Scientist wins first 'Creative Mentorship' award
Press release issued: 24 March 2005
One of science's least recognised skills has been rewarded for the first time as two awards for mentoring in science were announced last week. Innes Cuthill, Professor of Behavioural Ecology at Bristol University won the award for scientist in mid career, and Tom Kibble, Professor of Physics at Imperial College, for a lifetime achievement in science.
One of science's least recognised skills has been rewarded for the first time as two awards for mentoring in science were announced last week.
Innes Cuthill, Professor of Behavioural Ecology at Bristol University won the award for scientist in mid career, and Tom Kibble, Professor of Physics at Imperial College, for a lifetime achievement in science.
Nature, the world's most prestigious science journal, and NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) set out to find examples of outstandingly good people-management in UK labs – in particular, the way lab heads empower their students.
Scientists do not get promoted on the basis of good mentorship, but on the amount and quality of their publications. Nature and NESTA believe that recognizing good mentors is the first step in correcting that oversight. Protégés of Professor Cuthill spoke of 'an open door', 'listening skills', and the right balance between suggestions and encouraging students to develop their own ideas.
Professor Cuthill said of his award: "Apart from the prestige of winning, simply being nominated has been one of the nicest things that has happened to me in my career. It's wonderful that five former PhD students, with their own busy lives to lead, had fond enough memories of their time in Bristol to take the time and effort to nominate me."
One of those students, Sarah Hunt, who was also at the award ceremony said of her former teacher: "He is one of the best undergraduate and post-graduate teachers I have known. He also happens to be an incredibly original thinker and creative scientist who knows how to bring out those qualities in others."
Dr Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief at Nature said: 'All too often we hear horror stories about labs where students are left to sink or swim. We are delighted to recognise these much-neglected skills that we feel are so important in the development of outstanding science. The winners are fully deserving of this recognition.'
NESTA Trustee Nancy Rothwell, who presented the prizes, said: "As a NESTA Trustee I have seen the importance of mentoring through our experience of investing in UK innovators. We don't just give money but offer access to professional support and expertise from carefully selected mentors. The guidance offered by them often makes the difference in turning a great idea into as successful one. For that reason we are delighted to be working with Nature on these important new prizes."Professor Cuthill designs innovative experiments to test questions about the evolutionary and ecological forces that shape an animal's behaviour and the way it perceives the world around it. In recent years, he has been focussing on differences in colour vision between humans and other animals, and the consequences of this for the camouflage of their prey.