Our awards and prizes

The BNA recognises, promotes and supports neuroscientific excellence via a number of prize schemes. Read below for full details and past prize winners. 


  1. BNA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Neuroscience
  2. BNA Award for Public Engagement of Neuroscience
  3. BNA Undergraduate and Postgraduate Prizes
  4. BNA Scholars Programme
  5. BNA Credibility Prizes
  6. BNA-Brain Carer grants

BNA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Neuroscience

This is the most prestigious of the BNA's awards.

Any member of the BNA can make a nomination for the BNA Outstanding Contribution to Neuroscience Award.  Candidates need not be members of the BNA, but nominations must be made and supported by BNA members.

Please submit nominations for this prize by completing the online application form. The deadline for nominations is 31st October. These should make a case for why the nominee should be recognised for their work in neuroscience.  If you have any questions please contact the BNA office. 

Past Winners

Year Outstanding Contribution to Neuroscience
2021 Professor Joanna Wardlaw
Chair of Applied Neuroimaging; Head of Neuroimaging Sciences and Edinburgh Imaging; Row Fogo Centre Director, University of Edinburgh
2020 Professor Karen Duff
Associate Director (Professor in Dementia and Neurodegeneration) at the UK Dementia Research Institute at UCL.

Professor Steve McMahon
Sherrington Professor of Physiology at King's College London

2018 Professor Irene Tracey
Head of Department for the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences & Professor of Anaesthetic Science
Oxford University
2017 Professor Michael Owen
Professor of Psychological Medicine (Psychiatry)
Cardiff University
2016 Professor David Ogden
Université Paris Descartes 
2015 Professor Angela Vincent
MBBS (Hon PhD Bergen) FRCPath FMedSci FRD, University of Oxford
2014 Professor Dame Kay Davies
CBE, DBE, F.MedSci., FRS. University of Oxford
2013 Professor Uta Frith
Professor of Cognitive Development
UCL Institute of  Neuroscience
2012 Professor Steven Rose
Emeritus Professor of Biology, Open University. Emeritus Professor of Phsick, Gresham College London. Visiting Professor, University College London.
2011 Sir Gabriel Horn FRS FRCP
Emeritus Professor of Zoology
University of Cambridge
2010 Not awarded
2009 FRS Professor Geoffrey Burnstock FRS
2008 FRS Professor Chris Frith FRS
2007 Professor John O'Keefe FRS
2006 Professor Horace Barlow FRS
2005 Professor Richard Gregory FRS
2004 Professor Geoffrey Raisman FRS
2003 Dr Tim Bliss
2002 Professor Richard Morris FRS FRSE
2001 Professor Colin Blakemore FRS
2000 Professor Patrick Wall FRS
First recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to British Neuroscience Award

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BNA Award for Public Engagement of Neuroscience

Any member of the BNA can make a nomination for the BNA award for public engagement.  Candidates need not be members of the BNA, but nominations must be made and supported by BNA members.

Please submit nominations for this prize by completing the online application form. The deadline for nominations is 31st October.  These should make a case for why the nominee should be recognised for their work, in any capacity, in the field of public engagement in neuroscience. 

Past prize winners

Year Public Engagement of Neuroscience
2021 The BrainBus team, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge
BrainBus at MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit provides a pivotal outreach experience to primary school children, exposing them to subjects, careers and role models which they would not otherwise encounter.
2020 Matt Eagles
Matt Eagles has been living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) for some 45 years, but has never succumbed and has been using his enormous experience of this brain disease to raise awareness of PD, acting as a tireless patient advocate and a frequent public speaker contributing to charity events, clinical and scientific meetings and conferences.
2019 Dr Dean Burnett
Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist, lecturer, author, blogger, podcaster, pundit, science communicator, comedian and numerous other things, depending on who’s asking and what they need.
2018 Dr Emma Yhnell
Cardiff University. Health and Care Research Wales Fellow working in the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI). Fellowship focusing on computerised cognitive training (brain training) for people with Huntington's disease. Dedicated STEM ambassador and role model who was awarded the prestigious Charles Darwin Lecture at the 2018 British Science Festival.  
2017 Dr Dervila Glynn
University of Cambridge. Neuroscience coordinator who supports neuroscientists across the institution through activities including conferences and seminars. Significant contributor to BRAINfest public event in 2017. 
2016 Dr Emma Robinson
University of Bristol. A full time neuroscientist who is also highly active in carrying out public engagement, and in facilitating other people to do so via the Bristol Neuroscience Festival. 
  Public Understanding of Neuroscience

Professor Mark Lythgoe
University College London. TV and radio presenter, director of Cheltenham Science Festival.

