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MHLS nominees


Dr Tracey McConnell (Research award)

School of Nursing and Midwifery

"I nominate Tracey for the research excellence prize based on her outstanding achievements in research funding, scientific publishing, building collaborations, school outreach, PPI engagement, and leadership. Tracey leads her own programme of research, along with a portfolio of research at Marie Curie Belfast. Tracey is the first postdoc researcher in Northern Ireland to have secured a prestigious Marie Curie Senior Research Fellow post. She has worked hard to successfully develop this joint role with the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Tracey has established collaborations locally and internationally (America and South America). Sep 2020-August 2021 she published one first author and three co-authored papers in prestigious journals (including Palliative Medicine). She has secured £320,466.31 from competitive funders (NIHR) in this time period. Her research profile and esteem in realist research methods have been recognised through an invitation for Honorary Visiting Fellow at Bournemouth University in 2021 where she co-leads realist workshops for PhD students. Tracey is an extremely committed colleague who consistently delivers high quality research and outputs alongside her enthusiasm to build both her own and others professional development."

Dr Fiona Lavelle (Citizenship and outreach award)

School of Biological Sciences

"I am delighted to highly recommend Fiona for the Citizenship and Outreach award for the additional activities that she has conducted alongside her employed research projects. Over the past year, she has epitomised positive public engagement and outreach during a stressful time for all. For example, Fiona led a multidisciplinary international collaborative team to implement an impactful virtual cooking camp outreach project for over 250 families across the island of Ireland during lockdown. This project was received extremely positively and gratefully by all involved and additionally generated a high volume of interest across Twitter. She also led a virtual event for over 70 people for the ESRC Social Sciences Festival. 

Dr. Lavelle has also excelled in science communication for the general public through media engagement. She has had 3 articles for the Conversation published, resulting in 30,000 readers, and has had over 25 engagements with national and international media including radio interviews with Times radio and BBC Ulster. Additionally, she used social media to disseminate her additional research findings, including the use of engaging infographics and videos, which generated over 70,000 Twitter impressions. Fiona has also given a number of invited talks for non-academic audiences with a global reach."

Dr Fernanda Godoy Santos (Support award)

School of Biological Sciences

"The reason for nominating Fernanda for the exceptional support post-doc category is frankly that Fernanda’s support is exceptional. Fernanda supports all aspects of our lab in practical, theoretical, cultural & emotional terms with a positive outlook and constructive approach. Fernanda provides scientific advice on laboratory protocols, experimental design, and project outcomes for each of the seven PhD students alongside numerous undergraduate & masters students within our lab group. This is a huge achievement given that not only does Fernanda provide this support but also additionally completes work on her own research projects, supports our PI’s and maintains contact with students who are working externally from the university, including internationally. Fernanda has continued to support myself as a PhD student throughout the pandemic and despite all the practical challenges that have occurred consequently has remained proactive, organising software training sessions, journal clubs and ensuring that our practical laboratories have remained successfully operational throughout. Fernanda above all else is friendly has a positive, enthusiastic attitude in terms of communication, science, and emotional support to all of us as students and is immensely appreciated. I have really enjoyed working and learning from Fernanda within the school of biological sciences and look forward to continuing to do so in the future with the same enthusiasm that Fernanda epitomises."

Highly commended

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

Dr Ahlam Ali (Research award)

Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine

"At the start of the pandemic, Ahlam approached me with an idea for a project to find therapeutic drugs against COVID-19 disease. The idea germinated into the project that was submitted to the UKRI/NIHR COVID-19 Rapid Response call, with Ahlam as a named PDRA. We were 1 of only 6 projects across the UK selected for funding in this 1st round, with the task of screening large drug libraries for repurposing as antiviral and anti-inflammatories to treat COVID-19. The success with this 1st round of national funding led to much fanfare and publicity from the MRC and huge recognition for QUB. Ahlam’s ideas were expanded to a successful submission to the HSC NI R&D Division, on which she is a co-investigator. In total, her ideas/initiative have directly resulted in £503K funding income, added substantially to the national prestige of QUB virology research and provided the impetus to initiate our nationally and internationally recognised SARS-CoV-2 therapeutic research programme. The project has so far resulted in 1 patent submission and 3 publications in preparation. Furthermore, the success of our project resulted in an invitation from the MRC to submit a DPFS project application (total value = £1,58M @ 80% fEC), on which Ahlam is a named Researcher Co-Investigator."

Dr Fiona Lavelle (Research award)

School of Biological Sciences

"I would like to offer my wholehearted support for Fiona for the Research Excellence award. Fiona has consistently demonstrated excellence in every area of her research, becoming a leading expert in her field. Her Field-Weighted Citation Impact score is 3.01 which indicates for her field she has been cited 201% more than average (SciVal). Additionally, she has 7 articles in the top 10% most cited publications worldwide (SciVal), highlighting the great interest in her research. She has published 7 articles since September 2020, including 4 lead author publications, all in top quartile journals. She has 8 publications in the top 5% of research outputs ever scored by Altmetric including 3 of her lead author articles published since September 2020. Over the last year, Fiona has given a number of invited talks and has successfully secured funding to lead her research as well as being involved in developing other successful grant applications. Fiona has demonstrated the exceptional ability to develop international collaborations, in the past year she has developed new collaborations in the Republic of Ireland, the UK and Brazil. Fiona is an exceedingly dedicated researcher who perfectly embodies the passion, creativity and productivity required for research excellence, while also never failing to provide support to her colleagues. She would be an extremely worthy recipient of this prize."

