Nomination and Judging Process


Mentoring is one of the most important, but probably one of the most underappreciated, aspects of the job of a research advisor. Good mentoring is not simply about great achievement and setting a benchmark of excellence in research — it is also about nurturing and developing the talents and character of the students and young researchers under the mentor’s charge to raise not just exceptional scientists and engineers, but also exceptional human beings. Effective mentoring requires patience, dedication, understanding, attention to detail and the ability to inspire, amongst many other qualities. It is a continuous and long-term process, but its fruits are nothing less than the raising of the next generation of researchers.

The Nature Awards for Mentoring in Science were established in 2005 to recognize and pay tribute to those researchers and academics who have devoted their careers to the development and encouragement of young researchers. Previous mentor awards in the UK, Australia, South Africa and Germany have unearthed mentors who have played a major part in nurturing generations of young students, providing the motivation and guidance in the formative early years of involvement in science to develop valuable career researchers that contribute greatly to our society.

In 2009, the Nature mentor awards will be held in Japan — one of the most important global destinations for research. Japan has produced 12 Nobel laureates in science, and Japanese research continues to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge. Behind these many achievements in engineering and science, large and small, are talented mentors who with patience, dedication and understanding inspired their students to greater challenges.

Nature invites nominations from Japan for the 2009 Awards for Mentoring in Science in two categories: Mid-career Achievement (up to 59 years of age), and Lifetime Achievement (60 years of age and over). Nominations are open to any researcher in any discipline who has demonstrated a commitment to mentoring at Japanese institutions over an extended career. Nominations can be made by any current or former student or colleague of the nominee, from anywhere in the world, with the support of at least two additional nominators who have similarly received mentorship from the nominee at different times during the nominee’s career. Nominees must be resident in Japan at the time of nomination.

Nature does not specify criteria for the role of mentor — whether hands-on guidance and support in the harnessing of creative talent, or occasional advice and facilitation throughout the career of a future research leader. Nature invites the nominators to judge on their own terms what constitutes great mentorship. The winners will be selected by a panel of eminent Japanese researchers as listed below.

The awards will be presented in December 2009 in a ceremony at the Residence of the UK Ambassador, Tokyo, and bring not only a cash prize of 1.5 million yen, but also global recognition as a world-class mentor through acknowledgements in Nature publications.

Nominations for the 2009 Nature Awards for Mentoring in Science open July 22, and will close September 25, 2009.

  • Nominations open July 22
  • Nominations close September 25 at 5:00 pm
  • Winners announced late November
  • Award ceremony on December 1, 2009 at the Residence of the UK Ambassador, Tokyo, Japan
  • Nominees may be from any discipline of the natural sciences or engineering
  • Nominees must be resident in Japan at the time of the nomination, and must have demonstrated a commitment to mentoring at Japanese research institutions over the course of an extended career
  • Nominees may nominate themselves or be nominated by colleagues or ex-colleagues
  • Nominations must be supported by three individuals who have been mentored by the nominee at different periods during the nominee’s career

Nominations will only be accepted as one complete package, which must include the following:

  1. Nomination Summary Form : completed by the principal nominator
  2. Nomination Forms : completed by the principal nominator and two additional nominators (3 in total)
  3. Nominee Form : completed by the nominee
  4. The nominee’s CV in English and Japanese

These forms are also available in Japanese. The forms can be filled out electronically (in English or Japanese) and sent as an email attachment without printing. Adobe Reader is required to view and complete the forms, and can be downloaded for free from www.adobe.com/reader.

Completed nomination packages should be sent by email to by 5:00 pm, Japan Standard Time, on Friday September 25, 2009.

  • Tomonori Aoyama Professor, Research Institute of Digital Media and Contents (DMC), Keio University
  • Masao Ito MD, PhD, Senior Adviser, Brain Science Institute, RIKEN, Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo
  • Kiyoshi Kurokawa MD, Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies
  • Ryoji Noyori Dr.Eng, Director, RIKEN
  • Hiroyuki Sakaki PhD, Vice President, Toyota Technological Institute, Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo
  • Akiyoshi Wada PhD, Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo

Who can be nominated for the Nature mentor awards?

The Nature mentor awards are open to researchers who have spent the majority of their career in Japanese universities and research institutions and who have demonstrated excellence in mentoring over a period of many years. Whilst the achievements of the nominee are important, they will also have a proven record of nurturing outstanding young researchers who have themselves made substantial contributions to science.

Can I nominate myself for the Nature mentor awards?

Yes. Self-nomination is possible provided that the nominee can arrange for three nominators to support the nomination.

Do nominees for the 2009 Japan Nature mentor awards have to be Japanese nationals?

No. However, the nominee must be a resident of Japan at the time of the nomination, and must have a track record of mentoring at Japanese institutions.

Is there a lower age limit for the nominee?

No. However as good mentoring is generally demonstrated over a period of many years, the successful nominee will likely be a researcher of some experience.

How many prizes will be awarded?

Two Nature mentor prizes are to be awarded: one for Mid-career Achievement (up to 59 years of age), and another for Lifetime Achievement (60 years of age and over).

How many nominations does a nominee require?

The nomination must be made by three nominators who have been mentored by the nominee at different stages in the mentor’s career.

How do I nominate someone for the Nature mentor awards?

To make a nomination, compile a single nomination package consisting of a nomination summary form, a completed nominee form (from the person nominated) and nominator forms completed by the principal nominator (yourself) and two other individuals who have been mentored by the nominee and who have agreed to support the nomination. Submit the complete nomination package by email to the Nature mentor awards coordinator at .

Please remember that you must obtain the permission of the nominee before submitting a nomination.

I have been nominated. What should I do?

Congratulations on your nomination. To assist the judging panel in their task, we ask that you provide a completed nominee form and a CV in Japanese and English to the principal nominator, who will send your documents, three completed nomination forms and a nomination summary form as a single package by email to the Nature mentor awards coordinator.

When is the closing date for nominations?

Completed nomination packages must be received by Nature Publishing Group by 5:00 pm on Friday September 25, 2009.

I have a question about the Nature mentor awards.

Please contact the Nature mentor awards coordinator by email at .

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