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MHLS nominees

Winners 2022

Dr Karla O'Neill (Research award, co-winner)

Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine

"I am nominating Dr Karla O’Neill for the Research Excellence Prize in recognition of her exceptional performance and commitment to academic research. Her major highlights over the past year are award of a 3-year British Heart Foundation (BHF) project grant as Principal Investigator (£285K), focussed on DNA methylation and ischaemic cardiovascular disease, and publication of a related senior author review article in Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy (impact factor: 3.9). Together, these significant achievements will allow Karla to establish an independent research programme and academic profile as the basis for a future Fellowship application. This will also be supported by recruitment of a talented Indian PhD student through the highly competitive Faculty DfE international studentship scheme, who will work alongside Karla on her BHF DNA methylation project and for whom she will act as assistant supervisor. These accomplishments build on a previously awarded BHF project grant on which Karla is co-investigator (in addition to several other unsuccessful proposals), publication of 11 high-quality research manuscripts since joining QUB in 2015 (mean impact factor: 6.6), and supervision of several PhD students, all of which has been achieved despite three periods of maternity leave. Karla would be a worthy recipient of this prize."

Dr Simon Haughey (Research award, co-winner)

School of Biological Sciences

"Dr Haughey has played a hugely important role in the development of the ASSET Technology Centre based within the Institute for global Food Security.  It has become a  world renowned centre of excellence in analytical chemistry. Based on his own concepts he has led the spectroscopic research strand of the ASSET Lab to deliver high quality research which has generated enormous impact globally. Coupling state of the art devices to the ability to undertake high level chemometric data analysis has yielded substantial research funding from EU, UK and industry sources. This is now advancing to exploit Machine Learning and AI. His research work played a very significant contribution to the submission of three world leading Case Studies for REF2021This research has supported the development of the world-leading Food Fortress scheme underpinning the £5bn NI agri-food industry. His research has resulted in the detection of serious fraud in the herb and spice sector in many countries and played a pivotal role in determining the cause of multiple food related illnesses and deaths in Uganda. His spectroscopy work has been spun out into a new QUB company BIA-Analytical and he is the Chief Scientific Officer of this exciting venture."

Dr Niall Byrne (Citizenship and outreach award)

School of Pharmacy

"I am delighted to nominate Niall Byrne for the citizenship and outreach award. Niall is the postdoc representative for the School of Pharmacy and plays an active role to promote opportunities and build a positive researcher community in the School, notably by organising the welcoming of new postdocs, informal gatherings, and sharing relevant information. He also ensures academic staff and senior management are aware of developments concerning postdocs by providing regular updates at the School board. He actively participates in the PDC Representatives’ Network, sharing good practice with other Schools and providing input to central projects. Niall is keen to promote the visibility and recognition of postdocs, and originated a project for the 2022 National postdoc Appreciation Week, which will see the profiles of multiple postdocs across the university shared on social media, websites and at the Postdoc Showcase. Niall is one of the driving members of the Postdoc Showcase organisation committee, which will enable research staff to network and share their work, in addition to benefit from external speakers. He also contributed to high profile School outreach, promoting local work to the Health minister. Niall’s involvement, pro-activity and positive collegial attitude make him a deserving winner of this award."

Dr Patrick Stark (Support award)

School of Nursing and Midwifery

"It is my pleasure to nominate Dr Patrick Stark, a Research Fellow at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, for the Support award.  In my capacity as programme lead for the year one nursing undergraduate curriculum, I have never worked with a post-doctoral researcher that has provided so much support for our students across both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.  In my opinion, he is a role model for the iCare Values.  Dr Stark is exceptionally focused on the student experience where he has worked collaboratively within teams to support his students.  His impact on students is well evidenced by his excellent teaching evaluations and thoughtful student feedback.  Patrick is a module coordinator, tutorial lead, master’s supervisor, PhD supervisor, post-doc mentor, Associate Fellowship for Higher Education reviewer and holds an active Fellowship with the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).  He has gone significantly beyond his role and is certainly a worthy recipient of this award because, quite simply, he makes university life better for students and staff.  This claim is confirmed by this nomination that also reflects the views of 27 undergraduate nursing students Patrick has taught and who are listed above."

