Two Leeds technicians shortlisted for prestigious Papin Prize

Two technicians from the University of Leeds have been shortlisted for the UK’s leading awards ceremony in their field. 

Tony Wiese, Lead Technician at the School of Mechanical Engineering, and Stuart Micklethwaite, an Electron Microscopy Support Technician for the School of Chemical and Process Engineering, join 60 hopefuls from across the country as they vie for a Papin Prize. 

The Papin Prize is the UK’s only award ceremony dedicated to celebrating technical excellence and innovation in higher education and research. This year, a record-breaking 357 individuals and teams were nominated for this year’s awards, which will be presented at the biannual Higher Education Technicians Summit (HETS) 2023 on July 4 at the University of Warwick. 

Tony Wiese is shortlisted for the Professor Lord Bhattacharyya Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises continued excellence and significant achievements across an individual’s technical career. Tony has 31 years’ service at the University, spending all but one of these as a highly valued member of the School of Mechanical Engineering.  

After 13 years in the industry, Tony started with the University in 1992, becoming a key member of the Mechanical Engineering team as a lab technician in the Strength of Materials Laboratory.  

His role has evolved in line with the dynamic environment and technological advancements within the School, and Tony now plays a major part in undergraduate programmes, through which he shares his experience, gives advice, and provides technical assistance to students as they to continue with their projects. 

He says: “An institution is nothing without people, and I feel truly privileged to have worked with many great colleagues over the years, and to be in an environment where you can interact daily with academics who are leading world-class research is just amazing. 

“To be nominated for a prestigious lifetime achievement award is a real honour and I’m absolutely delighted that my contribution to the School has been recognised in this way. Whether I’m successful on the day remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: this lifetime isn’t over yet!” 

Stuart Micklethwaite has been nominated in the Core Research Facility category, reserved for a member of technical staff within a central research facility or platform who has provided exceptional skills or expertise. Stuart joined the University on an apprentice technician scheme in 2008 at the age of 18 before becoming part of the Leeds Electron Microscopy and Spectroscopy (LEMAS) Centre in 2012. 

Stuart Micklethwaite sat at a computer operating a Helios G4 CX microscope

Stuart Micklethwaite, a Electron Microscopy Support Technician, is up for a Papin Prize.

As a key Research Technical Professional member of LEMAS, Stuart provides ongoing support to an ever-growing number of students, academics, and industrial customers using the facility. Each year, the LEMAS Centre runs 3,500 hours of work for 350 different users from 25 Leeds institutions, 25 external UK universities, and 20 external industrial companies, and will soon be housed within the state-of-the-art Sir William Henry Bragg Building

Nominating Stuart in a joint submission, Professor Rik Drummond-Brydson and LEMAS Facility Manager John Harrington said: “His professionalism and high level of expertise has markedly increased the impact and reputation of the microscopy facility and he deserves full recognition for his efforts and enthusiasm.  

“We are extremely fortunate to have such a member of staff within the University of Leeds, and he would be a very worthy winner of this award.” 

Stuart says: “I was very surprised to be nominated for the award,” he says. “It’s really nice to feel appreciated for the work that I do and the extra effort that I try and put in. I always try and go above and beyond for people when I can, and it feels great that people notice.” 

Dr Kelly Vere, Project Lead for MI TALENT said: “The Papin Prizes have fast become one of the most highly regarded awards for technicians in our sector, highlighted by the record-breaking number of nominations received this year, all of which were an incredibly high standard. 

“Many congratulations to all individuals and teams who have been nominated and thank you to the colleagues who nominated outstanding technicians and have helped to raise the profile and status of technicians within the sector.” 

Frances Burstow, Director for Talent and Skills at UKRI, said: “The Papin Prizes are the only awards wholly dedicated to celebrating the varied role of technicians and the valuable work they do to support teaching and research across all levels and disciplines. Marking the achievements and impact of this valuable community will help to create a more inclusive and dynamic research community.” 

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