the winner of our ‘Lab Scholar’ category. She was described as the ‘reference point’ for everyone in her lab, and someone who always has time for others, despite the demands of her own PhD work. The judging panel were particularly moved by the impact she had on colleague Emanuel Tahiri when he first arrived at the lab.
In his nomination, Emanuel told us:
“Elisa is an incredible researcher and represents the perfect example of someone who truly loves her work. Sharp, intelligent, and insightful, you can find her darting through the hallways, always busy and immersed in her experiments. This might make you think that this leaves her with no time for others, but that's not the case. Her availability is extraordinary. Elisa is always ready to help others, and her knowledge makes her a reference point for everyone (also because her brain is literally the inventory of our lab).
Although it is clear that she is very competent, the reason she deserves your award is different. When I arrived in Coimbra, Elisa was one of the first people I met. Despite not knowing me, she welcomed me under her wing, making me feel at home from the first day. Caring and affectionate, Elisa has gradually carved out a fundamental role for many, especially for me. Always ready to smile in adversity and to ask "How are you?", Elisa is one of the women with the broadest shoulders I have ever met. While we know that a doctorate is complex, often marked by more lows than highs, Elisa faces it with great determination and dignity, tackling problems head-on without fear. Today, her doctoral journey is about to end, and despite our paths will likely take different directions, I believe this is the best way to thank her.”
When we congratulated Elisa on her win, here’s what she said:
I am simply smiling and shaking with surprise! The nomination itself made me feel emotional: I was not expecting to be nominated, and the piece Emanuel wrote was very sweet and funny. I was expecting even less to actually win! I am happy, this is a refill of positive energy and I will use it to motivate me through the last months of my PhD. I am also excited to use the money for my experiments, but especially for my career development: I will be able to participate in conferences, share my work and meet other lab heroes from around the world. Thank you!
Elisa will receive $1000 Hello Bio vouchers, plus a $1000 science career development grant. Congratulations!
Highly Commended - Additional Lab Heroes Awards™ 2023
As with previous years, the standard of entry was so high that our judges – the Hello Bio Scientific Advisory Board – have named 12 additional nominees as Highly Commended. Each of the following will receive a Hello Bio goodie bag and certificate:
- Lisa Mielke of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, Australia
- Elia Ranzato of the University of Piemonte Orientale, Italy
- Silvia Radrezza of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics
- Hanna Dumanska of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine
- Fanny Farrugia of Inserm U1215 Neurocentre Magendie, France
- Sylvie Lachkar of the Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers, France
- Heidi Nielsen of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark
- Serena Petruzzelli of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, USA
- Sandra Mendiola of Emory University, USA
- George Michalopoulos of the University of Huddersfield, UK
- Ivan Tourtourikov of the IMDL Genome Centre, Bulgaria
- Vishwadeep Mane of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India
Stay tuned for interviews with our winners and runners-up, coming to the blog soon!
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