Colleagues of the Year Awards


23 July 2019 10:49
LEC Colleagues of the Year 2019 (left to right) Alfonso Lag Brotons, Amanda Nicholson, Beccy Whittle, Steve Lane, Victoria Janes-Bassett and Philip Donkersley
LEC Colleagues of the Year 2019 (left to right) Alfonso Lag Brotons, Amanda Nicholson, Beccy Whittle, Steve Lane, Victoria Janes-Bassett and Philip Donkersley

It is the dedication and supportive attitude of its colleagues that makes a workplace a positive and productive place to be. Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) is no exception.

In 2018 the annual LEC Colleague of the Year awards were launched to celebrate the staff and PhD researchers whose contribution to the day-to-day life of the department make it what it is. These award winners are nominated by their peers and their cases are assessed by a staff panel from across the department.

This year the awards were announced by Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) Director Professor Phil Barker at the Summer Social.

Award Winners 2019

Alfonso Lag Brotons

For providing physical assistance, academic support and skills training to PhD students above and beyond that which is required of him, and he does it “gladly without hesitation”. On one notable fieldwork excursion, for example, “he was glad to share his lunch, water and money with the rest of us on the team that had not made provisions for the hunger and thirst since it was our first time.” The nomination cases states “his intelligence coupled with empathy makes him as asset to LEC.”

Amanda Nicholson

For providing a high level of finance support to staff, students and visitors in LEC, particularly understanding all financial procedures within the university and using her expertise to translate the complex rules a professional, calm and supportive way. She has been proactive in improving LEC financial procedures and providing invaluable assistance to the extremely difficult challenge of reducing our discretionary budget.

“She is the solid rock of everything finance in LEC! Because of her professional, diligent and responsible approach to our finances, the Management Group can focus on other activities such as teaching, research etc.“

Rebecca (Beccy) Whittle

For making a positive impact for many across the department, including examining the WLM, support given to others in their teaching/research, and her work organizing successful Atrium events with LEC/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology colleagues.

 “An outstanding colleague who has made a significant and positive impact for many across the department and who has a genuine desire to make the working environment a better place for everyone!”

Steve Lane

For the thorough, systematic and inclusive manner in which Steve has led undergraduate teaching over the last academic year. This has included seeks the views of others before making (sometimes) difficult decisions, his attention to detail in trying to get things right, whether this be for the individual, or the department as a whole, and his ability to do all of this in challenging and ever-changing circumstances.

“He is an excellent colleague to have at the helm – diligent, reliable, approachable and good humoured… Steve is one of the unsung heroes of the department; he just gets on with his job, which he does to a very high standard, but never seeks the glory for it.”

Victoria (Tori) Janes-Bassett and Philip Donkersley

 “In addition to their own heavy workload as Senior Research Associates, Tori and Philip continue to dedicate a great deal of voluntary time and effort ensuring LEC’s early career researchers are represented, supported and offered career development training.”

In response to needs identified by themselves and their colleagues, Tori and Philip have set up a network for early career researchers, reinvigorated and organised the researcher mentoring scheme, and improved the welcome that new early career researchers receive on arrival in the department. They work tirelessly to ensure that the voices of our early career researchers - members of staff who have limited job security, but without whom we would be unable to complete our research – are heard at all levels in the department and wider Faculty.


Also Nominated in 2019

Anna Woodhead: “She is always positive and helpful in any situation. She can cheer up and brighten a day whatever situation you are in.”

Geoff Holroyd: “…plays a critical role in ensuring that we have adequate and working resources for research across LEC… When you don’t know how to fix a problem, Geoff is always the one to ask!”

Phil Barker: “For his patient and dedicated supervisory support in current research project and kindness in personal matters and career development.”

Shane Rothwell: “His willingness to go above and beyond in his role… In all the previous employment roles I have had or university projects that I have worked on, I am yet to work with a colleague as willing to help me achieve my best.”

Teaching Technicians John Crosse, Marion Dunn & Ashley Taylor: “For their exemplary student support during dissertation field and lab-work.”

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Teaching Office staff Sue Fleet, Freda Macpherson, Julia Bland & Suzanne Stelling: “For their exemplary student counselling.”


Award Winners in 2018

Presentation of the LEC Colleagues of the Year awards 2018 (left to right) Jennie Gilbert, Nigel Clark, Yani Najman, Annette Ryan, Steve Lane, Sue Fleet and Julia Bland. Other award winners were not able to attend in person.

Steve Lane, Jennie Gilbert, Yani Najman, Jacqui Owen and Mike James

For taking on significant additional responsibilities at short notice following Dr Hugh Tuffen’s accident, without any prompting from management. This included taking on extra teaching, covering Director of Studies duties, supervising dissertation students, putting in place plans for next year to cover Hugh’s transition back to full time work, and managing expectations and the experience of MSc Volcanology & Geological Hazards students, many of whom had come to Lancaster specifically to work with Hugh.

Julia Bland and Sue Fleet

For support of teaching and student experience - in particular for the extensive work they do around student wellbeing and mental health – but also for the additional sharing of knowledge and mentoring offered to teaching staff.

Craig Jones

For his work to revitalise and unify the Political Ecology and Critical Geographies research groups including helping “new and visiting students and staff settle in and gets people from different disciplines and backgrounds talking to each other.” He is also a vocal and active member of the staff-student committee.

Annette Ryan

For her management of the Plant-Soil Interactions lab, and related training and support of research students and staff, especially the large number of PhD students. Also noted are her roles on safety and Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion provision in the department.

Nigel Clark

Primarily for his generous mentoring of junior staff, inspiration for others and contribution to intellectual leadership within the department.


Also nominated in 2018 were Alfonso Lag Brotons, Bitten Brigham, Christina Hicks and the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation team of Andy Pickard, Carolyn Hayes, Georgia Faloone, Vicky Lund and Jan Parkinson.

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