< Back to News

Outstanding Technicians Awarded Papin Prizes at HETS2021

Higher education and research technicians from across the UK have been honoured with prestigious awards which recognise excellence in academia at the UK’s only event dedicated to celebrating the success and achievements of technical staff.

Thirteen Papin Prizes were presented across a range of categories at the biennial Higher Education Technicians Summit (HETS) organised by Midlands Innovation and TALENT in partnership with the Science Council and Technician Commitment.

Two additional COVID-19 categories were added to this year’s list of awards to acknowledge technicians who made significant contributions to the COVID-19 response in local communities and nationally.

Almost 200 nominations were received across ten categories and a team of judges selected the most deserving winners from more than 50 higher education and research institutes. The awards were presented at HETS where almost 500 delegates attended the event.

Professor Andy Long, Deputy Vice Chancellor & Provost, University of Nottingham opened HETS with a speech recognising the ‘significant contribution’ technicians in higher education and research make.

In a first for the technician community, representation from the UK’s largest funding body was part of the running order and Professor Dame Ottoline Lesyer, Chief Executive of UKRI delivered a personal message to the technician community.

Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive, Royal Society of Chemistry and Chair of Technician Commitment Steering Board also gave an update on the expanding Technician Commitment initiative and its impact on advancing visibility, status and recognition for technicians across the UK.

Fran Scott, engineering presenter, pyrotechnician and well-known public figure on TV and stage delivered a lively keynote speech to technicians celebrating their ability to adapt, get things done and their can-do attitude.

The following Papin Prizes were presented by Amanda Solloway MP:

Contribution to Infrastructure
A member of technical staff that has made a significant contribution to day-to-day infrastructure to support research and/or teaching – for example, roles may include technical staff who look after building facilities or technicians that provide key services.
Winner: Catherine Davies, University of Manchester  

Contribution to Research
A member of technical staff that has made a significant contribution to research.
Winner: Oniz Suleyman, Queen Mary University of London

Contribution to Teaching
A member of technical staff that has made a significant contribution to the student teaching and learning experience.
Winner: Natalie Sobey, University of Plymouth 

Core Research Facility
A member of technical staff within a central research facility/platform who has provided exceptional skills/expertise.
Winner: Laura Wilkinson Hewitt - University of Leeds (Protein Production Facility) 

COVID-19 Recognition (National Impact)
An award to recognise someone who has played a significant role in the national response to COVID-19 
Winner: Sequencing Operations Team – Wellcome Sanger Institute 

COVID-19 Recognition (Community Impact)
An award to recognise someone who has played a significant role in the community response to COVID-19 

  • Andy Tallis, University of East Anglia 
  • Judith Mayne, University of East Anglia  
  • Kent Technical Services, COVID PPE Response Team, University of Kent

An individual who has embarked on a technical career within the past four years and shown exceptional promise - for example, this may be a trainee or apprentice technician.
Winner: Lola Ogunyemi, University of Nottingham 

A member of technical staff that has made a significant contribution to community/outreach activities.
Winner: Katherine Hardy, Nottingham Trent University  

Technical Team
A technical team which has worked together to deliver excellence.
Winner: Farnham Printmaking Team - University for the Creative Arts

The Professor Lord Bhattacharyya Lifetime Achievement Award
An award to recognise continued excellence and/or significant achievements across an individual's technical career.
Winner: Bob Hide, University of York 

Papin Prize Medal 
A special medal awarded in recognition of the recipient’s contributions to advancing the status and opportunity of the technical community in academia. It is awarded by the Executive Committee of the eight Midlands Innovation universities.
Winner: Dr Ian Hancox, University of Warwick

Read the full list of highly commended technicians here (All shortlisted technicians were highly commended) 


Notes to editors: 

HETS has grown from strength-to-strength since it was established in 2015 by Midlands Innovation, in partnership with the Science Council. The previous event in 2019 saw seven outstanding technicians receive Papin Prizes. This is the fourth time Papin Prizes have been awarded at the biennial HETS event.

Midlands Innovation is a collaboration of eight research intensive universities in the Midlands (Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Leicester, Loughborough, Keele, Nottingham and Warwick).

Papin prizes are named after Denis Papin, a 17th century technician who worked with Robert Boyle. He invented the steam digester and was one of the first technicians to publish in his own name. The awards celebrate technicians who have demonstrated excellence in practice.

The 2021 event was held at East Midlands Conference Centre, University of Nottingham.