Brian Wilkins Prize

Brian Wilkins Memorial Prize

The winner of the 2016 Prize was Lina Thoma of the University of Tuebingen, Germany.

We are not yet sure if the Prize will be offered again in 2018 but details will be posted closer to the next meeting of the Society.

Details of the application process are described under point 7 below.  Queries should be sent electronically to c.m.thomas@bham.ac.uk.

1. The Brian Wilkins Memorial Fund has been set up by private individuals to honour the memory of Brian M. Wilkins formerly of the University of Leicester.
2. The purpose of the fund is to provide a Prize to be awarded to an outstanding young scientist with a commitment to studying mobile genetic elements, horizontal gene transfer or properties linked to these topics. This could include, for example, recombination or the study of protein secretion systems that provide an understanding of how the conjugative transfer apparatus works. Although Brian Wilkins was linked to the “Plasmid” community there is no need for the work to be specifically linked to Plasmids since other elements such as conjugative transposons could also be included.
3. The prize will be awarded to a scientist just starting their career either as a PhD student, a Post doc, or embarking on their first permanent job. It is expected that the work on which the award will be based should have been carried out during postgraduate studies or the first three years of laboratory work following award of their PhD. The Trustees will have the power to interpret this rule flexibly so long as the spirit of the award is to recognise a scientist near the start of their career. Account may be taken of career breaks for parenthood or other substantive reasons as appropriate.
4. The Prize will be awarded to a scientist who displays a number of qualities that were regarded as characteristic of Brian Wilkins. Of key importance are:

  1. a topic that is judged as significant by the Trustees and the panel who assess their presentations;
  2. enthusiasm for and competence in the literature of their research area;
  3. clever and innovative experimental design that is that the work performed is not just data generation but involves sophisticated exploration of background knowledge and logical dissection of the problem being studied;
  4. clear and enthusiastic communication of their work.
5. The Prize will normally be awarded biennially, provisionally in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 at the Plasmid Biology conferences that are projected for these years. If for any reason the regularity or the name of these conferences changes then the Trustees will have the power to make appropriate arrangements to allow the prize to be awarded at a different conference.
6. It will normally be expected that those nominated for the Prize will be planning to attend the Plasmid Biology Conference scheduled for that year at which the prize will be awarded. It is not the intention for the prize to be used to cover the cost of attending the meeting.
7. Individuals can apply for the Prize themselves or they can be nominated by someone else. For the application to be considered the Trustees will need to receive: an Abstract covering the work that they would present at the conference; a curriculum vitae of the applicant, including an outline of their career progression; copies of each of the papers on which the case for the award is being made; supporting statements from three referees; and a covering letter from the applicant or the person who nominates the applicant explaining how the individual fulfils the criteria for the Prize. Where the papers to be considered are multi-authored appropriate referees (for example the senior scientist in whose laboratory the work was carried out) will be asked to indicate the proportion of the work that was directly attributable to the applicant.
8. The applications will be considered by the Trustees and a shortlist of no more than five candidates will be drawn up. All of these applicants will be asked to present talks at the Plasmid Biology Conference.
9. A panel consisting of at least two of the Trustees supplemented by additional senior scientists will listen to all the talks at the Plasmid Biology Conference and one person will be chosen as the winner. The prize will be awarded at the end of the conference.
10. The Prize will consist of approximately one fifth of the total sum in the Fund at the start of this project. On the current pledges it is expected that the Prize will be in the region of 1000 US Dollars. It may be increased in future if more funds become available. The Trustees will explore the possibility of additional smaller prizes for short-listed applicants.
11. The Winner of the prize will be expected to spend the prize money in such a way as to support their scientific career. The winner will be allowed to use their discretion in the way that this is used. However, in order to publicise the award, the Winner will normally be expected to provide a brief report on how the money was used so that there is a record of how the money has benefited the individual.
12. The founding Trustees were:

  • William J. Brammar (University of Leicester)
  • Stephen K. Farrand (University of Illinois)
  • Christopher D. Thomas (University of Leeds)
  • Christopher M. Thomas (University of Birmingham) (Chairperson)
  • Susan E. Wilkins
  • Ellen L. Zechner (University of Graz)

29th January 2004