Dr Karen Siu Ting (Research award)

School of Biological Sciences

"It is my pleasure to nominate Karen for the Research Excellence award. In spite of the many challenges brought on by the pandemic and working on a part-time basis due to parental care duties, Karen has co-authored 3 papers, and submitted 2 grant applications as lead applicant in the last academic year all while providing support for research activities and students in the group. Karen’s research calibre is evident from her 24 peer reviewed publications to date, totalling over 400 citations and past grant successes such as from the EU Marie Curie cofund. Most recently she successfully obtained a British Ecological Society Policy Fellowship with DAERA which enabled her to explore how her research could inform policy. During this fellowship Karen contributed to the recent Northern Ireland Green Growth and Environment strategies, and presented her work as part of this fellowship at the Natural Capital Chief Scientist Group for the UK in June 2021. Her work has given her national and international recognition allowing her to expand her network across other research and governmental institutions in the UK and Northern Ireland and providing novel opportunities for future research programmes in this area."

Dr Malcolm Brown (Research award)

School of Nursing and Midwifery

"I would like to nominate Malcolm Brown for this research excellence award, based on his achievements this academic year.  He has demonstrated excellence in scientific publishing, research funding and building collaborations.  Malcolm has led four clinical trials, during the recent pandemic, showing enthusiasm and initiative, to ensure continued recruitment and trial delivery.  He also established a collaboration with Macmillan Cancer Support, to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on key supportive care services, as well as contributing to other ongoing projects within the School.  Between Aug 2020 and July 2021, he has published one first-author manuscript, co-authored 4 others and submitted work to the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer annual meeting.  Malcolm has also submitted grant applications and is a co-investigator on a successful Pancreatic Cancer UK Research Innovation Fund award.  His profile as a researcher has been recognised internationally and he has been invited to join a European collaboration, conducting research in nutrition, exercise and cancer.  These partnerships have been instrumental in raising the profile of our ongoing and expanding research portfolio."

Dr Claire Tonry (Citizenship and outreach award)

Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine

"Claire is the perfect embodiment of collegiality in a postdoc. As a member of the WWIEM postdoc committee, she plays an active role in promoting and organising events benefitting the career development of her peers. This year, she notably led the organisation of the WWIEM annual postdoc career away day, the WWIEM annual postdoc symposium, and interviewed six former PHDs/postdocs as part of a Faculty initiative to showcase career options. She provided important insight that helped shaping this Faculty monthly Career Exploration Interview series, highly contributing to its success. The events she organised are always well-attended and receive great feedback. Claire is keen to volunteer and contribute to the life of her centre and notably took part in panel discussions for PhD students, helped shape and deliver the undergraduate summer programme and also chaired a session at the School’s postgraduate symposium. Claire also took part in public engagement for the NI Science Festival, and engages with citizenship outside of Queen’s. This includes conference organisation with the British Society for Cardiovascular Research as well as reviewing papers and grant application in her field. Claire’s positive approach to citizenship and outreach is outstanding and well-deserving of this prize."

Dr Alice Cross (Support award)

School of Pharmacy

"I am nominating Alice for the Postdoc prize as she is a key contributing member to  our research group and a dedicated postdoc that wears multiple hats to get things done in several areas. It has been five months since Alice joined this research group but her efforts to set-up the lab are getting recognised at school level. She is exceptionally organised, efficient and hard-working person and is very supportive towards the people  working around her. She goes well above and beyond our expectations to provide support in every possible manner she can. Whether it would be ordering items for other team members, organising lab equipment, helping them with their research projects, training them for different programs and experiments or arranging urgent supplies of items, she gets it all done very smoothly. Her exceptional communication skills have helped to foster better relationships with other groups across the faculty of MHLS as well as with the external suppliers to generate resources for the group. She is unfailingly cheerful and tries her best to maintain a positive work environment for the mental wellbeing of everyone around her. I believe her exceptional support and contributions should get recognised in the form of a Postdoc prize."

Dr Emily Robb (Support award)

School of Biological Sciences

"Although Emily excels across the prize categories, it’s in ‘Support’ that her contributions most exceed expectation.  Whilst student training is common for postdocs, Emily embraces this with immense enthusiasm and over the last year has supported multiple project students (3xBSc; 2xMSci; 2xMSc), including those working for a remote, fractional appointee.  Emily developed and manages a rota system (still in operation) to enable access under covid restrictions for shared labs (4x PIs).  Her support extends across: safety training and risk assessments; lab skills training; computer based training in bioinformatics; project design and write up; guiding student presentations at conferences, and; pastoral support.  For the shared labs she coordinates: safety reporting; ordering, and; engagement with suppliers and major funders, including industry.  What is outstanding is the quality and diversity of the support provided, the willingness to help unprompted and the efficiency that pervades the lab systems and processes, despite the challenges posed by Covid19 for busy, multi-group laboratories. Emily delivers teaching to large UG classes (~90 students) and to MSc students through both lectures and practicals (she designed).  In addition, my Faculty role means I am intermittently unable to deliver on teaching commitments – Emily covers these at short notice and w/o hesitation."

