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Lab Heroes 2017 Nominees

The Lab Hero Awards 2017 celebrates the unsung heroes of the lab - those special scientists that really make a difference. Here are the nominees...

Vanessa Charrier

Neurocenter Magendie UMR-INSERM 1215, France

"It is my great pleasure to write this letter in support of Vanessa Charrier’s application for the Lab Hero Arward 2017. I have been working with Vanessa for many years now so I had many opportunities to appraise her qualities. I first met and worked with her when I supervised her master thesis on the role of adult born hippocampal neurons on memory (in 2006). Impressed by her technical skills, her exceptional sense of organization, and her motivation to work, I then hired her for 3 years as a technician to run behavioral and immunohistochemistry experiments.
Driven by an eagerness to learn and develop new methodological tools, as well as a fervor to learn and understand the principles governing brain function, Vanessa then moved to another lab to get a phD training on locomotion in salamanders using electrophysiological methods. After defending her PhD, she obtained a tenured ingenior position in my lab in 2015, and has been working with me since. She has rapidly became a vital element of my lab: not only is she in charge of organizing and managing the lab, and of training new comers to GLP, but she also develops her own research project that combines her expertise in stereotactic administration, immunohistochemistry, patch clamp electrophysiological recordings, and behavior, expertises that she is the only one to possess in the lab. As a person she is very pleasant to work with and makes the lab a wonderful place to be for all her colleagues!
So altogether, I believe that Vanessa a young talented scientist should win this price because her enthusiasm, passion and qualification make her a unique and invaluable person who deserves to be rewarded for her dedication!"

Nominated by: Nora Abrous, Neurocenter Magendie, INSERM, FRANCE

Dr Trevor Wardill

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, UK

"Trevor Wardill is the ideal candidate for this award as he demonstrates outstanding commitment to creating a supportive structure for anyone who wishes to work with him. Despite being a busy group leader, Trevor always has ample time for every member of his lab and makes a point of taking the time to listen to the current situation of ongoing projects on a daily basis. His office door is always open to incite lab members to step in for a chat at any given time, but he also likes to invest hands-on time at the bench with his team. This major time investment into the wellbeing and good function of his lab results in the most comfortable, productive lab environment I have ever worked in and it all comes down to Trevor’s remarkable efforts to make the lab workplace a friendly, supportive and happy place. In addition, Trevor is renowned for the DIY help he provides to anyone and everyone in the department and further afield. He jumps at any opportunity to help people with designing and building pieces of lab equipment, and will eagerly offer advice and expertise ranging from (but not limited to!) customised transportable fluorescence microscopy equipment for use in fieldwork to specialised perfusion systems. His talents have become indispensable to many as he has been the brain behind a large number of successful equipment setups beyond his own lab responsibilities. And all of this is always done with a big smile, great cheer and huge measures of enthusiasm. I cannot recommend Trevor enough for this award, he is a truly an exceptional scientist, not only by the excellent standard of his research but also by collaborative and supportive environment he creates for those that work with him. The extraordinary talent he has for encouraging and promoting the work of his team, but also other members of the department he has taken under his wing, is surpassed only by the energy and determination he continually invests into being a lab hero!

Nominated by: Rachael Feord Wardill Lab, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, Cambridge


Dr Mick Craig

Hatherly Laboratories, University of Exeter, UK

"In just one year Dr Mick Craig has established his own lab and gathered a small team of scientists. We would like to nominate Mick as our lab's Hero, so he can swap the lab coat for a cape which he truly deserves.

Mick is a great supervisor for the whole team, both motivational and supportive. His personal philosophy is to encourage peoples’ academic development, with every member of the lab having a personal research side project. Thus, each of us can foster a project for further investigation. Mick helps all of the lab members to fight off ‘imposter syndrome’, a common enemy of any scientist.

Mick’s great rapport with undergraduate students helps them to enjoy their research lab experience during their final year projects by creating an informal yet productive atmosphere, with a little help from banter and “dad jokes”. They feel that they have learnt a great deal during their time in the lab. Mick has created a culture in which there are no silly questions, which makes everyone feel free to share their ideas.

Mick’s Twitter account (@mickcraig101) provides a great humorous account of our daily adventures in the lab, and includes both achievements and struggles.

Having had some marvellous success rate with his grant applications, Mick continues to be very approachable and down-to-earth. So much so, that he assumed we were pulling his leg when we told him that we are nominating him to be the lab Hero. We want this nomination to be a gesture of our appreciation of all of Mick’s hard work and a compliment to the wonderful team he has put together."

Nominated by: Lilya Andrianova, Craig Lab, Hatherly Laboratories, University of Exeter, UK

Dr.Sooraj V. Nair

Smooth muscle pharmacolgy, department of veterinary pharmacology and toxicology, Duvasu, Mathura UP India

 "I knew about Dr. Sooraj as my lab senior since 2015, since then he had been a good friend, a great senior and good pharmacologist. He guided me through the initial process, he was instrumental in doing pharmacology experiments at my lab. He was an executor of his visions. He helped me through my experiments and guided me in conducting my experiments which helped me a lot in conducting my work and also develop a better understanding of the subject.

He has good expertise in pharmacology experiments and molecular works and deep understanding of the subject. He carried out his visions perfectly and his commitment towards his work has inspired me always. He had won awards and has international scholarships to his credit. He was a prodigy amongst us. He willingly helped any junior when asked for any guidance and help. So I perfectly consider him as my lab hero and so I nominate him as my hero."

Nominated by: Dr.Pranshu Sharma, Smooth muscle pharmacolgy department of veterinary pharmacology and toxicology College of veterinary science ,Duvasu, Mathura UP India

Ilona Nowak

Institute of Cancer Research, Surrey, UK

" Ilona is our lab hero who not only helps ensure the smooth running of our lab and perform experiments for multiple projects but also brings sunshine to the lab with her cheerful personality. She is hardworking, focussed, eager to learn and takes initiative in all she does. If ever in need of help, Ilona can be counted on to assist. There have been many occasions when I have had last minute schedule changes and she had to step in to help continue or finish my experiments. She never complains but approaches every task or challenge with a positive "can do" attitude. Her positive attitude and cheerful personality renders her a great person to work with and creates a fun and enjoyable work environment. We believe Ilona is an exceptional team player in our lab and deserves to win the lab heroes award for all that she has done for us. She would be an excellent example to other young scientists aspiring to be a hero of the lab.

Nominated by: Hannah Wang, Translational Cancer Discovery, Institute of Cancer Research, Surrey, UK

Agnes E Haggerty

University of Miami, Florida, USA

"Aggie is my daily inspiration in the lab for multiple reasons. She is the greatest advocate for accuracy and experimental repetitions, magnificent defender of scientific logic and the relevance of using good statistics, and the best mate for endless scientific brainstormings. But what really makes her a hero is combining all that passion to care for her friends and family, being a fierce paddler and the most entertaining friend to have fun with.

She manages to have a little piece of her time for everybody, on top of producing groundbreaking research combining stem cell therapy and novel biomaterials in the field of spinal cord injury."

Nominated by: Ines Maldonado-Lasuncion, Oudega Lab (The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis), University of Miami, Florida, USA

Mafalda Cacciottolo

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA

"Mafalda has been a mentor to me throughout my tenure in lab. Despite the fact she is a post-doc with her own experiments and students to manage she has always found time to mentor the undergraduate students in our lab.