Highly commended 2022

Commendations were made by the judging panel for categories with higher numbers of nominations.

Dr Ethna McFerran (Research award)

Patrick G. Johnston Centre for Cancer Research

"This postdoc has been outstanding in the last two and half years I have known them, and this last year they have most certainly “gone the extra mile” with their research. Their contribution to the PhD student I supervise has been invaluable. They initiated links across two research groups at QUB but also across sectors. This post-doc linked the Mathematical Sciences Research Centre and the Patrick J Johnson Centre for Cancer Research with the Public Health Agency. This resulted in a strategic PhD student being funded. As an assistant supervisor for this PhD, they are aiding the build of a novel cost-effectiveness model which will hugely benefit the Health Service and the citizens of Northern Ireland. This post-doc has been instrumental in linking this research with those within the current research team, but also clinicians, data managers and other stakeholders to ensure the best research model is created and the most relevant outputs for highest impact."

Dr Thomas Thompson (Research award)

School of Pharmacy

"I am delighted to nominate Dr Thomas Thompson for the postdoctoral research award. Within our lab group, Thomas has continually provided outstanding research leadership, his work ethic and enthusiasm to support the development of other scientists in the group is exemplary and sets an example to the entire team, inspiring, informing, and supporting ongoing research in the team. Within his field, Thomas exhibits scientific excellence, leadership and an ability to work at the interface of several disciplines. Thomas is an excellent ambassador for the lab group, the School of Pharmacy and the University, and I believe a very worthy recipient of this prestigious recognition. In the past year, his research outputs have been outstanding, and in addition to submitting a number of high impact papers, he has been invited to speak at several prominent meetings and symposia in the field of alternatives to antibiotics (including the invitation-only Rank Prize Symposium) and non-thermal plasmas/plasma medicine. Recently, Thomas has also co-invented a novel method for introducing plasmids into bacterial cells, which we anticipate patenting in the coming year. Thomas has proactively sought competitive funding to support development of independent ideas (e.g., an SfAM vacation scholarship grant is supporting an undergraduate researcher investigating antibiotic production by extremophilic microbes) and to attend scientific meetings, broadening his research networks, resulting in excellent, international collaborations. Thomas is central to the success of several important scientific collaborations including the  US-Ireland-NI NIH Tripartite award examining the potential of cold plasmas for treatment of orthopaedic infections, but also cold plasma-industry grants aimed at controlling microbial contaminants in the food chain."

Dr Lisa Douglas (Research award)

School of Pharmacy

"Dr Lisa Douglas, School of Pharmacy, QUB is an excellent researcher who has made a significant contribution to respiratory research at Queen’s University Belfast. Effective project management and outstanding productivity, coupled with a commitment to innovate and bring new techniques and models into the lab, has greatly expanded our research capacity and raised further the international reputation of the group. Direct benefits have included our ability to sustain funding support from US pharma (>£472K), of which she is co-I on over £250K, and engage a new SME partner leading to ~£3.74M in new funding applications. Her exceptional contribution to the industry collaboration is also demonstrated in the laboratory management of a CAST studentship (with BP) for which she is acknowledged as third supervisor. Her research integrity and robustness of approach has in particular, delivered work of the highest quality as evidenced by a high impact, first author publication in Cell Chemical Biology (16th June 2022) which reported a novel, highly selective furin inhibitor as a new treatment approach for cystic fibrosis. As an indicator of esteem the paper, in collaboration with GSK and Boston Pharmaceuticals (BP), secured both an editorial as well as the issue’s front cover image."

