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Professor’s decades of support and guidance recognised with Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year trophy at THE awards

Posted 26 November 2021

“The evident lifelong dedication to nurturing, developing and promoting doctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds, in someone who is still doing so, meant he was the clear winner.”

A man – Professor Emeritus Richard Godwin – in front of shelves laden with books.

Decades of support, guidance and leadership to students from different backgrounds from across the world were recognised last night when Professor Richard Godwin was named Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards 2021.

Judges were in unanimous agreement that the commitment of Richard Godwin, now a Professor Emeritus at Harper Adams University, to guiding more than 60 PhD students to successful completion of their doctorates made him a worthy recipient of the award.

“The evident lifelong dedication to nurturing, developing and promoting doctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds, in someone who is still doing so, meant he was the clear winner,” said the judging panel, who added that Professor Godwin had “enabled countless candidates and postdocs to access his extensive network of international contacts, giving them both academic and employment advantages.

“Richard is well known among his supervisees for his openness to new ideas and for listening to and appreciating different opinions; yet just as impressive, if not more so, is the warmth and sincerity of tributes to Richard provided by his supervisees at all stages of their careers,” they added.

Former students of Professor Godwin paid tribute to his mentorship while lending their support to his nomination, with one noting: “Professor Godwin, Dick, as we all call him, has always been very motivated, structured, detailed, helpful, supportive, he always has time for his students, gives them some space when needed and also works along them when things get difficult, as they always do in a PhD. From doing heavy calculus to digging soils and all the possible tasks in between, he can do it all!”

Another said: “One of the things I admire in Dick is that he does not simply see a student as someone who carries out the research, graduates and then has no further contact with them.

“Dick has always taken a keen interest in all his students, gives them maximum help and guidance whilst they are undertaking their research, and continues this during their career.”

“I hope to continue my scientific path, and to become a supervisor one day - and I will do my best to mimic Dick’s approach,” said another.

Speaking this morning, Professor Godwin said: “I am honoured to receive THE Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year Award and I thank my colleagues, current and former doctoral students for the nomination.

"The latter - from 21 countries - have now forged very significant careers in all aspects of agricultural engineering. I am proud of their achievements and when they say ‘thank you – you have changed my life for ever!’ it reminds us, as supervisors, we are not just fostering ‘good science and engineering’ but shaping the lives of future generations.”

Professor Godwin received his award in front of nearly a thousand people who had gathered at the Hilton London Metropole hotel for the awards, which celebrated the higher education sector’s recent achievements, not least its outstanding response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

THE editor, John Gill, said: “The Times Higher Education Awards have been recognising outstanding achievements in UK higher education for the best part of two decades, but never before have they shone a light on the level of effort and creativity that was demanded of universities throughout the 2019-20 academic year.

“2019-20 was not just a year of pandemic disruption, it was also a year in which incredible achievements were made in all the areas you would hope and expect: world-changing research, brilliant learning and teaching, international and industrial engagement, and the full gamut of activities that run through universities like words through a stick of rock.”

The full list of winners can be seen on the THE Awards website here.

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