Nominated by: Richard Johnson Finch Lab "University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA

She works so hard, she taught the student with passion and love. She is super patient with everyone. she is always prepared to help and support anyone. She is so calm even in times of crisis.

Nominated by: Nikoo Safi, University of Southern California, Finch Lab, Los Angeles 

She is really hard working and helpful to the group. She is knowledgeable with many projects going on.

Nominated by: Amin Haghani, Finch lab University of Southern California, Los Angeles CA, USA


Pinggan Li

Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA

"Pinggan (Jennifer) is a true asset to the lab! She has only recently joined our lab, but she is already an integral member. She hit the ground running and learned as many new techniques as she can so she can help everyone in the lab. Pinggan makes herself available to help everyone in the lab. She makes solutions, checks subjects and assists in starting experiments. Moreover, she does all of this without being asked!

Upon joining the lab, she started on a project with a fellow PhD student. They are looking at the role of microglia in a subtype of seizures. The data analysis she has to complete is complex and difficult. Despite that she learned it in a week and is doing it much faster than anticipated. Upon completion of this project she will be an author on the publication.

English is not her first language, but she does not let that be a barrier. She downloaded an app on her phone and is eager to learn. Pinggan has even gone out of her way to learn American idioms. It is remarkable to see someone work so hard.

As a mother of two she has become our lab mom. She brings food for us and makes sure everyone eats especially if they have a busy experiment day. One day I asked her if she had lotion and she let me use what she had. This is not what makes this story amazing. The next day she had bought me a kit that included different types of lotions. This is not a rare act for her. Any time she notices that one of us needs something, she will get it for us.

I am very glad that Pinggan has joined our lab and she truly is a lab hero! "

Nominated by: Nour Al-muhtasib, Vicini Lab, Georgetown University. Washington, DC, USA

Atom J. Lesiak

University of Washington

"It is with great pleasure that I nominate Dr. Atom Lesiak (they pronouns) as a Lab Hero. As a graduate student in the UW MSTP (Medical Student Training Program), Dr. Lesiak has been an influential mentor to me and many other graduate and undergraduate students in the Neumaier lab (Pharmocology and Psychiatry Departments).

In the lab, Dr. Lesiak is always making time to train and guide both graduate and undergraduate students on a variety of technical skills and projects in the lab. Throughout the week, Atom checks in on the progress I have been making on my project, and they routinely offer valuable insight and recommendations on how to better optimize my methods and techniques. Recently, I was struggling to validate the functionality of a CRISPR-plasmid that Dr. Lesiak had helped me create. In the days before my grant was due, I had given up on being able to acquire a representative image for my grant, so I discarded my cells to focus on the final edits to the grant. When Dr. Lesiak heard of my struggles, they worked late into the night to revive my dead cells, helping me get the image I needed just in time for submission. Additionally, Dr. Lesiak is passionate about research integrity, and instills in every member of the lab a strong commitment to quality experimental design. They routinely use lab meetings as a forum to discuss ways in which we need to be more critical of our own work. Importantly, Dr. Lesiak is forthcoming in sharing their personal experiences, both positive and negative.

Outside of the laboratory setting, Dr. Lesiak has also been an excellent mentor to me as a leader in the LGBTQ community. In their free-time Dr. Lesiak is a Board Member for the non-profit organization, Ingersoll Gender Center, that runs a support group for transgender people in Seattle. Through Dr. Lesiak’s Ingersoll affiliation, we were able to collaborate on a project with UW Medicine to establish a training program to educate first year medical students on the best practices of how to better treat LGBTQ-identified patients. Their commitment to balancing work, life, and community service is an inspiration, as I continue down my career path. Dr. Lesiak is well-deserving of recognition for the exceptional work they do as a scientist and mentor. Dr. Lesiak is my Lab Hero and an absolute pleasure to work with.

Nominated by: Alec Gibson, Neumaier Lab, University of Washington

Paola V. Figueroa-Delgado

Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

" Paola is an excellent student that will do her best regardless of any circumstance. She is determined to make contributions in the field of science, especially in neuroscience. Her proactiveness towards helping her fellow colleagues is something to admire. She is committed to every type of work that she realizes and is a leader that provides an example to follow.

Nominated by: Daniel Crespo-Vélez, Boritz Lab, Vaccine Research Center, NIAID, NIH , Bethesda, USA

Antoine Almonte

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology , Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, NC, USA

"Antoine has worked in my lab for just over three years. In that time, he has helped move our research in many exciting directions and has proven to be a tremendous asset to our team. He started as a postdoc and has already been promoted to a junior faculty member position and is certainly deserving of this honor."

Nominated by: Jeff Weiner Weiner Lab, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, NC, USA

John Hayes & Maria Cristina Picardo

Willam & Mary University, Integrated Science Center, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA

"John and Maria are senior scientists in the Del Negro Lab. They are highly experienced and always eager to share their knowledge with us and give us tips on improving our skills in the lab. Whether it is a small thing in the lab like finding a beaker or whether it is training us for conducting high-level experiments. They are always available.

Nominated by: Prajkta Kallurkar,Del Negro Lab, Willam & Mary University, Integrated Science Center, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA

Rosana Molina

Montana State University , USA

"Rosana is a bright, funny, and hardworking PhD student in our lab. When I first started working at Molecular Motion I was new to lab work and kind of shaky. I didn't believe that I could be good at science and I had many failed experiments in the beginning. Every time that I was about to give up Rosana was there, cheering me on, and encouraging me to try again. I learned how to run experiments and how to problem solve by working with her. She always put aside her science to help me with mine and did so with a smile.
Further, her first and recent paper has been a hit in the fluorescent protein community and she is a pro at twitter;@rosunna.
We also have fun outside the lab and go mountain biking, climbing, and backpacking when time allows it! Alex Honnold (world famous free solo climber) better watch out for this chick at the crag (slang for a place that people go climb outside) because she is strong and smart!

Nominated by: Merrilee Thomas, Molecular Motion, Montana State University

Sisi Chen

University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Dr. Sisi Chen is an outstanding young investigator. She is capable of well-performing a series of surgeries and is an excellent electrophysiologist. She uses techniques like immunohistochemistry, stereotaxic surgeries, pain models, whole cell patch clamp recording, behavioral testing, optogenetics, chemogenetics etc to assess in vitro mechanisms in chronic pain and modulate rodent pain-related behaviors with prevention. She has published a number of peer-reviewed articles and she has received reward as young investigator at American Pain Society annual meeting. She will continue to be contributing to the lab regarding both progress of ongoing projects and developing new studies.

Nominated by: Sisi Chen, Davidson Lab, Dept. of Anes., COM, Univ. of Cincinnati University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Edenia de Cunha Menezes

Psychiatry and Early Neurodevelopment Lab, University of Iowa, USA When Edenia first joined our neurodevelopment lab, she couldn't speak English and her interview with our PI consisted of a version of Pictionary. It was the first time she had left her native country of Brazil. The plan was for her to spend a year in Iowa as a visiting scholar. She easily navigated the cultural changes and worked really hard to please our PI and her own back in Brazil. She joined our lab as a graduate student 8 months ago with a physiology background and quickly picked up mouse behavior and cell biology assays and was able to teach them (in English) to me, a postdoc, when I joined the lab 3 months ago. She has really helped me transition from my home state of California to the cold weather in Iowa. She is the hardest worker on our floor, generating her own quality data, as well as always being ready to lend a helping hand to anyone who asks. She quickly impressed our PI, so much so, that our PI asked her to stay an extra 6 months before she has to return to Brazil to defend her thesis. Her dream is to run her own lab in Brazil, taking what she learns about neurodevelopment in Iowa and applying it to her area of interest in Brazil, Physiological Sciences, Anatomophysiology as it applies to Speech Therapy, Orofacial Motricity and Clinical Language.

