Louisa Zolkiewski wins the 2021 Weilin Wang Prize

Louisa Zolkiewski

By MRC Harwell

15th December 2021 · 2 min read

Louisa, a PhD student in Roger Cox’s group, wins the annual award for dedication, enthusiasm, commitment, and support for others that “shines across MRC Harwell”

Louisa Zolkiewski, a PhD student in Roger Cox’s group in the Mammalian Genetics Unit (MGU) at MRC Harwell, has been awarded the Weilin Wang Prize, an award presented annually to the PhD student who has made the largest contribution to life at MRC Harwell beyond their research activities.

Weilin Wang was in the second year of her PhD in the MGU when she tragically died while on a climbing holiday in Scotland in 2008. Since then, the Weilin Wang Prize has been awarded annually in her memory and in recognition of the personal qualities that made Weilin stand out as such an exceptional student by celebrating students who similarly contribute greatly to the life of the research unit.

Louisa was announced as the winner of this year’s prize by Steve Brown, the Director of the MRC Harwell Institute, at a virtual prize presentation event, with Steve commending her for her dedication, enthusiasm, and commitment, all of which are reflected in the help that she has given to other students, technicians, and staff that “shines across MRC Harwell”. Steve congratulated Louisa, saying, “We all very much look forward to seeing you take these qualities into your future career!”

Alongside a PhD project focusing on how certain genetic variants can affect fat distribution and lead to metabolic disease, Louisa is also an environmental representative at MRC Harwell, working as part of a diverse committee to implement a range of schemes to reduce the impact of our research on the environment.

About winning the Prize, Louisa commented, “Thank you to everyone who nominated me for the Weilin Wang Prize – I was completely shocked when Steve announced I had won! I am grateful to everyone at Harwell who has trained and supported me throughout my PhD. It has been a pleasure to work with people who have expertise in so many different areas, and to have the chance to contribute to wider research at Harwell.”

Steve also acknowledged two other PhD students, Eboni Bucknor and Dom Simpson, both students in Peter Oliver’s Molecular Neurobiology group, for both making contributions widely across the unit and supporting many others, and Roger Cox, who opened the event, congratulated PhD students across the unit for remaining outstanding, despite having to deal with challenging times over the last couple of years.

Louisa is nearing the end of her PhD and also commented, “I want to stay in research and hope to be able to combine my interests in understanding the implications of genetic mutations on disease with targeting these to develop biomarker assays or personalised treatment options.”