Changes to our Prize Lectures – listening to your feedback

26 March 2020

In November, when we announced the 2020 Prize Lectures, we received feedback from our members that the diversity of our winners over the years was not reflective of our membership or the microbiology community in general. As a result, we assembled a working group to review the way we welcome nominations and how we consider them, to ensure that we are doing all that we can to encourage as many members as possible to nominate microbiologists who they want to recognise, regardless of their background.

The working group recommended that we improve the clarity of our prize criteria, improve the way that we communicate them to the public, and increase the opportunities for our members to get involved in the process. We’re delighted to announce a series of changes to the way that our Prize Lectures work and hope that they will make nominating someone easier, and that they will increase the transparency of the way we judge and award our Prize Lectures.

We heard that our Prize Lecture web pages were intimidating, with little information about the process and some confusion about the expectations of our Prize Award Panel. We have reviewed our pages to make them more user friendly: members will now be able to find the relevant information easily, and if in any doubt, contact the office for help. As part of this, we are publishing criteria for all of our Prize Lectures and have also received permission from previous Prize winners and their nominators to publish example nomination forms. Our criteria haven’t changed but having them clearly visible on our website will help members see what we are looking for. We’ve increased transparency of the whole process by publishing it on the website too – including everything that happens after a nomination is submitted, including how it will be considered by the award panel.

We’d also like to make sure that our members know that we welcome nominations made by groups, so if several members wish to get together to make a nomination, we encourage this. We can also help members get in touch with other potential nominators, or the Member Directory could be used to find someone. We only ask that at least two members make a nomination.  

Finally, the biggest change to the process is that all Prize Lecture nominations will no longer be considered by a panel comprised solely of Council members. 2020 will be the first year that Prize nominations are considered by a panel of members, who put themselves forward to participate and will be chaired by the General Secretary. This will help us to have a bigger panel to consider our prizes, represent the diversity of the membership and give members the opportunity to gain experience of, and insight into the work of a panel.

With many thanks to the members of the Prize Review Working Group 2020: Mark Harris, Maggie Smith, Tracy Palmer, Elizabeth Ballou and Jamie Hall.

To find out more about our Prize Lectures, please visit our Prize Lecture pages.

Expressions of interest in participating in the 2020 Prize Award Panel are now open.