University of Dundee

School Prizes Awarded at SLS Research Symposium

16 Mar 2017

The School of Life Sciences Prizes were presented today at the Research Symposium in Crieff. Each of the judging panels commented on the high standard and quality of the entries submitted which exemplifies the research excellence and outstanding public engagement taking place in the School.

Innovator of the Year was awarded to Dr Satpal Virdee from MRC-PPU for innovation in the development and patent of a new “activity-based probe” presented in his Nature Chemical Biology manuscript ‘Probes of ubiquitin E3 ligases enable systematic dissection of parkin activation’. The judging panel consisting of Professor Irwin McLean, Professor Philip Cohen and Dr Fiona Mitchell from Research and Innovation Services, unanimously chose Satpal as the ‘technology is truly innovative in that it represents the creation of a new technology that hitherto did not exist, rather than application of existing technologies.’

The Howard Elder Prize was awarded to Dr Ruzica Bago from MRC-PPU for work presented in the EMBO Journal manuscript ‘The hVps34-SGK3 pathway alleviates sustained PI3K/Akt inhibition by stimulating mTORC1 and tumour growth’. The award is for a postgraduate student or postdoctoral researcher deemed to have published the most significant paper in an area related to cancer research. It was introduced by Dr Elders daughter who said her father always spoke very highly of his time at Dundee, where he studied medicine, and the opportunities it gave him. The panel, consisting of researchers based in the Division of Cancer at the School of Medicine (Professor Kevin Hiom, Professor Albena Dinkova-Kostova and Dr Adrian Saurin), believe that 'Dr Bago’s work provides a great example of how detailed understanding of basic biology can be employed for the improvement of human health'.

The Molecular and Cellular Biology Prize was awarded to Dr Federico Pelisch from GRE for his discovery of novel sumoylation-dependent mechanisms for chromosome regulation in meiosis. Some of this work was published in the Molecular Cell manuscript ‘A SUMO-Dependent Protein Network Regulates Chromosome Congression during Oocyte Meisosis’. This award is for a postgraduate student or postdoctoral researcher to recognise excellence in basic research within molecular and cellular biology. The judging panel, Professor Kees Weijer, Professor Tomo Takana and Professor Jenny Woof, commented that Federico ‘elegantly combined sophisticated approaches in cell biology, molecular genetics and biochemistry.’ The panel highlighted two other researchers, Yosua Kristariyanto from MRC-PPU and Dr Yijin Liu from the Lilley lab. Yosua was awarded second place for his research that has provided insights and understanding into how different types of polyubiquitin chains function as distinct signals while Yijin was awarded third place for solving the structures of the eukaryotic Holliday junction resolving enzyme GEN1, and of two new ribozymes.

The Brian Cox Prize Excellence in Public Engagement with Research Engaged Researcher of the Year was awarded to Dr David Foley from the DDU. Valerie Bentivegna and Rolf Black were highly commended. Project of the Year was awarded to Outer Space I Inner Space with Symbiosis and LifeSpace Science Art Research Gallery being highly commended. David has been a highly active individual in public engagement since coming to Dundee. To name just a few areas that he has participated in include heading up the DDU Communications Team, developing and running demonstration shows “Around the world of Drug Discovery in 5 experiments” & Chemistry Capers” at numerous events across the local area including in schools, local community centres & Dundee Science Centre. Outer Space I Inner Space is an interdisciplinary project between GRE, Computing and Leisure & Culture Dundee aimed at ensuring accessibility for all. Recent installations include Ways of Vision, A Very Fishy Tale, Near and Far and The Giant Worm.

Valerie Bentivegna has been involved in many outreach activities which she is very passionate about. Projects Valerie has been involved in include Outer Space I Inner Space, Look Near and Far events, led Lego Challenger: Build a Microscope workshops and Bright Club. Rolf Black is project lead for Outer Space I Inner Space interdisciplinary collaboration at the Mills Observatory.

Symbiosis led by Rhoda Ellis, Dr Angela Mehlert and Dr Suzanne Duce is an interdisciplinary project between DJCAD art students & SLS scientists. Projects included a Sci*Art exhibition at the Tin roof gallery (inc Knitted Chromosomes), The Giant Cell Build in WiSF 2016 and various activities at Doors Open Days, Plant Power Day, Magnificent Microbes. LifeSpace Science Art Research Gallery is led by Dr Sarah Cook (curator), Dr Morag Martin, Matthew Jarron, Andrew Dodds and Cicely Farrer. LifeSpace fosters interdisciplinary collaborations between artists and scientists. Exhibitions include objects selected by the artist(s) from the University Museum Collections.