Nominated by: Jessica DeWitt, Psychiatry and Early Neurodevelopment Lab, University of Iowa, USA

Bart NieuwenhuisLab Heroes 2017 Nominee Bart Nieuwenhuis

John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, UK

" Looking at the Hello Bio lab hero criteria, I cannot help but share with you about a person who transformed not only mine and everyone else's experiences in my lab.

One of the scariest moments of a PhD student's life is arriving to a new lab and not having a clue where to start or how to overcome initial challenges. This was also my case - I had a lot of struggles when I first started but all the way along, there was Bart. Bart is great colleague, a good friend and an excellent scientist. He is the most selfless person I know - even in moments when there was a lot of work and time pressure on him with his own project as well as personal and health issues in his life, he found time to help us, his colleagues. There were times in my first year of my PhD when I felt disappointed or desperate, but he was always there for me to sit down, talk to me and help me work out how to proceed with my experiments. It was him really who taught me how to persist and be patient - and yes, there is always a way to get something to work!

Aside from him being constantly supportive to various people, his greatest feature is his friendliness. Bart's presence in the lab brightens up everyone's day - he is sociable, has the best jokes and always finds a way to connect with various people over interests he has in common with them. For example, a lot of people in my building don't really socialise with some of the staff who are instrumental for making our environment great for work - for example, the cleaners. Bart always finds time to say hello, to ask them how their day is going and to learn more about them - I find his willingness to connect and inspire people contagious. He also taught me that connecting with people and forming collaborations is the way forward in science - only if you can be open-minded and see other people's views and perspectives, then you can carry out the best research possible.

All in all, if I had to pick one person who really helped me shape my personality today and who transformed me into the scientist I am today, then I can undoubtedly say that this person is Bart - with his selfless, positive and friendly attitude and with his hard-working, collaborative and open-minded approach to scientific research! "

Nominated by: Veselina Petrova, John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, UK


Dr Gabriele LignaniLab Heroes 2017 Nominee Gabriele Lignani

Institute of Neurology, University College London, UK

 
"Gabriele has been my mentor since 2011. He was a last-year PhD student when I was just a second year Bachelor’s Degree student and he welcomed me not only in his lab-group and life, but also in his narrow desk space, sharing a few inches of table. Since the first project carried out together he tried to communicate to me and to everyone in the group his passion and excellence for science, for that obscure electrophysiological techniques named patch clamp and especially for Genoa football team. Gabriele is involved in at least 10 projects at any moment of the day and despite his tight schedule, he always finds time for any master student, PhD student or post doc who search for advice or help in blinding procedure or designing a construct. He brought innovation in the department and he is the best person from whom to learn not just scientific procedure, but also how to writing grants, organising a conference in one day and making overseas collaborations. He is definitely our lab hero!"

Nominated by: Eleonora Lugara, Institute of Neurology (UCL)

Vipin SharmaLab Heroes 2017 Nominee Vipin Sharma

Department of pharmacology & toxciology, Mathura Veterinary college, Duvasu,India

"Vipin Sharma has evolved from being from skilled person to being an expert in the field of pharmacology & toxicology. I had been with him for 2 years by 2014-2016 and since then I have seen him as an innovative thinker with executing those ideas with least delay. He had been an expert in organ bath studies and he was constantly juggling two projects at the same time, with expertise in ethano-pharmacology side too.

He had been my support emotionally, mentally and a good friend during my post-graduate studies. I feel this as my proud moment to pay back my dues by nominating him as my Lab Hero. He has knowledge in molecular studies, pharmacological experiment studies and ethano-pharmacology related studies. I wish good luck for my Lab hero."

Nominated by: Sooraj Nair, Department of pharmacology & toxciology, Mathura Veterinary College, Duvasu,India


Arijit BiswasLab Heroes 2017 Nominee Arijit Biswas

"Institute of experimental hematology & Transfusion medicine , Bon, Germany" Strong intellect & motivation power to bring out the best from the group. Dr Biswas is involved with almost every research group at the institute and he helps everyone with his expert expertise in chemi-informatics & proteomics.

Nominated by: Sneha Singh, Institute of experimental hematology & Transfusion Medicine , Bon, Germany






Loredan Stefan NiculescuLab Heroes 2017 Nominee Loredan Stefan Niculescu

Lipidomics, Bucharest, Romania

"He is loyal, smart, funny. He always helps everyone. Despite the fact that he is the best colleague anyone could ever ask for, he is often taken advantage of... He deserves to win!"

Nominated by: Natalia Simionescu, Lipidomics, Bucharest, Romania




Ning YaoLab Heroes 2017 Nominee Ning Yao

The Karolinska Institute , Sweden

"Dr. Ning Yao works on a collaborative project within a program that promotes international cooperation in research and higher education. Thanks to his efforts and dedication to research, we now have published an important publication on the possible antidepressant mechanism of action of ketamine. Ning has a genuine interest in neurophysiology and neuropharmacology and has solid research ethics and integrity. He is always in a good mood and he has a great, affable personality. Ning is always ready to help everyone in and outside the lab. He never refuses to give a hand to his colleagues when they need it. He takes good care of all sorts of things in the lab, he develops methods and he contributes to a good working environment. Without him, many experiments could not have been done. Ning is truly our lab Hero."

Nominated by: Karima Chergui, Molecular Neurophysiology Lab, The Karolinska Institute, Sweden

"Ning is my best collegue I ever had. Probably the most helpful and supportive person. He is managing to combine research work in our lab and master program in epedemiology. Recently we published a paper together with Ning in Molecular Psychiatry, this is a great job, I enjoyed so much to work on this project.

I think, Ning is a real Lab Hero for our group"

Nominated by Olga Skiteva Molecular Neurophysiology Lab, The Karolinska Institute, Sweden




Wijnand van PaassenLab Heroes 2017 Nominee Wijnand van Paassem

Mimetas, The Netherlands


" He makes everything for everyone possible in the lab"

Nominated by: Karla Queiroz,  Karla Queiroz Lab, JH Oortweg





Jaehyun LeeLab Heroes 2017 Nominee Jaehyun Lee 

Department of Biological Sciences, Seoul National University, South Korea

"She have cared most of lab works including administration, financial and experimental stuffs."

Nominated by: Hyopil Kim, Laboratory of Neurobiology Department of Biological Sciences, Seoul National University, South Korea

"Jaehyun is a PhD student working very hard for her studies, but at the same time she is serving as a lab manager who supports other lab members by collecting issues and suggesting solutions. I believe she is the real unsung hero making our lab go without any big concern."

Nominated by: Pojeong Park, Bong-Kiun Kaang's lab, Seoul National University, South Korea


Fiorenza StagniLab Hero 2017 Nominee Fiorenza Stagni

Neurophysiology and Neurobiology of Developmental Brain Disorders, Bologna, Italy

"Is always supportive; Constantly puts in dedicated effort in the lab; Plays a fundamental role in the research carried out at my laboratory; Has brilliant and innovative ideas regarding the future perspectives of the research she is involved in; Shone at recent conference presentations; Has won awards for her research; Advocates for life science issues by educating students and stimulating their curiosity in life sciences.