Dr Lalitkumar Vora (Support award)

School of Pharmacy

"Lalit is an outstanding and the most supportive postdoc I have ever come across. He actively supports the day-to-day group and lab management activities involving ordering the chemicals/equipment, solving the research problems and managing the animal studies for PhDs/sponsor projects in my group. Currently, Lalit is helping more than 20 PhDs students in my group and other groups within the School in their research projects. His long-term research experience, problem-solving skills, and resourcefulness help my PhDs students not only to complete PhD within three years but also to imbibe those skills for their further research careers. I have always seen him with PhD students discussing their research work. Many of Lalit’s original research ideas turn into PhD projects. He was in the Assistant Supervisor role for two PhDs until the end of 2021. His contribution to the sponsor projects is also outstanding, demonstrating his exceptional productivity. His central postdoc role is to handle US government (USAID and NIH) funded (> $10 million) projects that recently transferred to industrial scale-up. He delivered all the assigned sponsor work on time with the highest standard. With other team members in his project team, he is also currently supporting four industry-funded projects. His research support for running the pre-clinical animal studies for sponsor projects, postdocs, and final year PhDs has been remarkable. This support allowed us to fulfill the funding requirements and submit PhD theses on time. This summer, four of my PhDs graduated with Lalit’s pre-clinical work support. In addition to his sponsored research work, his continuous support to PhD students led the team to submit more than 50 conference proceedings till now. His unwavering support for students and sponsor projects is reflected in the 40 publications he co-authored in the last 18 months, and more than 30 manuscripts are under preparation/consideration. Last but not least, he helped and mentored more than 6 international visiting scholars in my group in the last 3 years. Currently, he directly supports two visiting scholars in my group (mentoring, problem solving, research guidance, and work planning). He regularly reaches out to the different international research labs to bring new collaborations and visitors to the School. He always remained the point of contact whenever someone wanted to apply for visiting scholarship in my group. He also facilitated many postgraduate admission for international students to the School. Lalit fosters many international collaborations that strongly enhance the School of Pharmacy and QUB's reputation. Surely, recognising the support of a talented postdoc like him will boost his confidence to work towards the goal of further enhancing his own career development and highlighting the excellence of QUB's work internationally."

All nominees 2022

Research award

Arun Mahesh (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine)

David Waite (School of Pharmacy)

Ethna McFerran (Patrick G. Johnston Centre for Cancer Research)

Karla O'Neill (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine) - nominated by 3 individuals

Lalitkumar Vora (School of Pharmacy)

Lisa Douglas (School of Pharmacy)

Muhammad Faris Adrianto (School of Pharmacy)

Parisa Naeli (Patrick G. Johnston Centre for Cancer Research)

Ruoyu Wang (Centre for Public Health)

Simon Haughey (School of Biological Sciences)

Thomas Thompson (School of Pharmacy) - nominated by 3 individuals

Support award

Charlotte Zoe Angel (Patrick G. Johnston Centre for Cancer Research) - nominated by 4 individuals

Christopher McFarland (School of Biological Sciences) - nominated by 3 individuals

Emily Robb (School of Biological Sciences)

Enya Scanlon (Patrick G. Johnston Centre for Cancer Research) - nominated by 3 individuals

Freda McCormick (School of Nursing and Midwifery) - nominated by 2 individuals

Haydee Jordao (Centre for Public Health) - nominated by 2 individuals

Julia Monjaras Feria (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine)

Katie Kerr (Centre for Public Health)

Lalitkumar Vora (School of Pharmacy) - nominated by 19 individuals

Niall Byrne (School of Pharmacy)

Parisa Naeli (Patrick G. Johnston Centre for Cancer Research)

Patrick Stark (School of Nursing and Midwifery) - nominated by 30 individuals

Sarah Baxter (Centre for Public Health)

Seamus O'Brien (School of Pharmacy) - nominated by 6 individuals

Sreekanth Pentlavalli (School of Pharmacy) - nominated by 4 individuals

Thomas Thompson (School of Pharmacy) - nominated by 7 individuals

Citizenship and Outreach award

Niall Byrne (School of Pharmacy) - nominated by 2 individuals

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