Dr Lalitkumar Vora (Support award)

School of Pharmacy

"Dr. Lalit is an important member of the drug delivery group within the School of Pharmacy. Although, I am not his direct line manager, he has extended his support to some of my students in their ocular drug delivery projects. This involved their day to day research work, experimental design and publications. He has always been readily available to discuss different drug delivery ideas with my PhD students. He is acting as assistant supervisory role for one of my PhD student. He is also assisting the PhD students in writing/reviewing research articles and reviews. He has provided significant support in addressing reviewers queries for several of our publications with at least 2 papers already published, 3 papers submitted following revision and 3 are due to be submitted later this month – all these articles are submitted to high impact journals.  Additionally, he regularly advises/trains PhD students, including work/life balance and mental well-being of the students and project management. He is also taking some of the teaching assignments for master students. He brings great energy in what he does, which is outstanding considering he also manages several other students in transdermal drug delivery research group. Overall, Lalit has been an excellent and prolific researcher supporting several projects both within his own group and my group. He is not only helping students in their research but also training them to become an independent researcher, which is critical for a successful career of the PhD students."

Dr Maja Ilic (Support award)

School of Biological Sciences

"Maja has been an invaluable member of the Ecosystem Biology and Sustainability (EBS) Research Cluster within the School of Biological Sciences. She has provided support and mentorship to students and postdocs alike during her time at Queen’s. Her enthusiasm for communicating knowledge has extended well beyond EBS into other areas of the School contributing significantly to the research culture. Maja has generously given much of her free time to instructing on data visualisation and data analysis, and has created a series of workshops and instructional videos on the use of R, with many of these resources still available for use by future QUB students. She actively participates in all postgraduate activities, including the PEER Club (a peer mentored learning initiative within the school) activities, e.g. journal club, workshops, coffee mornings and social events. As well as this practical support, she is also very generous with her time, often offering emotional support to students, and encouraging students to reach their full potential. Her work ethic and love for research culture has provided all new students in the School with a much needed contact for advice and support, and for this and many other reasons, she greatly deserves this nomination."

All nominees

Research award

Ahlam Ali (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine)
Andrea Lees (Patrick G. Johnston Centre for Cancer Research)
Fiona Lavelle (School of Biological Sciences)
Juan Dominguez-Robles (School of Pharmacy) - 2 nominations
Karen Siu Ting (School of Biological Sciences)
Kate Hayes (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine)
Laura Gritti (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine)
Malcolm Brown (School of Nursing and Midwifery)
Maria Llorian Salvador (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine)
Recivall Salongcay (Centre for Public Health)
Sean O'Connor (Centre for Public Health)
Thomas Thompson (School of Pharmacy)
Tracey McConnell (School of Nursing and Midwifery)
Xiaobei Pan (School of Biological Sciences)

Support award

Alice Cross (School of Pharmacy) - 3 nominations
Amy Dumigan (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine)
Claire Carswell (School of Nursing and Midwifery)
Emily Robb (School of Biological Sciences) - 2 nominations
Fernanda Godoy Santos (School of Biological Sciences) - 4 nominations
Joana Sa Pessoa (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine) - 2 nominations
Johnatas Silva (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine)
Josy Augustine (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine) - 6 nominations
Lalitkumar Vora (School of Pharmacy) - 10 nominations
Maja Ilic (School of Biological Sciences) - 3 nominations
Maria Llorian-Salvador (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine) - 3 nominations
Michelle Spence (School of Biological Sciences)
Mohammad Dadashipour (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine / School of Biological Sciences)
Niall Byrne (School of Pharmacy)
Olivier Touzelet (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine)
Qing Wen (Centre for Public Health)
Ricardo Calderon Gonzalez (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine)
Sarah Brennan (Centre for Public Health)
Sreekanth Pentlavalli (School of Pharmacy) - 4 nominations
Stephanie Craig (Patrick G. Johnston Centre for Cancer Research)
Suha Dadou (School of Pharmacy)
Therese Kearney (Centre for Public Health)
Thomas Thompson (School of Pharmacy)
Valentyn Mohylyuk (School of Pharmacy)
Victoria Cairnduff (Centre for Public Health) - 2 nominations
Xiaobei Pan (School of Biological Sciences) - 4 nominations

Citizenship and Outreach award

Claire Tonry (Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine)
Fiona Lavelle (School of Biological Sciences)
Maeve Palmer (School of Biological Sciences)
Mary Baxter (School of Biological Sciences)
Niamh O'Kane (School of Biological Sciences)
Patrick Stark (School of Nursing and Midwifery)

Back to PDC Postdoc awards:
Postdoc Prizes