10 May, 2011

Every year the Laws Prize Committee, chaired by Professor John Croxall CBE FRS, tries to select the most outstanding young scientist at the British Antarctic Survey. This year the choice was especially difficult and the Committee eventually decided, for only the second time, to award two prizes.

Dr Huw Griffiths, a marine biologist from the University of Liverpool, joined BAS in 2000 to develop a new database on Antarctic marine biodiversity, working part time. SOMBASE, as it became know, grew rapidly and Huw soon became a full time employee, publishing on the database and developing its potential by linking it to ArcGIS so that the biological and environmental data could be overlayed. Since then he has made SOMBASE available on line, linked it to SCAR-MarBIN and CAML and developed an innovative range of visualisation tools. He has produced a portfolio of 25 papers, six of them as first author, in a wide range of journals.
Read Huw’s online profile

Dr James Smith published his first paper on his MSc work on the provenance of Antarctic dust before completing his PhD at Durham University. Joining BAS as a marine sedimentologist he has shown himself to be remarkably versatile, working both from the ship and on land and has rapidly learnt a range of new skills to help with dating both marine sediments and rock outcrops. His interdisciplinary and flexible approach is just what the new science programmes in BAS need and with 20 papers published in leading journals, six of them as first author.
Read James’ online profile

About the Laws Prize

On the retirement of Dr R M Laws CBE FRS as Director of the British Antarctic Survey in May 1987, a fund was established for a Prize to be awarded annually in his name. In view of Dr Laws’ major contribution to scientific knowledge, it was decided that the Prize should be awarded to outstanding young scientists of the British Antarctic Survey in recognition of their achievements, whilst fulfilling the primary purpose of the British Antarctic Survey.

The composition of the Committee is:

  • Professor John Croxall CBE FRS, Chair
  • Professor N J P Owens, Director of BAS
  • Dr T R Allen, Chairman of the BAS Club
  • Professor D W H Walton, Secretary

The Committee is empowered to co-opt consultants, with expertise relevant to the fields of the candidates nominated in a given year.

The Prize will be awarded to young scientists of the British Antarctic Survey for scientific work which is worthy of recognition in the field of polar research. The nominee must be under 35 years of age on 28 February in the year of the original nomination (a note of the candidate’s date of birth should be included with any submission). Work submitted in support of the nomination must have been accepted for publication (but not necessarily published) before the closing date for nomination. In cases where the eligibility of a candidate may be uncertain the nomination will be at the discretion of the Committee. The Prize will not necessarily be awarded each year if candidates of sufficient calibre are not nominated. Exceptionally, more than one Prize may be awarded per year.