Nominated by: Renata Bartesaghi, Neurophysiology and Neurobiology of Developmental Brain Disorders, Bologna, Italy





Thomas OlivierThomas Olivier, Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Mimetas, The Netherlands

If you need his help he will be there for you. If an equipment has a software problem he will fix it. If your data analysis needs to be easier than he is the guy to talk to.When he is around there is always a time to have a laugh. He is a fun and caring person and without him there will be chaos in the lab.

Nominated by: Wijnand van Paassen, Mimetas, The Netherlands





Dr Swarnendra SinghSwarnendra Singh, Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Cell & Imaging, Imperial Life Sciences, India

He is the person, who came to our mind when we read your email. He makes science exciting and always tries to generate enthusiasm with his works and awesome lectures. He has attended around 30 conferences and presented his work and won several awards. Dr. Singh loves traveling and utilizes that passion to spread his excitement towards science using his excellent communication and networking skills. He has a huge following on social media platforms. He is a person who is known for his supportive nature with a different level of energy for science & its expression.

Nominated by: Vatika Gupta, BSL3 Lab New Delhi, India






Khadija GhanamLab Hero 2017 Nominee Khadija Ghanam

Omniactive Health Technologies Limited, Canada

" To provide innovative products and services to reduce time, cost, and risk in the drug discovery process, with integrity, collaborating, supporting, and respecting one another, communicating openly, honestly and frequently, developing a highly motivated, valued and diverse workforce, optimizing our financial and physical resources, simplifying and improving our processes continuously.

Nominated by: Vijaya Juturu, OmniActives Prince Edward Island Lab, Canada





Kimberley EvansLab Hero 2017 Nominee Kimberly Evans

Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council, Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge, UK

"Our lab manager keeps amazing records of our stocks, experiments and manages the transgenic colonies. She ensures that the health and safety of all the lab members is secured. Kimberley makes all the projects go smoothly and efficiently."

Nominated by: Balazs Varga, Karadottir Lab, Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council, Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge

"I nominate Kimberley (Kim) for a lab hero as she is there for everyone in the lab. She helps people out with their experiments, putting others before herself. Particularly helpful for students both as a teacher for experimental research but also for psychological support -often needed.

She really goes over and above expectations to help lab members get their papers published. She heroically stays into late hours to get things done for submission of papers and grants.

Similarly, with thesis submission she also stays on to help with printing, reading over chapters for spell checking and providing comfort to reduce the stress levels often associated with thesis submission.

In addition to all this, she is an exceptional researcher in her own right - an excellent example that one can be excellent in research as well take time to help others.

A better team member is hard to find. She really pushes forward the success of her lab colleagues without seeking the fame for it."

Nominated by: Ragnhildur Thora Karadottir, Karadottir lab, Wellcome Trust - MRC Stem Cell Institute 

"Kim always goes the extra mile, whenever a helping hand is needed. When urgent childcare needs called me away from the lab, she was there, ready to help out, going beyond her call of duty.
Kim is with her always calm and unobtrusive manner the port in the storm when submission deadlines are looming. One truly only appreciates all the tasks she manages and executes when she is away. Kim is one of those unsung heroes without whom labs would stop functioning. Therefore I am very pleased to support her nomination for the Lab Heroes Awards 2017."

Nominated by: Deborah Kronenberg-Versteeg, Karadottir lab, Welcome Trust - Medical Research Council, Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge, UK

"Kimberley (Kim) is also known as our lab manager and the most amazing researcher I have ever met. A very kind person with a fascinating work attitude and a constant smile on her face. She stays in the lab until late hours, helps everyone with all kinds of (lab) problems that are often not remotely related to her own work and on top of that organises every meeting, booking and order. I truly wish to be as organised as she is one day.

Nominated by: Hendrik Mießner, Welcome Trust - Medical Research Council, Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge, UK


"No matter what time of the day and whatever you ask, she gives you her very detailed, humorous descriptions. She is a walking lexicon with witty observations. She has the best gift ideas for lab members, plus she is the best pumpkin carver in town!"

Nominated by: Eszter Pankotai , University of Cambridge, UK


"Kim provides wonderful support to everyone at the lab. As a new graduate student in the lab, I can say that she has done her utmost to make me feel welcome, train me, and provide guidance for experiments. Considering the support she constantly provides to all lab members, Kim truly is our lab hero."

Nominated by: Yasmine Kamen, Karadottir Lab, Welcome Trust - Medical Research Council, Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge, UK

Kim's contribution to the performance and the atmosphere of the lab cannot be appreciated enough to start with and these few lines do not do her justice.
Arriving in a new lab can be a daunting and certainly very challenging situation for a postgraduate student like me. The daily struggle with supposedly natural things is hard to handle, even more so if your own expectations are constantly set too high.

If there is one thing I learnt during my past weeks in the lab it is that no matter the problem or question, whether it be lab-related or personal, tiny or huge, the answer is always Kim. Regardless of the hours, the priority or her own mood or problems, with her very own sense of humour and a smile on her lips she will do whatever it takes to help everyone. She always has advice and a story to share that will remind you of the essence of your issue, to be realistic about your aims or simply encourage you when nothing seems to go right.

Not only do her unconditional helpfulness and her charming attitude at work enrich life in the lab, but her seemingly unfailing scientific knowledge and experience are vital to the group's performance. Besides working on her own project and always being available to the group, she somehow manages to keep record of all the stocks, orders and experiments without ever complaining or seeming to struggle with time or organisation.

Our lab hero Kim is the most charming, knowledgeable, dedicated, hardworking and humble person I have met and her efforts deserve to be acknowledged by the Lab Heroes Award.

Nominated by: Maike Steindel, Karadottir Lab, Welcome Trust - Medical Research Council, Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge, UK


Dr Emma YhnellEmma Yhnell, Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute, Cardiff University, UK

"Dr Emma Yhnell is a Health and Care Research Wales Fellow at Cardiff University, she is pioneering novel clinical research to investigate how computer-based brain training could help people impacted by Huntington's disease. Although the number of women in STEM careers are outnumbered by men 8:1, Emma has shown to be truly inspirational young research leader. She has progressed exceptionally rapidly within her chosen career, by securing highly competitive research funding, including a Fellowship, soon after completing her PhD. Above all, Emma is a genuine and enthusiastic role model for young women interested in careers in STEM, and she continues to promote public engagement and gender equality in science.

Emma is continuing on her rapid upward trajectory, from her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry, to her PhD in behavioural neuroscience to her postdoctoral fellowship, she was a finalist in the Rising Star category of 'Chwarea Teg's 2017 Womenspire Awards. Her recent work involves working with patients with Huntington's disease, this has given her a unique perspective on public engagement and promoting equality. Huntington's disease is a rare brain disorder which affects many aspects of daily life, however it receives little media attention and is poorly understood by the public. Therefore, Emma has developed a passion for engaging the public with both her lab-based and clinical research, to improve awareness and increase understanding. She is a prominent STEM Ambassador and sits on several local public engagement committees. She has given over 50 engagement talks with audiences including school pupils, science cafes, older people, patients and families.

Although her journey from student to academic has been swift, she hasn't forgotten her roots. Emma is also involved in educational research to investigate how early qualifications affect performance in higher education. Paired with this, she has a developing track record of teaching and supervising students. After a busy day of research, Emma often lectures within both the School of Biosciences, and the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Cardiff University.

Emma continues to inspire others and works hard to change the perception of a 'typical scientist'. Through her engagement work, she wants to show people that science can be fun, exciting, and lead to successful careers. As well as presenting her work at academic conferences, Emma has been involved in BBC radio interviews, written prize-winning articles, and talked to parliament about her research. Therefore, I believe that she truly is a lab hero."