2014 Science Media Centre
Fiona Fox, Chief Executive and Dr Edward Sykes, Senior Press Manager and Head of Mental Health & Neuroscience.
2013 Dr Jane Haley
Edinburgh Neuroscience Coordinator, University of Edinburgh
2012 Claudia Hammond
British author, occasional TV presenter, and frequent radio presenter with the BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4
2011 Oliver Sacks MD FRCP
Neurologist and Author; Columbia University, New York
2010 Ben Goldacre
Medical doctor, author and blogger
2009 Mary Baker MBE
2008 Sir Terry Pratchett
2007 Lord (David) Sainsbury of Turville
2006 Michael Robins
2005 Dr Mark Matfield
2004 European DANA Alliance for the Brain (EDAB)
2003 Lord (Jack) Ashley of Stoke
2002 Marjorie Wallace (SANE)
2001 Lord (Brian) Rix of Hornsea (MENCAP)
2000 Andrew Blake
1999 Julia Somerville
First recipient of the BNA Public Service Award

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BNA Undergraduate and Postgraduate Prizes

Each year, the BNA awards an undergraduate (£250) and a postgraduate (£500) prize to student BNA members. Our prize winners often, if not always, go on to be highly successful in their chosen fields, playing a leading role in neuroscience. 

Applicants for both postgraduate and undergraduate prizes must be current BNA members. All nominations should be sent by email to office@bna.org.uk by 31st October each year. We encourage you to nominate your students! 

The specific requirements for applicants can be found under the 'For members' section of the website. Please get in touch with any questions

BNA Undergraduate and Postgraduate Prize Winners

Year Undergraduate Winner Postgraduate Winner
2021 Sioned Williams
(University of Leeds)
Alberto Lazari
(University of Oxford)
2020 Tahnee Mackensen
(University of Edinburgh)
Alexander Bates
(University of Cambridge)

Pia Siegele
(University of Edinburgh)

James Phillips
(University of Cambridge)

2018 Rachel Coney 
(University of Leeds) 
Delia Fuhrmann
(University College London)
2017 Irene Echeverria Altuna 
(University College London) 
Gido van de Ven
(University of Oxford)
2016 Jointly awarded to:
Alina Gutoreva (University of Leeds)
Blair Wilson (University of Edinburgh)
Chen Song 
(University College London)
2015 Veselina Petrova
(University of Edinburgh)
Kathryn Mills
(University College London)
2014 Lauren Byrne
(University of Edinburgh)
Linda Katona
(University of Oxford)
2013 Elina Jacobs
(University of Edinburgh)
Rumana Chowdhury
(University College London)
2012 Lewis Hou
(University of Edinburgh)
Dr Florence Rose Fricker
(King's College London)
2011 Kate Clark (University of Central Lancashire)
Special Commendation to Joseph Norris (King's College London)
Dr Christian Münch
(LMB, University of Cambridge)
2010 Owen Thomas (University of Birmingham)
Special Commendation to Sally Harris
(University of Bristol)

Dr Stephanie Burnett
(University College London)

2009 Not awarded Not awarded
2008 Phillip Goldrich
(University of Leeds)
Dr Lara Menzies
(University of Cambridge)
2007 Richard Hickman
(University of Birmingham)
Dr Rosamund Langston
(University of Edinburgh)
2006 Sophie Buglass
(University of Leeds)
Dr Karen Luyt
(University of Bristol)
2005 Jointly awarded to:
Luxmi Fatimathas (University College London) 
Matthew Martin (University of Bradford)
Dr Felipe Court
(University of Edinburgh)

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BNA Scholars Programme

The BNA is excited to announce the launch for the second cohort of the BNA Scholars programme.

The purpose of the BNA Scholars programme is to support students from underrepresented ethnic groups to thrive in neuroscience, and build a supportive community through networking opportunities, bursaries and mentorship.

