The annual Nature Awards for Mentoring in Science took centre stage at the Quirinal Palace yesterday in Rome as the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, presented the awards to this year’s three winning scientists.
More than 60 members of the academic and scientific community attended the prestigious awards ceremony. This year Nature recognised outstanding scientific mentorship in Italy. Neurobiologist Michela Matteoli (University of Milan) received the mid-career award and €10,000 prize. Chemist Vincenzo Balzani (University of Bologna) and physicist Giorgio Parisi (University of Rome I, La Sapienza) were jointly presented with the lifetime achievement award and €5,000 each.
Editor-in-Chief of Nature, Dr Philip Campbell, opened the ceremony proceedings praising the three winners for their contributions and defining the values of a good mentor.
He said: “Since 2005, Nature has awarded a prize for scientific mentoring in a variety of countries. Over the years it has become clear that there are some key characteristics of laboratory heads that bode particularly well for younger scientists under their leadership.
Outstanding mentors tend to have an outstanding command of their research field. They are highly accessible to the members of their lab. They can relate to individuals in a way that is specific to each person’s particular characteristics. And they know how to balance support on the one hand and, on the other, the nurturing of independent creativity, problem-solving, integrity and initiative. This year’s winners are no exception.”
There were further heartfelt speeches from the chair of the judges for 2013 awards, Professor Luciano Maiani, and each of the three winners before the President of the Italian Republic addressed the attendees.
Each of the three winners has fascinating stories and received glowing tributes and testimonials from former mentees.
Giorgio Parisi is known for his contributions to theoretical physics and his research on disordered systems, including the development of a systematic theory for spin glasses and glass transition. Currently professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Rome I, La Sapienza, Parisi has inspired up-and-coming physicists for more than 40 years
Michela Matteoli is an internationally respected neuroscientist and a Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Milan. She started her own research laboratory at the CNR Institute of Neuroscience in 1992 and has since taught researchers from across the globe.
Vincenzo Balzani has been described by many as a pioneer working in photochemistry and photo physics, and is one of the world’s most cited chemists. He graduated from the University of Bologna in 1960 and went on to teach Chemistry there for more than 30 years between 1973 and 2011. He has been an Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of Bologna since 2011.
Dr Campbell summarised: “In an era when laboratories are under great pressure to be competitive, it is essential that they maintain the technical robustness and ethical integrity of their science, while also empowering creativity. Thus the mentoring of young researchers has never been more important. And good mentoring by laboratory heads is not a skill that can be taken for granted. That’s why I am so delighted this year to celebrate outstanding mentoring within an illustrious scientific culture: that of Italy.”
This year’s awards have featured widely across national and regional media in Italy, including IlSole24ORE, Il Mondo, Le Scienze, La Repubblica Bologna, Bologna Today, AGI, Il Velino, Forli Today, Il Gorno, Sassuolo, Forli24Ore, Contro Campus, Agenzia Parlamentare, Unibo Magazine, Uni Roma, Il Resto del Carlino, News IT 24, Il Sole24 Ore Sanita, Associazione Lucacoscioni, Yahoo Italia, UNIMI, ADNKronos, ASCA, Scienza in Rete, Aula Scienze, Pianeta Universitario, RadioScienza, Humanitas, Famiglie Della Visitazione, IFN, La Repubblica, Wired Italy, Le Scienze, ANSA, Scienza in Rete, Contro Campus, Knowledge Speak, Gaia News
More information on each of the winners and the awards are available here: http://www.nature.com/nature/awards/mentorship/
Launched in 2005, the global awards celebrate scientific mentors in a specific country or countries each year. The 2013 awards focused on Italy and in previous years on Canada, Germany, Japan, the Nordic countries, South Africa and the UK.