Nominated by: Harry Potter, Hager lab, University of Manchester, UK

Irene SebastianuttoIrene Sebastianutto, Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Lund University, Sweden

"Irene Sebastianutto is definitely the most tenacious, motivated and passionate person I have ever met in science.
Irene is unstoppable in her research, brilliant and is able to deliver the highest level of research with a tremendous integrity.
I totally support Irene Sebastianutto as Lab Hero 2017

Irene is not just my lab hero, she is the lab hero in our group, building and why not, also department!"

Nominated by: Francesco Bez, Basal Ganglia Pathophysiology Lab, Lund University, Lund, Sweden




Yung-Feng LiaoYung-Feng Liao, Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Molecular Neurobiology, ICOB, Taipei, TAIWAN

"Work very hard to find a new potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

Nominated by: Yung-Feng Liao, Molecular Neurobiology, ICOB, Taipei, TAIWAN






 
Anthony WestAnthony West, Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science

"Tony is a great scientist and an amazing mentor. teaches us honesty and transparency in our work, and is patient while working with everyone in the lab. everyday we learn something new from him."

Nominated by: Feras Altwal, West Lab, Neuroscience department, Rosalind Franklin University 




Min LiuMin Liu, Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Regenerative Medicine Institute , National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway, Ireland


" It gives me great pleasure to support the nominee’s application for The Hello Bio Lab Heroes Awards 2017. As the nominee 's supervisor during her PhD, I have throughout her PhD and since, witnessed her development as a budding investigator. During her PhD, she investigated effects of Ulk4 knockout on brain formation and function. This research has led to 3 first author articles on Stem Cells, Journal of Neuroscience, Glia and 1 co-author on Journal of Cell Science. These initiate her recognition in the field of animal modelling, including an invited oral presentation on 2016 Annual Conference of the Society for Neuroscience and as one of the most outstanding 2016 non-government-funded PhD by Chinese authority. She was awarded an IRC fellowship in 2016, she mastered techniques required to develop and validate IPSC lines and their progeny i.e. cardiomyocytes. She is a highly driven, focused and a very easy person to work with."

Nominated by: Sanbing Shen, Fundamental Stem Cell Biology, Regenerative Medicine Institute, National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway, Ireland.

Yan WangYan Wang, Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Biological Sciences, University of Delaware , USA

"Dr. Wang is a clinically trained opthalmologist who joined by laboratory 13 years ago after her family immigrated to the USA. She currently serves as a research scientist I and is critical to every aspect of making my laboratory run efficiently while also doing cutting edge ophthalmology research. She should win this award because she is a superb mentor to students at career stages ranging from college freshmen to visiting professors. In this role, she trains folks in laboratory methods, helps them understand the expectations of the profession, and provides daily moral support to help students through all of the ups and downs of a research day. My laboratory would be a much more difficult place to work, and would be much less productive without the daily efforts of Dr. Wang."

Nominated by: Melinda Duncan, Melinda Duncan Lab 

Dr Andrew BeekmanAndrew Beekman, Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

School of Pharmacy, University of East Anglia, UK

" "With great power, comes great responsibility."

What do you get when you take a man with a beard, an incredible mind and an ability to perform tasks at rapid speed? That’s right, the Networker extraordinaire and all round friendly neighbourhood scientist, A.N.D.R.E.W.

Dr Andrew Beekman, PhD may not be wearing a cape right now, but according to Lucka Bibic, laboratory scientists like Andrew are the real superheroes.

Mister Beekman has been imbued with the power to change his molecular structure, which allows him to reach from one end of his lab bench to the other, as easily as undergrads might pick up their coffee cup. His ability to spread himself across multiple tasks, including helping others, is a must in today’s laboratory environment and sets Andrew apart from the rest.

When it comes to pure, unadulterated speed, A.N.D.R.E.W. is the undisputed king of the foot race. In fact, when he wears his lab coat and has a list of tasks to tick, he isn’t far off how many scientists need to act; Lighting fast, moving from one task to another seamlessly, whilst retaining control over the whole situation.

Apart from moving around the lab at the speed of light, there’s many more great things about Andrew – that is, his sharp analytical mind. Granted, creating an arsenal isn’t part of most laboratories’ day to day operations, but having a mind that can take a jumbled set of facts, techniques and equipment, and condense that into a working analytical method, is nothing short of heroic.

Among Andrew’s outstanding repertoire of skills lies one very important characteristic – Dr Chemist perceives the past, present and future as one. He naturally considers these three variables simultaneously which allows him to put his reaction on, analyse the previous data and at the same time consider what time he will be free for a quick beverage.

Andrew is the ultimate poster scientist of multitasking and flexibility. He will not only get the job done, but he’ll make sure it gets done with morality and integrity. Justice is what he strives for. That same devotion means that he places the integrity of his work above all others whilst at the same time considering how he might be able to advance the science of others.

Of course, what we haven’t mentioned yet is that all great lab superheroes have a secret weapon. A.N.D.R.E.W.’s BEARD definitely adds that extra touch of power to his laboratory arsenal.

Take that bad guys!"


Nominated by: Lucka Bibic, Stokes lab and Searcey lab, School of pharmacy, University of East Anglia, UK 

Didier LetourneurDidier Letourneur, Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

LVTS, Inserm U1148, France


"Didier Letourneur, Engineer in Material Sciences, PhD in Chemistry from Paris North University, is Research Director at CNRS. Since 2014, he is the Director of the Laboratory for Vascular Translational Science (LVTS with about 220 persons) affiliated to Inserm and Universities Paris Diderot and Paris North (http://www.lvts.fr/). He also leads there the team of Cardiovascular Bioengineering at Xavier Bichat Hospital in Paris.

D. Letourneur is actively involved in several national grants, in the regional Health Cluster Medicen, and since 2013 as European coordinator of NMP large scale project "NanoAthero"(16 partners, 10 countries). He was also involved in several FP7 European projects (Health 2007-2013 “Fighting Aneurysmal Diseases”; NMP 2009-2012 “Nanobiosensor based on surface enhanced vibrational spectroscopy”; Health 2010-2014 “Prevention of Late Stent Thrombosis”).

D. Letourneur is the author of 170 international publications, inventor of 16 patents, and won several prizes : "Coup d’Elan for Research" Bettencourt Foundation 2001, Diderot Innovation Award 2009, Cardiovascular Innovation Award 2011 from French Medical Research Foundation, and OSEO Emergence 2012 & Creation-Development 2013 for start-up creation. In 2016, he obtained the G Winter Award from the European Society for Biomaterials. In November 2017, he will receive the Asian Polymer Association Jubilee Award at New Dehli.

In 2016, he founded the company SILTISS for the development of innovative implants from polysaccharide-based materials.
He was from 2013 to 2016 at the French Council for Health technologies. He was from 2013 to 2015 vice-chairman for Regenerative Medicine at the European Technology Platform for Nanomedicine and is now General Secretaire. From 2016, he is the President of the Inserm committee on Health Technologies & Social Sciences. From 2009, he is President of BIOMAT, French Society for Biomaterials.

He has more than 100 invited lectures and seminars and is the co-organizer of numerous national and international conferences (India, Tunisia, Canada) and two Inserm training workshops for Regenerative Medicine.
In addition to scientific disseminations, D. Letourneur is engaged to highlight the lab works in several wide audience media (Radio, Web, TV).

