Institute technician team recognised with Outstanding Collaborator Award

Institute technician team recognised with Outstanding Collaborator Award

Institute technician team recognised with Outstanding Collaborator Award

Key points:

  • The co-organisers of the inaugural Animal Technician Conference, held in November 2022, have been awarded an Outstanding Collaborator Award for their achievement in devising and leading the Institute’s first dedicated event for animal technicians.
  • The award was announced at the Research Institute Technician Symposium, held on 3rd March at the Wellcome Sanger Institute.
  • The Outstanding Collaborator award recognises those who have had a pivotal role in driving a collaboration forward or in supporting a collaboration, by demonstrating outstanding skills, unwavering resilience and initiative to solve problems together.

The Institute is delighted to congratulate the creators and co-organisers of the Institute’s inaugural Animal Technician Conference, Jess and Abbie, for receiving the Outstanding Collaborator Award at this year’s Research Institute Technician Awards (the RITAs).

The conference, held last November, brought together over 170 animal technicians from the Institute and from research institutions, universities and industry from across the UK. The RITA award is especially meaningful because it was at the 2021 Research Institute Technician Symposium that the seed of the idea was first planted.

Institute Director, Dr Simon Cook, remarked: “Jess and Abbie showed great initiative, vision and leadership in creating the Animal Technician Conference. In the space of twelve months they identified the lack of networking opportunities for animal technicians, spoke to other technicians about career development and finally conceived and organised the conference. I’m delighted that their efforts, along with those of the wider organising team, have been recognised by this award. As an Institute that values the work, commitment and expertise of all our technical specialists, we are proud of the leadership they have shown across the community and salute them for their drive and determination.”

The Research Institute Technician Group (RITG) represents technicians at research institutes, such as at the Babraham Institute, Sanger Institute, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, John Innes Centre, Institute of Cancer Research and the Medical Research Council, and supports the goals of the Technician Commitment. The 2023 Research Institute Technician Awards were presented at the Research Institute Technician Symposium held at the Wellcome Sanger Institute on 3rd March, which focused on the theme of building career confidence as a technical specialist. The judging panel for the awards was made up of representatives from the RITG network of institutes. Speaking about the decision to recognise Jess and Abbie with the Outstanding Collaborator Award, Alison Lane, Head of Genotyping and Technician Commitment Lead at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, said: “The members of RITG were impressed by the initiative and creativity shown by Abbie and Jess in identifying a need for better connectivity for animal technicians at RITS 2021 and turning this into a conference in just one year. This collaborative endeavour will have a lasting impact for technicians and really exemplifies what this award, and the Technician Commitment as a whole, is all about.”

Reflecting on the award, Abbie said: “The conference was everything we hoped it would be, and really put the focus on the valuable work of animal technicians in supporting research and how we can direct and develop our careers. It was a pleasure to work with Jess and the rest of the team, I’d like to especially thank Bobbie and Mike for their help, and I’m really happy that Jess and I can share this award.”

At the same event, the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Derek Davies from the Francis Crick Institute. Derek was nominated by Dr Rachael Walker, Head of the Flow Cytometry facility at the Babraham Institute. Derek has worked closely with the facility team over the years as one the trainers of the flow cytometry training courses that have trained and supported over 2,000 people, both from the Institute and external organisations.

Congratulations to all 2023 RITA recipients, who were:

  • Rising Star Award - Edward Hems (John Innes Centre) and Rebecca Orha (Institute of Cancer Research)
  • Technical Skills Award - Richard Pearson (Sanger Institute) and Kim Findlay (John Innes Centre)
  • Outstanding Collaborator Award (Team) – Jess and Abbie for their work on the Animal Technician Conference (Babraham Institute)
  • Outstanding Collaborator Award (Individual) - Naomi Wang (John Innes Centre)
  • Outreach and KE Award (Team) - Crop transformation team (John Innes Centre)
  • Outreach and KE Award (Individual) - Petra Korlevic (Sanger Institute)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award - Derek Davies (Francis Crick Institute
  • Training and Mentoring Award - Matthew Bush (John Innes Centre), Rosie Hillier (MRC Mary Lyon Centre), Hazel Rogers (Sanger Institute)

Other members of Institute staff nominated for a RITA award were:

  • BSU unit staff - Outstanding Collaborator Award team nomination
  • Lipidomics team - Outreach and Knowledge Exchange team nomination
  • Asif Nakhuda, Gene Targeting Facility Manager - Rising Star Award nomination
  • Sam Thompson, Flow Cytometry Specialist - Rising Star Award nomination

Babraham Institute’s Technician Commitment lead, Deputy Flow Cytometry Facility Manager Christopher Hall, said: “The 2023 event and RITA awards were inspiring and a great opportunity to celebrate the difference technicians make in a huge variety of roles. It’s also a valuable opportunity to reflect on career opportunities and to connect with other technical-focused roles. Congratulations to everyone involved this year’s event and to the award winners. I’d also like to thank everyone at the Institute who took the time to nominate their colleagues in recognition of their valuable contributions to the work of the Institute.”



Press contact:

Dr Louisa Wood, Head of Communications,

Babraham Animal Technician Conference Team:

Abbie, former animal technician in the BSU

Jess, former animal technician in the BSU

Sarah, animal technician in the BSU

Richard, Named Information Manager, BSU

Michael Hinton, Web Development Manager and Technician Commitment Steering Group member

Susan Buttress, Events Officer

Bobbie Claxton, Scientific Support & Events Manager

Emily Boyce, Knowledge Exchange Manager

Animal research statement

As a publicly funded research institute, the Babraham Institute is committed to engagement and transparency in all aspects of its research. Please follow the link for further details of our animal research and our animal welfare practices:

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.

Blog: ‘Educating RITA’ – the Research Institute Technician Symposium 2021

Our colleague Mike shares more about the event that sparked the idea leading to the creation of the Animal Technician Conference

Technician Commitment

Our action plan for working towards the four key areas of the Technician Commitment