Annual award cycle: 

  • Autumn: Scholar and mentor applications open
  • Late December: Scholar applications close
  • Spring: Mentor applications close
  • Spring: Scholars announced
  • Spring: Mentors matched with Scholars

About the programme

What is offered

There are seven places on the BNA Scholars programme in this first year (a pilot year). Successful BNA Scholars will remain on the programme for three years* and the programme confers the following benefits for the full three years*:

  • Free membership to the BNA
  • Free membership of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS)
  • Access to a BNA Scholars’ mentoring scheme administered through the BNA
  • Networking opportunities through the BNA and BNA events
  • Opportunities to connect with key individuals within the BNA, for instance members of the BNA Council and Committee, and the Editorial Board of the BNA Journal
  • Funding towards BNA Festival of Neuroscience attendance
  • Funding towards FENS Forum attendance
  • £300 career development grant from HelloBio**

*If the Scholar completes their neuroscience degree and does not remain in the neuroscience sector (where ‘the neuroscience sector’ includes any neuroscience-related role in the public, charity or commercial sector, including both academia and industry) before the three years are completed, they will receive free BNA Associate membership for the remainder of the three years but no other benefits. If the scholar is still in process of completing their neuroscience degree after the three years have finished, then ongoing inclusion on the scholarship will be reviewed on a year by year basis. We will take into consideration any required career breaks (e.g for caring responsibilities) on a case by case basis.

**Only available to the second cohort of Scholars

Expectations of BNA Scholars

Expectations of BNA Scholars are as follows:

  • Commitment to engage with the programme and attend mentoring meetings with your mentor
  • To feedback to the BNA (both formally and informally) based on your experiences for evaluation purposes
  • To engage with the BNA and participate in related activities e.g. to contribute to an article in the BNA Bulletin
  • To attend the biennial BNA Festival of Neuroscience and present a poster at the Festival if possible
  • To attend the biennial FENS Forums
  • Recipients of the £300 career development grant from HelloBio to complete an interview for their blog

There is an expectation of 4-6 meetings between the Scholar and mentor per year. The format of meeting can be decided between the Scholar and mentor, whether they take place online, over the phone or in person (when permitted).

Eligibility of Scholars

Scholar applicants must be:

  • A Final Year Undergraduate, Masters (including integrated Masters) or PhD student. Or an early career research technician/assistant (positions must be held after an undergraduate or master’s degree). 
  • Affiliated with UK Higher Education Institution (and planning to remain affiliated for at least the next year)
  • Self-identify as Black, Asian, or minority ethnic
  • Interested in pursuing a future career and have research interests in neuroscience and/or the wider neuroscience sector

Expectations of mentors

Expectations of mentors are as follows:

  • Commitment to engage with the programme and attend mentoring meetings with your BNA Scholar
  • To feedback to the BNA based on your experiences for evaluation purposes

There is an expectation of 4-6 meetings between the Scholar and mentor per year. The format of meeting can be decided between the Scholar and mentor, whether they take place online, over the phone or in person (when permitted).

Eligibility of mentors

We are welcoming mentor applications from all ethnicities and all career stages.

BNA Scholar candidates will be asked of their mentor preferences during their application stage and successful candidates will be matched with a mentor through a review panel.

Selection process

To ensure fairness in the selecting process, all application form data will be anonymised. A review panel, chaired by the BNA National Committee member for equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), has been set up to assist in the initial Scholar selection process and the mentor matching process.

If there are a greater number of applicants who meet all criteria than there are scholarships available, then factors including the following will be considered when selecting the successful applicants:

  • Geographical spread across the UK
  • Ethnic group
  • Commitment to the BNA scheme and to mentoring future cohorts
  • Likelihood of and commitment to pursuing a career in neuroscience or related to neuroscience
  • Overall balanced representation

BNA Scholar and mentor matching process

After the announcement of successful BNA Scholars, the mentor matching process will take place. 

  • A call for mentors will go out to previous applicants, alongside a new advertisement drive each year. The mentors complete an online application form in which they describe their expertise and why they want to be a mentor.
  • Each Scholar will be provided with a copy of the mentors’ answers and asked to indicate their top four choices.
  • The BNA Scholars programme coordinator will then review the matches.  

There will be a no-commitment introduction meeting between the BNA Scholar and mentor before a final decision is made. We want to reassure applicants that the BNA is committed to ensuring the BNA Scholar feels well-matched with their mentor.

BNA Scholar attendance at BNA Festivals of Neuroscience and FENS Forums

We expect the successful BNA Scholar candidates to attend the biennial BNA Festivals of Neuroscience and, in the intervening years, the biennial FENS Forums. These events will be a thoroughly enjoyable experience, whilst offering the opportunity to present a poster and network.

If a successful BNA Scholar has already registered and submitted a poster abstract for BNA Festival of Neuroscience, then the BNA will issue a refund. In the case of successful BNA Scholar candidates who have not registered or submitted a poster abstract, we will offer a special abstract submission window in which they can do so. The poster abstract will be subject to peer-review prior to acceptance.

How to apply

Please ensure you fill in the correct application form for either the BNA Scholar or mentor position. 