Besides all these scientific responsibilities, D. Letourneur is always extremely reactive, enthusiasm and supportive for the lab members.
Therefore, I am pleased to recommend D. Letourneur for Lab Hero Award 2017.

Nominated by: Laurence Motte, Laboratory for Vascular Translational Science, Inserm U1148

Prof. Angela Cenci NilssonAngela Cenci Nilsson, Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Lund University, Sweden

 
"Prof. Angela Cenci Nilsson is the true lab hero in our group. She is a world leader in the research field of Parkinson’s disease and L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia and she works really hard to keep the lab running at outstanding levels to produce outstanding research. She is insanely busy with academic duties, writing of grants and travelling to European or international meetings/conferences, but she is always there for her team. She makes it possible for us to have one-to-one meetings on a weekly basis, where we discuss the results of our research and how to move forward. She carves out time to help us taking difficult decisions whenever a need arises and she is committed to guide us and provide for us not only scientifically, but also at the personal level. As an example, she is very attentive to our wellbeing, she encourages us having a healthy lifestyle and she brings vitamins and fresh fruit to the lab…which other boss does that? She is under a huge amount of pressure, yet I always see her smiling and she has such a positive attitude that it contaminates everyone in the lab. She is the true locomotive of the lab: her motto is ‘always forward and beyond’! By nominating Angela as my lab hero, I would like to acknowledge her commitment and her great work and to give back to a person who has been a role model in my life, a person who has given me really much scientifically and personally."

Nominated by: Irene Sebastianutto, Basal Ganglia Pathophysiology Unit, Lund University


Hannah WalkerHannah Walker, Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Cancer Research Unit, University of York , UK

" Hannah is one of those rare finds; she is a technician that has been in her current post for 17 years. She has shown complete loyalty to the leader of our group – Professor Norman Maitland. Over the years there has been a steady stream of students and postdocs coming and going and Hannah has provided continuity throughout. She has been a junior technician, senior technician, and when our lab manager left, Hannah has assumed the roles and responsibilities of lab manager without the title or the pay. When anything goes wrong in the lab, a flood, a piece of equipment breaking, Hannah is the first and only port of call to chase up engineers and plan the logistics of repairs. She is also heavily involved in organizing and spending the budget, and has been able to juggle several grants such that all are spent and none are overspent. On top of this is her significant lab expertise that has been put to use to produce data for multiple publications. She is talented at tissue culture, protein work and in molecular biology. She has often had to establish new techniques, ironing out the quirks and troubleshooting them, before passing them on to students to generate the results. In addition, she is an excellent teacher and is greatly respected by the undergraduate and graduate students that are under her care. She is firm but fair and they appreciate that. The lab simply would not run properly without her. I am nominating Hannah for a Lab Hero Award because she won’t get the chance to speak at a conference, winning poster prizes and networking in a nice part of the world and she isn’t working towards a qualification; which are the rewards that the people she helps will get. She comes into work everyday and does everything that needs done, which makes everybody else’s life easier and allows them to undertake their research. She is an unsung hero, as are many technicians. Their true value often is only appreciated once they are gone. Prof Maitland is going to be retiring in less than 2 years and it would be wonderful for Hannah to be acknowledged before she moves onto the next phase of her life."

Nominated by: Fiona Frame, Cancer Research Unit, Department of Biology, University of York, UK


Elena ShcherbakovaElena Shcherbakova Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Department of Chemistry, Bowling Green State University, USA

"Elena Shcherbakova joined my research group at Bowling Green State University as a Ph.D. candidate in 2012. Her doctoral research focused on the design and preparation of small fluorescent molecules called supramolecular sensors, and various aspects of supramolecular analytical chemistry. She acquired expertise in molecular sensing and made significant contributions in the field of photochemical sciences by developing a range of special techniques and new methodologies. Specifically, Elena prepared new molecular sensors, that have not been reported before, and characterized them using molecular spectroscopy techniques. Furthermore, Elena utilized these molecular sensors in designing fluorescence-based microarrays used for the detection of several analytes of interest, such as important building blocks for pharmaceuticals. The methods developed by Elena Shcherbakova offer a better performance characterized by a lower limit of detection and high throughput feasibility, and thus, are more cost-effective compared to commonly used analytical techniques.

One of Elena's most significant research contributions is the development of self-assembled supramolecular fluorescent sensors based on chiral BINOL ligands that are used as active components in signal transducers for sensing of the enantiomeric excess (ee) of chiral drugs and drug precursors. The method developed by Elena display a turn-on fluorescence response for the levels of ee that may be extremely useful as optical sensors with high selectivity in a high-throughput screening setup. Elena's work is a significant accomplishment, as no such system has been reported in the field up until now.

One major research contribution by Elena is her design and development of the first supramolecular fluorescence-based assay for proteins of the carbonic anhydrase (CA) family and their inhibitors. CA proteins found in humans are widely recognized as being expressed in numerous severe conditions, such as epilepsy or osteoporosis. Elena utilized new fluorescent molecular sensors in the development of a high-throughput analytical system for qualitative and quantitative analysis of a sample of CA and/or their inhibitors. This method opens new avenues in the drug development process in the pharmaceutical industry by evaluating the binding affinity of CA inhibitors (drug candidates) based only on the fluorescence response signal. This unprecedented and important work was published in the journal Chem, which is widely known to publish pioneering chemistry research, and thus, demonstrates the significance of Elena's research to the field.Her innovative research was published and has been highlighted on front covers of JACS and Angewandte Chemie."

Nominated by: Pavel Anzenbacher, Jr Anzenbacher Research Group

Mo RassulMo Rasul Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

School of Cancer Sciences University of Birmingham, UK

"Mo is the nicest PhD I have ever met. He is always helpful, and looking to help. He is always on call if you need anything, and looks to make lab life easier, whether it is sorting out the equipment, or helping organize the lab. He always goes above and beyond, sometimes annoyingly. If he knows you have an experiment late at night he will offer to do the unsocial hours for you, and keep you company if you refuse it. He constantly checks up on people in the lab to make sure they are ok, and keeps up to date on what people are doing to make sure he can be helpful.
He is always around with a smile on his face, and tries exceptionally hard to put one on your face as well. Oh and he is constantly offering people sugary foods to perk them up, normally when you need it the most. I have no clue how he manages that."

Nominated by: Maria Ceprián Neuro Optical Trauma

Masahiro OtsuMasahiro Otsu Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

School of Cancer Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK

"Masa is always available to help, whether it is something simple like helping you problem solve or something complex like helping to deal with a broken machine, he will immediately drop what he is doing and will help you full force.

Masa on many points has seen me and other people in the lab struggling and would help, and at some points even plan out experiments for us to try, so that we can progress.

Masa is a great scientist, keeps immaculate notes, and is really dedicated. There have been points of time when I have come into the lab really late at night and he is still in working. If anyone deserves recognition for the amount of effort they put into the lab community and research in general it is masa"

Nominated by: Muhammed Rassul, Fulton Lab

"Masa has been part of our lab for almost 2 years. He works incredibly hard and is always running around doing many experiments. He is a wealth of knowledge and is always happy to help if you ask him a question! He's always here when I leave in the evening and is in most weekends! He has a true dedication to science."

Nominated by: Chloe Thomas, Neuroscience and Ophthalmology Lab

Paola BonsiPaola Bonsi Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Fondazione Santa Lucia, Rome, Italy

"I would like to name Paola Bonsi as my lab hero because she is really the soul of the Lab. She can motivate people, teach them a lot of things, help them in times of trouble, and always think of being a"" group"". Paola make a real difference every day, she is supportive of their colleagues and always worries about the well-being of everyone.Paola is excited about her work and knows how to convey this enthusiasm. Moreover she is always present and is a driving leader. She is an excellent scientist and a really nice person."

