The University of Nottingham, in conjunction with fellow research intensive universities across the Midlands, has celebrated the work of the technicians who underpin university life with the inaugural 2015 Higher Education Technicians’ Summit.
The Summit recognised the achievements of technicians — the ‘unsung heroes’ of UK higher education — and was held in association with the research and innovation collaboration of the six leading Midlands universities and the Science Council.
Kelly Vere, Conference Chair, said: “The Summit is the first of its kind — celebrating the achievements, skills and expertise of university technical staff. We are thrilled to have attracted inspirational speakers and the support of a number of learned societies and organisations, all of whom are fully committed to the professional recognition of technicians in higher education and beyond.’
Individual technicians who have shown excellence were awarded inaugural Papin Prizes.
Victoria Wilson, University of Nottingham, was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions as a laboratory technician. Victoria has worked with Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys and made a pivotal contribution in the discovery of the technique now known as DNA fingerprinting.
Sir Alec, University of Leicester, said: “Vicky was a technician with me throughout the 1980s, and not only did a fantastic job in keeping the very complicated show that was my laboratory on the road, but also contributed enormously to our research initially on gene evolution and then into and beyond the work that lead to the first DNA fingerprint.”
Victoria was not the only University of Nottingham technician to win a Papin Prize, with awards success also going to Lisa Storer for Contribution to Research, Mike Beard for Facility and Equipment Management and Val Street for Working with Business. Special Awards were also presented to Aziza Alibhai and Neil Barnes for Community and Outreach respectively.
The consortium attracted over 400 guests, who heard from high-profile keynote speakers including:
· Dr Helen Sharman OBE — first Briton in space, now Technical Manager at Kingston University
· Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya KT CBE FREng FRS — Professor of Manufacturing and Chairman of the Warwick Manufacturing Group, University of Warwick, Trustee of the Institute for Public Policy Research
· Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor, University of Nottingham
Dr Sharman said: “Technicians are usually the unsung heroes and heroines of university life. More than just enabling practical laboratory classes and research, technicians are the glue without which huge chunks of university life would fall apart. Properly recognising technical skills and ensuring full developmental support will ensure universities benefit fully from this wealth of resource”.