BNA Scholar application form: You will be asked to provide general applicant details and information regarding your current degree programme/course. You will also be asked to provide 200 words on your research interests and plans for the future, as well as 200 words on why you want to be part of the programme and how you think it might benefit you.

BNA Scholar applications are now closed. 

Mentor application form: You will be asked to provide general applicant details and information regarding your current career stage. You will also be asked to describe your expertise (research area, techniques you use, experience to date etc) and to provide 200 words on why you want to be a mentor on the programme and how you think you are well-suited to be a mentor.

BNA Scholar applications are now closed.

Founding Supporters

The BNA Scholars programme is proudly supported by our eight Founding Supporters: Bristol Neuroscience (University of Bristol), COMPASS PathwaysDeepMindGatsby FoundationGuarantors of BrainInternational Brain Research Organization (IBRO), MSD and the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI), as well as new supporters HelloBio. We are incredibly grateful for their cohesive commitment to the BNA Scholars programme and associated EDI activities.

BNA EDI supporters logos

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BNA Credibility Prizes

The Credibility Prizes aim to recognise work within the field of neuroscience that reflect outstanding efforts to make neuroscience research as credible as possible – either directly through leading by example in the course of their own research, or through efforts aimed at aiding neuroscientists to do this more widely.  

We piloted these in 2021, with further prizes in 2022 – find out about the winners by visiting our BNA Credibility website here and check back for our next nominations later this year.


The Gatsby Foundation logoThe Gatsby Foundation

We are very grateful to the Gatsby Foundation for their ongoing support of the BNA, including our BNA Scholars programme and Credibility in Neuroscience campaign. 

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BNA-Brain Carer grants

BNA and the Guarantors of Brain logo

We are delighted to announce that, thanks to the support of the Guarantors of Brain, the BNA is awarding Carer Grants of up to £300 to help cover expenses associated with caring responsibilities and thereby enable participation in either BNA-hosted or external neuroscience events.

These BNA-Brain Carer Grants are inclusive of different circumstances and varied caring responsibilities, and can be used to support the attendance of in-person or online events.  They are simply intended to enable participation of neuroscientists in a conference, workshop, training or other activity that is of benefit to their research, teaching or career, which would otherwise be difficult or impossible due to their caring responsibilities.

Who are the BNA-Brain Carer Grants for?

We appreciate that there are multiple ways in which people manage caring responsibilities and we welcome applications from a broad range of family systems.

It might be that parents of school age children apply for a grant to access a paid-for online learning programme for older children. Carers of younger children might want to access professional childcare. People may be caring for older relatives or neighbours, and need a professional carer to allow them time to participate in events.

BNA-Brain Carer grants can be used to support participation of any delegate attending either a BNA-hosted or external neuroscience event, whether or not they are presenting any work. This includes in-person or online events.

You can apply for a BNA-Brain Carer grant at any career stage, from student to professor.

Preference will be given to those with younger children and/or extenuating circumstances.

What will BNA-Brain Carer grants support?

We recognise that everyone's circumstances will be different, and we want these grants to meet as many different and varied needs as possible.  So long as you can provide a good case for why you need a grant to cover costs, it will be considered for funding.  Such costs could include but are not limited to:

  • Costs of a childcare provider, either in your home or in an external setting
  • Cost of an in-home carer for dependent, or cost of an external care setting
  • Access to teaching or other activities for older children
  • Any other activity/purpose for helping delegates to meet caring responsibilities

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for a BNA-Brain Carer grant you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be a member of the BNA at the time of application. You can join here straight away: https://www.bna.org.uk/about/membership.
  • Awards are open to anyone at any career stage (students, postdocs, ECRs, clinicians, PIs or others) with dependents or caring responsibilities.
  • Awards are to enable participation in meetings or activities that further your research, teaching or career, or otherwise support the neuroscience sector.
  • Preference is given to more junior attendees, those with younger children, presenters, and those with extenuating circumstances.

What information do I need to provide?

To apply for a grant just fill in the form below.  You will be asked to provide:

  • Contact details and basic demographics
  • Information about the event or activity you wish to attend, and how you will benefit from participating (max 200 words)
  • Basic information about your caring responsibilities (for children or others)
  • How much you're applying for, up to a maximum of £300
  • Outline how you will use the funding (max 200 words)
  • Any special considerations we should take into account e.g. single parenthood (max 200 words)

Please complete the form below or click here to open in a new window.

We are very grateful to the Guarantors of Brain for their continued commitment to the BNA-Brain Carer grants and are proud that we can continue to support our neuroscience community through this important initiative.

BNA and the Guarantors of Brain logo

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