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Image of Individual headshot photos of Hamish Symington and Laura Taylor
Hamish Symington and Laura Taylor

Students highly commended in Cambridge awards

Two of our Plant Science postgraduate students, Laura Taylor and Hamish Symington, have been highly commended in this year’s Cambridge Outstanding Student Contribution to Education Awards.

Run by the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning, the awards recognise exceptional contributions students have made towards enhancing educational practices across the University.

The duo have been recognised in the Peer Support category for their work leading a student committee to organise a new symposium for the Cambridge Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). Feedback from student attendees was overwhelmingly positive. The award citation states: “Huge credit is due to the entire student organising committee, but especially to Hamish and Laura who played critical roles in the success of this initiative. [Their] contributions went well beyond anything that is routinely expected of student representatives.”

Huge credit is due to the entire student organising committee, but especially to Hamish and Laura who played critical roles in the success of this initiative. [Their] contributions went well beyond anything that is routinely expected of student representatives.”

Spanning departments and institutes across the biological sciences, the event featured talks by students and a range of prominent speakers. As a mandatory internship forms a critical part of the DTP, preparing students for a range of bioscience-related careers, Laura arranged an interactive session for students to meet representatives of 26 external organisations that provide internship opportunities.

Hamish says: “I really enjoyed setting up the first BBSRC DTP Symposium here at Cambridge with Laura and our student committee. Because it hadn’t been run before we could do things exactly as we wanted - it was a great day.”

A second highly commended place was given to Hamish in the Access and Outreach category. He has lectured for the Sutton Trust summer schools for two years, encouraging children from underrepresented backgrounds to study botany. He has worked to increase public understanding of science through Cambridge Festival and Twilight at the Museums talks, as well as creating accessible and engaging information boards and learning trails at Cambridge Botanic Gardens.

Hamish also works to make plant sciences accessible to all, particularly information about pollination and the importance of bees, whether he’s speaking to a beekeeping association or appearing in local, national or international media.

The award citation states: “Overall, this is an inspiring student whose contribution and now legacy deserves to be acknowledged formally.” He says: “I’ve done these things because they're fun and interesting, and I believe they’re an important part of being a scientist - but of course I’m very proud to have received commendations in two categories of the OSCEAs.”

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