In December 2014 the Science and SciLifeLab Prize for young scientists will be awarded for the second time. For Daniel Streicker, the Grand prizewinner of 2013, winning the award has led to new collaborations, a larger research group and new forms of support from his current university.
“The Science and SciLifeLab prize is fantastic”, says Daniel, Sir Henry Dale Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow. “The financial aspects are quite nice of course; it gives me some flexibility to travel for instance. It has also increased the visibility of my research; to be highlighted in Science is a tremendous benefit.”
It was a popular science essay on this work that made Daniel win the Grand prize among four category winners last year, and his essay was published in Science. The prize award was held in the famous Hall of Mirrors at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm, the location for the first Nobel Prize ceremony back in 1901. The four winners and representatives from Science visited Stockholm and Uppsala during four days, taking part of an exciting scientific program as well as visiting SciLifeLab in Stockholm and Uppsala.
“The trip to Stockholm was a great experience and involved a lot of scientific networking and socializing which gave me many new scientific contacts.”
It all started one day when his PhD-supervisor saw an advertisement for the prize and suggested that he should apply.
“I thought it was a long shot at the time but it seemed like it would be a fun essay to write and I saw it as a good opportunity to advertise my research and myself. It is always nice to create a synthesis of what you have done and put in a broader context, especially with a body of work like a PhD”.
Daniel Streicker’s research focuses on understanding how pathogens, mainly bat viruses, transmit within and between species. It applies both field- and molecular studies as well as statistical and mathematical models. It also involves a lot of ecology and evolutionary questions, like how evolution allows certain pathogens to succeed jumping between different hosts and how changing patterns of land use in developing countries can affect disease transmission among wildlife, humans and domestic animals.
“The publicity of the prize and the resulting networking opportunities are providing a foot in the door to set up new collaborations. The Science and SciLifeLab prize highlights the winner as a person and it has definitely helped me. People in the field know who I am now – rather than just seeing a paper here and there, they see a compilation of what I am interested in and how I address those questions. It’s a rare chance to portray a complete picture of an early-career scientist.”
According to Daniel, the prize has also contributed to how his current university values him. Since the prize award, his lab has grown quickly. A year ago it was just he, a lab technician and a two field assistants – now he leads group of five researchers in Glasgow and is able to support much larger teams for his field work in Peru. Daniel has also joined a second unit within his University and was offered the stability of an open-ended appointment at the end of his current fellowship.
“Moving from my own little PhD project to having more structure with PhD-students and postdocs that I can supervise and collaborate with is really nice. It also allows the research to take new directions, which is very exciting. For example, we are continuing to generate the base of evidence needed to empower science based control of the spread of rabies within vampire bats in Latin America, but also exploring fundamental questions about cross-species transmission and the role of host and pathogen genomics in studying disease ecology”.
About Daniel Streicker
Daniel Streicker is a Sir Henry Dale Research Fellow at the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine and the Medical Research Council Centre for Virus Research at the University of Glasgow. His research applies longitudinal field studies, phylogenetics and epidemiological modeling to understand the process by which infectious diseases emerge and establish in new host species. He received his PhD from the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia in 2011 and worked previously as an Emerging Infectious Diseases Fellow at the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.