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Championing Leaders in Food and Nutrition: Scientists and teachers awarded at the BNF Awards 2020

The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) acknowledged the outstanding accomplishments of nutrition scientists and teachers during its annual awards ceremony, which was hosted virtually for the first time.

Each year, the BNF highlights and celebrates those who have made positive and important steps within the nutrition science community. UK and international winners picked up awards within the four different categories including: the BNF Annual Prize, BNF Drummond Education Awards, BNF Drummond Pump Priming Award and BNF Drummond Early Career Scientist Award.

This year, the BNF Prize is awarded to Professor Gary Frost, Head of Nutrition Research and Director of the Imperial College Centre for Translational Nutrition and Food Research. Professor Frost was selected by the BNF Trustees for his outstanding contributions to the field over the years; most recently exploring the role dietary carbohydrates play in metabolism and understanding how changes in the food chain affect nutrient intake. Professor Frost will be invited to deliver the BNF Annual Lecture next year.

Professor Frost said: “My career has taken me from treating patients as a clinical dietitian to leading large scale research trials on diet and health backed up with detailed mechanistic research. The driving force throughout my career has been to establish evidence-based diet and lifestyle changes that can make a real difference to people’s long-term health. Most of my work is very multidisciplinary and cuts across academia, industry, and health. This award should really be shared with a massive number of scientists, industrialists and health care workers who have contributed so freely to my work. Working in areas like dietary carbohydrates and appetite regulation, I know how challenging it can be to clearly communicate the science to a wider audience. This is where organisations like BNF have a key role in translating evidence-based nutrition science and I’m delighted to have been recognised in this year’s BNF Prize.”

Now in their 30th year, the BNF Drummond Education Awards were first established to increase awareness and good practice in food and nutrition among the younger generation. This year the Education Awards were given to outstanding teachers throughout the UK who have consistently championed food and nutrition education.

The winners are:

  • Lynsey McDermott, Subject Leader for Food Technology at Bangor Grammar School, Northern Ireland
  • Joe Mann, Head of Food Preparation and Nutrition at Torquay Girls’ Grammar School, England
  • Sian Hedges, Curriculum Leader of Home Economics, Catering, Child Development, Health and Social Care and Healthy Schools co-ordinator at St John Baptist Church High School, Wales
  • Siobhan Whelan, recently retired Head of Home Economics, Sullivan Upper School, Northern Ireland
  • Valerie Howe, Home Economics Teacher at Garnock Community Campus, Scotland

The five recipients of BNF Drummond Education Awards were nominated by their peers or employers for their application of accurate nutrition science into effective classroom practice and/or remote learning strategies.

Roy Ballam, Managing Director and Head of Education, BNF, commented: “Due to the disruption the education sector has faced as a result of the pandemic, we felt it was ever-more important for us to highlight the incredible efforts of teaching staff who continually inspire and educate young minds on the importance of healthy eating and nutrition. We would like to share heartfelt congratulations with all the recipients of the BNF Drummond Education Awards, as well as thanking them for their continued commitment to education during these difficult times.

At the Foundation we support teachers across the country in delivering quality food and nutrition education. During the first lockdown, we launched a remote resource hub on our educational website, Food – a fact of life, designed for teachers and parents educating students at home. This included worksheets, videos, food cards and interactive tools that were adapted in order to make them easier to apply to home learning. Over the year over 400 thousand parents and teachers have downloaded over 1.3 million resources from Food – a Fact of Life.”

Also presented during the BNF Awards 2020 ceremony was the BNF Drummond Pump Priming Award, which recognises the achievements of nutrition scientists in the early stages of their careers, supporting them to gain their first research grant. This year’s winner is Dr Luciana Torquati, from the Department of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, for her research looking at the gut microbiome within endurance exercise. In addition to receiving a £5,000 grant, Dr Torquati will have the opportunity to contribute an article to BNF’s journal Nutrition Bulletin, explaining how winning the Award has helped support her research.

In addition, first place for the BNF Drummond Early Career Scientist Awards, which recognises nutrition scientists who show strong prospects of becoming future leaders in their respective fields, is awarded to Dr Imre Kouw. Dr Kouw is a post-doctoral researcher at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne and received the award for her research into the impact of intermittent fasting on skeletal muscle metabolism.

The two runner-up places were presented to Dr Taryn Smith, a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Global Nutrition, University of California Davis, for her work and research into thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, and Dr Nanna Julie Olsen, a post-doctoral researcher at the Research Unit for Dietary Studies at the Parker Institute, Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital in Denmark, researching the effect consuming sugary beverages has on a children’s metabolism.

Sara Stanner, Science Director at BNF said: “Despite the challenges that the COVID–19 pandemic has presented this year, it was crucial to us that our BNF awards ceremony still went ahead; allowing us to continue championing the efforts of the many remarkable nutrition scientists we have working across our field. We thank those who have contributed so heavily across their careers to date, and are pleased to recognise rising stars who we know will make fantastic leaders within the world of nutrition science as we move into the future.”

All of the BNF Drummond Awards are made possible through the BNF’s management of the Drummond Memorial Fund, established in 1954 to commemorate the work of Sir Jack Drummond and his important contributions to development in the application of nutrition science for public health.

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