Prizes awarded for outstanding achievements at the annual Lab Talks

Prizes awarded for outstanding achievements at the annual Lab Talks

Prizes awarded for outstanding achievements at the annual Lab Talks

Earlier this month the Institute came together to share the latest research findings, hear about learnings from the pandemic and celebrate contributions to science, as part of the annual LabTalks event. The hybrid event saw staff gather in person for the first time since the lockdown in March 2020 with the event live streamed for staff who were working remotely.

Dr Simon Cook, Interim Director, described the atmosphere of the day: “It was incredibly exciting to see everyone come along to listen to the latest work from the Institute over the two days. With talks ranging from PhD project results to sustainability at work and facility updates was a great reminder of the fantastic activities going on across all departments. I was particularly pleased to welcome our keynote speaker Dr Ewan St. John Smith from the University of Cambridge who introduced us all to the age defying biology of naked mole-rats.”

To round off the two-day event, prizes are awarded for research excellence, knowledge exchange and commercialisation, public engagement, supporting equality and diversity, and creating an engaging scientific image.

Dr Jo Durgan delivered the Sir Michael Berridge lecture covering her work from the publication "Non-canonical autophagy drives alternative ATG8 conjugation to phosphatidylserine" published in Molecular Cell in April 2021. This work allows researchers to distinguish between branches of the autophagy pathway. 

In a difficult year for public engagement and science communication, many nominees went above and beyond to each audiences with exciting projects. The nominees’ activities ranged from authoring children’s books to public talks about COVID-19 and adapting practical projects for students to participate in online. The Public Engagement prize went to two teams of researchers: The VACCINE team who worked with game developers and 25 year 9 students to create an interactive outbreak simulator and the Escape Room team who adapted their epigenetics based escape room into an online experience. You can read more about all of the nominees and winners on the Public Engagement team blog.

The Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation Prize was awarded to Maria Rostovskaya for her leadership on a cell therapy translational research project originating from her research. Maria was commended by the judges for her commitment to the project throughout the process, from conducting experimental work, to providing key support in the patent filing.

Melanie Stammers received the equality4success Prize. As the roving researcher, Melanie has supported the work of researchers on long term leave, most commonly maternity leave. Melanie has written about her experience alongside Melanie Eckersley-Maslin in an e4s blog.

c elegans head taken with scanning electron microscope

Staff from across the Institute voted for their favourite scientific image, this year’s Image Prize was awarded to Laetitia Chauve for her scanning electron micrograph of the head of an adult C. elegans worm. Visit the online gallery to view past winners and entries.

This year, a prize was awarded to recognise the efforts of the Facility staff who have continued to support researchers throughout the pandemic. The winning facility, the Biological Support Unit, adapted their working patterns to comply with Covid-19 distancing regulations and ensured that essential experiments could continue.

Students and postdocs delivered updates on their research throughout the event, covering Signalling, Immunology and Epigenetics. The best PhD talk this year went to Neesha Kara for her talk on genome-wide detection of DNA replication using TrAEL-seq. The postdoc prize went to Alyssa Silva-Cayetano, who presented their work investigating the reasons for a reduced germinal centre response in aged mice.

In addition to presentations, the LabTalks programme also includes a PhD student poster session where students share their research projects and results with the Institute community. Poster prizes were awarded to first, second, and third year students:

First year student poster prizes:

1st place Tombi Makuyana, Liston lab, 2nd place Roksana Duktiewicz, Sharpe lab


Second year student poster prizes:

1st place Laura Weatherdon, Cook lab, 2nd place Rachael Kimber Ribeiro de Almeida lab


Third year student poster prizes:

1st place Adam Bendall, Rugg-Gunn lab 2nd place Vanessa D'Angeli, Turner lab

Reflecting on this year’s LabTalks, Dr Simon Cook said: “My congratulations go to all of this year’s prize winners. I would also like to thank Sarah Ross, Oliver Florey, Bobbie Claxton, Susan Buttress and Cheryl Smythe for all of their hard work and dedication behind the scenes in organising LabTalks this year as a hybrid event.”


Honor Pollard, Communications Officer,


Related resources:

News 17 June 2019: Personal achievements recognised as part of annual Lab Talks event

For an overview of the awards and past award winners visit the Impact Prizes page. 

About the Babraham Institute

The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Our research focuses on cellular signalling, gene regulation and the impact of epigenetic regulation at different stages of life. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Institute is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, through Institute Strategic Programme Grants and an Institute Core Capability Grant and also receives funding from other UK research councils, charitable foundations, the EU and medical charities.


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