Nominated by: Giuseppina Martella Lab of Neurophysiology and Plasticity




Dr Thomas PiersThomas Piers Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Cell Signalling Lab , University College London Institute of Neurology, UK

"We would all be buried under piles of old Eppendorf tips and tubes, tissue culture bottles, old cells, gels and plates if Tom were as disorganized as the rest of the lab. His ability to tolerate the rest of us and our messy ways knows no bounds and his knack of checking more often than the rest of us when we are about to run out of supplies stops the lab grinding to a halt. His amiable tolerance keeps the lab going so he is our lab hero.

Nominated by: Jennifer Pocock, Cell Signalling Lab




Kate Fisher Lab Hero 2017 Nominee

Kate Fisher

FBMH , University of Manchester

" I would like to nominate Kate because our lab would not be such a smooth running, happy lab without her. Kate is the loveliest person to work with and she will always try to help everyone regardless of whether she has a lot of, quite difficult, work herself. For example, she has set up the CRISPR technique in our lab whilst differentiating iPSCs into neurons, helping me make a stable transfection of a protein, ordering products and helping new students learn western blot, cell culture, PCR. Kate has helped with some exciting new discoveries, including the locations of proteins within the lipid rafts, and the effects of neuroprotective proteins on the synapses of the iPSC-derived neurons. The range of techniques and cell types/tissues she handles is impressive. She is our guru for molecular biology. She's never impatient when teaching others and she will always give up her time, even her lunch, for any of us. She always does everything with a smile on her face. She made me feel welcome when I joined the group. Kate is not only a wonderful and bright scientist, but also a genuinely lovely person, and life in the Hooper lab would not be the same without her."

Nominated by: Nicola Corbett, Hooper Lab

Giulia AntognolliGiulia Antognolli Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Univ Trieste, Italy

"The best pre-doc student ever had!"

Nominated by: Elsa Fabbretti, Elsa Fabbretti Lab





Sibylle BechetSibylle Bechet Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Dept of Physiology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI) , Dublin, Ireland

"Sibylle is one of the best researchers I have ever met, not only in terms of technique quality, but also because of her excellent ideas and moreover as a person. She will always help everyone, no matter what or when. She is helpful, kind, funny and makes the lab such a nice place, it is a pleasure to go to work every morning. I could keep giving reasons why she deserves to be the lab Hero 2017 forever, that nothing I could say would be enough to describe what a wonderful person and scientist Sibylle is!"

Nominated by: Maria Velasco


Anne Catrin RaketeAnne Catrin Rakete Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Neurophysiology AG Lohr , University of Hamburg , Germany

"Best technical assistance, always supportive, makes the lab a great place to work"

Nominated by: Kristina Schulz, Neurophysiology AG Lohr





Magdalena JulkowskaMagdalena Julkowska Lab Hero 2017 Nominee

Division of Biological & Environmental Science & Engineering , King Abdullah University of Science and Technology , Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

"Magda is super Post-Doc and an absolutely amazing person to work with, laugh with and actually talk science with! She has a super energetic and positive attitude towards life and everything and is always happy to keep things silly and professional at the same time! She saved my PhD project and it was an honour to work with her on my first publication and she has brought to life a wonderful sense of collaboration in the lab with the other PhD students as well. She really is the hero in our lab, because she really manifests the sense of real collaboration and integrity with a very fun twist!

Nominated by Mariam Awlia Salt Lab

"Because she's amazing."

Nominated by Mitchell Morton, Salt lab

" Magdalene is a postdoc in the lab I'm working in and she is the most helpful person I know and she has deep passion for science. She is also very collaborative and is transparent about her work and likes to include others if they offer to help."

Nominated by: Nadia Al-Tamimi The Salt Lab

"Magda is a very energetic and enthusiastic scientist. She likes to collaborate with others and involves young scientists in her work and help them grow. "

Nominated by: Stephanie Saade, The Salt Lab

"She is always helpful and makes the lab a better place to work in."

Nominated by: Ge Gao The Salt Lab

Dean HallamDean Hallam Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Newcastle University, Institute of Genetic Medicine, UK


"I am nominating Dr. Hallam for the following reasons:

Is always supportive

Repeatedly puts in extra effort in the lab

Advocates for life science issues (e.g. funding) and patients groups

Has won awards for his research

Shares great content on social media and generates high quality presentations and figures

Gives fantastic lectures

Produced an amazing poster

Shone at a recent conference presentation

is simply a great character who makes their lab a wonderful place to work!"


Nominated by: Lyle Armstrong reprogramming laboratory

Laura StafmanLaura Stafman Lab Heroes 2017 nominee

University of Alabama , Birmingham Alabama, USA

"I am the undergraduate in the lab so it would be easy to treat me as unimportant. Laura, however, always takes the time to show me laboratory techniques and explain what's going on so that I can understand and learn. She is a surgery resident who is so dedicated to research that she is taking time off from her residency to pursue her Ph.D. in cancer biology in addition to working full time in the lab and maintaining her commitments to family and friends. She has won several awards for her research presentations, including

  • Winner of Surgical History Group Poster Award, American College of Surgeons, 2017
  • 1st Place Winner, Resident Poster Presentation, Alabama Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, 2017
  • 1st Place Winner, Resident Poster Presentation, Alabama Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, 2016
  • Kaizen Overall Points Winner, University of Alabama at Birmingham General Surgery Residency Program, 2015
  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award/ T32 Grant, CA091078, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2015

Laura is incredibly passionate about the lab's work and works tirelessly in the fight against pediatric cancer. But more importantly, she is a joy to be around and never talks down to me or makes me feel unwelcome or unimportant. She is patient when I am slow to learn and quick to praise when I master a particular skill, even a simple one. She is an amazing teacher and mentor as well as a talented clinician. She cares deeply for patients present and future, dedicating her time and energy to developing cures for children she will never meet. She is genuinely deserving of the Lab Hero award not only because of the significance of her research but because of the integrity, graciousness, and poise she exhibits both in the lab and out."

Nominated by: Caroline Goolsby 

Elena KutsarovaElena Kutsarova Lab Heroes 2017 nominee

Montreal Neurological Institute , Montreal, Canada

"Elena is always helping all the other members of the lab to do their best. She's a scientific advisor, technical guru and a touchstone of dedication for the other lab members."

Nominated by: Ed Ruthazer, Ruthazer Lab





Austin ColeyAustin Coley Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA

"Austin's research focuses on postsynaptic density 95 (PSD-95), a highly abundant protein that is involved in excitatory synaptic transmission, synaptic maturation and plasticity in the central nervous system. PSD-95 has been recently implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism and schizophrenia. However, the effects of PSD-95 deficiency on the synaptic function of prefrontal neurons remain unknown. This project aims to explore how absence of PSD-95 affects synaptic maturation and function, as well as connectivity and function of the prefrontal cortex by using state-of-the-art techniques, including whole-cell patch clamp recordings, western blotting, optogenetic stimulation, and behavioral analysis. These results will provide novel insights on the roles of PSD-95 deficiency in understanding the development of prefrontal cortex and associated neuropsychiatry disorders.

