NPDC23 Award Winners
The National Postdoc Conference was an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the work of postdoctoral researchers and those who enable it. In partnership with our Awards Sponsors, Heuristic Games and the Pro Vice Chancellor for EDI at Loughborough University, the following awards were presented at the conference:
Impact For Postdoc Careers Award
Winner: Anjali Shah
A postdoc at the University of Oxford, Anjali is passionate about improving research culture, with a focus on researcher wellbeing. They have represented Research Staff locally and nationally and on numerous committees, along with innovating initiatives such as an Equality and Diversity Forum, the creation of the Researcher Staff Hub at Oxford, and for greater representation of researchers on committees. They also organised a conference on the ‘Impact of Brexit on Research at Oxford’, and has run workshops towards supporting researcher development, and was instrumental in ensuring that concordat made provision for 10 days per year for researcher to use towards their own professional development and careers.
Unsung Heroes Award – EDI Champion
Winner: Blanca Perez Sepulveda
Blanca is a postdoc at the University of Liverpool who is passionate about improving the research culture. They have had roles in both the UKRSA and the University of Liverpool’s RSA. They have initiated links between the RSA and University staff networks, such as Disabled Staff Network (DSN), LBGT+ and BAME Network and have organised seminars and sessions around these networks. They are a PGR Wellbeing Ambassador Staff Advocate, and was also a participant at Gender Equality Colloquium, an Athena Swan representative, and instrumental in the creation of Liverpool’s Research wellbeing charter.
Unsung Heroes Award – Sustainability Champion
Winner: Stephen Blenkisop
Quietly understated but quite brilliant in their innovative and substantial contributions to their field – Stephen has made strides to advance sustainable practices in many areas, including a brief with the UK Universities Climate Network supporting UK Higher Education Institutions to develop processes to assess their current and future climate risks. They have also been instrumental linking climate science (their own field) through to health impacts and promoting sustainable practice towards NetZero. They lead on the implementation of Sustainability and Climate Change teaching in our education provision across Newcastle University, including the development of a new interdisciplinary Climate Change Leadership MSc. They are frequently involved in education and outreach activities promoting climate action and sustainable practices.
Unsung Heroes Award – Advancement of Knowledge
Winner: Othman Almusaimi
Othman is an expert in the peptide science field and trained at the University of Kwazulu-Natal and Imperial College London. They have published 29 articles and spoke at 6 international conferences. They have a number of roles as a reviewer in 5 journals, Editor-in-Chief for a newsletter, a member of the postdoc committee, UKRI Talent Peer Review College and have independently secured over £100,000 of research funding, and have introduced novel methodologies to prepare first-in-class peptide-based therapeutics that comprise unprecedented key properties, and are in the process of launching a company with Imperial, Advanced Peptide Technologies.
Winner: UK Research Staff Association (UKRSA)
UKRSA was established in 2010 to provide a collective voice for researchers across the UK, with the vision of a fulfilling career for every researcher in the UK. Their members are passionate about improving research culture, by empowering postdocs to enact change and create opportunities for themselves and for the postdoc community. Every member is a volunteer juggling improving research culture with their own work and challenges, such as short-term contracts, lack of recognition, EDI and well-being issues. Despite this the UKRSA has had an extensive impact on UK policy, championing postdoc development, working conditions, precarity issues, support and wellbeing; by providing a voice on committees, running workshops and sitting on panels at conferences. They provide resources and support to postdocs to enact bottom-up changes, while providing opportunities for researchers to influence policy at local, institute and national level to improve research development and culture. Members of the UKRSA have been involved with REF, Concordat, HREiR, Research Integrity, RRN and RDCSGFE committees making sure that the postdoc values, experiences, and opinions are heard and can help shape policy.