Llama lab expert named UK’s best technician at THE Awards
18 November 2022
A laboratory technician who has played a key role in some of Reading’s biggest science breakthroughs has been named the UK and Ireland’s outstanding technician.
Hong Lin, senior technician at the University of Reading, has worked on projects leading to the development of new treatments for children with epilepsy, and on projects using llama antibodies to develop therapies for covid-19.
She was named by judges at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2022, held in London last night (17 November), as the Outstanding Technician of the Year, a category in which eight other entrants from across the UK and Ireland had been shortlisted.
The Times Higher Education Awards are the leading awards in the that celebrate the work of individual and institutions in universities and colleges in the UK and Ireland. They cover the full range of university activity - both academic and support services, from front-line staff through to all levels of leadership and management.
Hong Lin is in high demand from research groups at the University of Reading. Hong is the go-to person for advice on several techniques, including cell culture, radio-ligand binding, immunostaining, and western blot, as well as general laboratory practice. She is also championing the role of technicians and raising the profile of the profession among students and colleagues.
During 2020 and 2021, Hong Lin was involved in two major breakthroughs: The first cannabinoid-derived medicine to become fully available to the NHS, and a COVID-19 therapy with the potential to be considered for clinical trials, which uses antibodies produced in llamas at the university’s farm.
Hong is passionate about the visibility of the technician’s role, a particularly of technicians from underrepresented groups. So, although modest and most comfortable working behind the scenes, last year she challenged herself, being interviewed for the UKRI 101 Jobs that Change the World Campaign.
Without skilled technicians acting as a linchpin, working behind the scenes, and promoting quality in research, universities would cease to have a working environment that is conducive to success.
The award win was the second for the University of Reading at this year’s awards, with Paul Williams, Nancy Nichols, and Cathie Wells, from the University of Reading’s School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences, winning Research Project of the Year for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).
Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said:
“The University of Reading seeks to bring about positive change in the world. Both Paul and Hong have made significant contributions in that respect and should be justly proud of themselves. Their work sits in the context of an active, lively, and successful research community, here at the University of Reading.”