Austin Coley, a PhD candidate in neuroscience in the laboratory of Wen-Jun Gao, PhD, is a recipient of the F99/K00 fellowship from the NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Unlike other fellowships, this two-phase program funds two years of PhD study followed by four years of postdoctoral work.

Formally named the NIH Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award, the program is geared toward supporting mentored research training for exceptional graduate students from backgrounds underrepresented in neuroscience on their path to full-time faculty positions."

Nominated by: Wen-Jun Gao, Gao Lab

Androniki RaftogianniAndroniki Raftogianni

Schaller Research Group on Neuropeptides (German Cancer Research Center-DKFZ) , Central Institute of Mental Health,Mannheim,Germany


"It is my pleasure to nominate Dr. Androniki (Niki) Raftogianni for the Lab Heroes Award 2017. I have known Niki since June 2013 when she joined my lab as a postdoctoral research scientist. She has a strong background in Behavioral Neuroscience and has employed a variety of laboratory techniques. In my lab, Niki has mastered in cutting edge techniques, such as opto- and pharmacogenetics. She has received both national and international awards for her research studies [such as a Scholarship (program 2013-2014) granted by the Greek National Scholarship Foundation (GNSF), To the memory of MARIA ZAOUSI bequest for experimental postdoctoral research abroad, in psychiatric-related subjects, an IBRO In Europe Short Stay Grant in October 2013 (Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, group: Neurobiology of Stress), a full scholarship (2009-2013) from GNSF for her PhD studies and a variety of travel/poster awards]. Last year, she was awarded one out of five international travel grant awards (Inscopix) in order to attend the SfN meeting in San Diego, CA, USA (2016). It is worth mentioning that Niki's SfN poster entitled "Evoked oxytocin release in the medial prefrontal cortex facilitates social interaction in female rats" was selected as a Neuroscience 2016 Hot Topic. Thus, the SfN shared her lay language summary with the media as part of Neuroscience 2016's Hot Topics book. Furthermore, she has been an active member of international Neuroscience societies such as the IBRO, FENS,EBBS since 2009. She has been elected as young scientist member of the EBBS executive committee (Sep.2015-Sep.2018). Currently, she is in the process of submission of two manuscripts focused on how oxytocin within the infralimbic area promotes social behavior and on the role of CRH/CRHRs in stress and reproduction. The outstanding and novel data of these two papers will be of outmost importance for the neuroscience audience. 

Niki is well organized and meticulous, with an authentic, deep interest in science and especially in the field of Neurosciences. In the lab she has proved herself extremely competent, combining theoretical knowledge with very effective application. Niki is a very intelligent young woman, with a creative mind and high intellectual and technical capabilities. She is extremely motivated and capable of independent work. She has a very pleasant personality and she possesses excellent communication and cooperation skills.

I wish Niki great success and will be happy to provide any further information, if required."

Nominated by: Valery Grinevich, Valery Grinevich Neuropeptides Lab

Joseph CollinJoseph Collin Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Newcastle University , Institute of Genetic Medicine , UK


"I'd like to nominate Dr. Collin for the following reasons;

Is always supportive and ready to help his colleagues

Repeatedly puts in extra effort in the lab

Advocates for life science issues (e.g. funding) and patient groups

always keen to implement the new technologies in the lab

produces interesting lectures and writes fantastic papers"

Nominated by: Majlinda Lako, stem cell lab

Eriola HoxhaEriola Hoxha Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Neuroscience Institute Cavalieri Ottolenghi, University of Turin, Italy

"Eriola is a very talented researcher. She's also a very nice person who loves teaching her students and explain them what to do. She always available for her team and for who needs help in the institute. Eriola has always brilliant ideas and has a huge knowledge about lot of fields, not only neuroscience. She's a real lab hero.

Nominated by: Ilaria Balbo, Neurophysiology of neurodegenerative disease

"She is simply the hero dreamt by any researcher!"

Nominated by: Linda Masante 

"She should win because is a great worker, always trying to discover new things and is very good in her job. She is a mom and a scientist, she deserves to win because even if she has two children she is always concentrated when she is at work, and is full of enthusiasm. She is literally the woman I want to be in the future, this is why she is my lab hero."

Nominated by: Vanessa Zambelli 

"My lab hero every day manages three lines of research and coordinates seven graduate and undergraduate students. She sets up new techniques and starts new experiments. Every day, when she is at home, she also runs her family including her husband who is also at work most of the time and her two little daughters."

Nominated by: Filippo Tempia, Neurophysiology of Neurodegenerative Diseases

 "In my opinion Eriola deserves to be defined a lab hero, because of her brilliant management skills.

In fact, not only she has a wide and deep knowledge in neuroscience, but also she is able to move with a critical eye in different research fields. Thanks to this, the direction of our new studies is always well defined and stimulating.
She is very interested in sharing her abilities to the colleagues, so the working environment benefits from her positive attitude. It is always a pleasure to work with her, even when the assignments are demanding. 
She’s not the lab hero we deserve, but she’s the lab hero we need."

Nominated by: Francesco Ravera, NICO - Neuroscience Institute Cavalieri Ottolenghi, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria

Ameya KastureAmeya Kasture Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Institute of Pharmacology , Vienna, Austria

"too many reasons, to name a few:
1) very kind and always, always helpful
2) extremely smart!
3) extremely hard working
4) truly loves and does science with all his heart"

Nominated by: Sonja Sucic





Kristina SchulzKristina Schulz Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

University of Hamburg , Germany

"always supportive"

Nominated by: Antonia Beiersdorfer, Neurophysiology





Sotiris KakanosSotiris Kakanos Lab Heroes 2017 Nominee

Wolfson Centre for Age Related Diseases , King's College London , UK

"Sotiris is a great science-problem listener. He has a real passion for problem solving and engineering. Any difficulty that I have encountered in the lab, whether to do with my experiments, a methodology or a piece of equipment, he is quick to come up with a solution. Where I (and others) simply accept a convoluted and lengthy methodology, he will invest his own time and energy in coming up with an automated solution - and he is happy to build or program it into reality for the benefit of everyone.

As if this universal interest in learning and understanding were not enough to qualify him as a lab hero, he is never short on enthusiasm. If I ever find that a study is becoming dull, I only need to explain it to him to reignite my own interest in the purpose of the experiment. He is always happy to participate in scientific discussion, regardless of whether it's of use to his own project, or relevant to his field of study. He is never afraid to ask a question, even when he knows little of the subject and, as such, he often uncovers assumptions which need to be tested or proposed experiments which have been overlooked.

Sotiris is a fantastic presence in the lab and reminds us all that we are in science to learn more about the world and that we can enjoy that process, regardless of how our experiments are going. He definitely deserves to be a lab hero, I think he provides a perfect role model."

Nominated by: Elizabeth Mann, Duty Lab


Mr Rakesh Kumar MajhiRakesh Kumar Majhi Lab Heroes 2017 nominee

School of Biological Sciences, National Institute of Science Education and Research, India

"*Did excellent work with good publications.
* Did it in a new lab in a new institute
* Guided many junior students
* Did quality work even under resource limited conditions. "

Nominated by: Chandan Goswami, CG lab (Cell biology of Pain)





Gabriele BajGabriele Baj Lab Heroes 2017 Nominees

Univ of Trieste Dept of Life Science, Italy

"always supportive of colleagues in order to make the lab a great place to work! "

Nominated by: Elsa Fabbretti 





Salah HoomanSalah Hooman Lab Heroes Awards 2017 Nominee

McGill University, California

"Working non-stop and multitasking"


Nominated: by David Stellwagen, Stellwagen's Lab