The 2020 Nature Research Awards for Mentoring in Science recognised three researchers working in Israel. Neta Erez, a cancer biologist at Tel Aviv University, and Tal Pupko, a molecular biologist also at Tel Aviv University, shared the mid-career mentoring achievement award. Hanah Margalit, a bioinformatician at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, won the award for lifetime achievement in mentoring.
The winners have much in common beyond their shared home nation. Each sees mentorship as a fundamental part of their role as a scientist, and all are eager to offer advice to other principal investigators (PIs) who want to improve their mentoring skills.
The winners’ efforts to inspire and motivate their teams are clearly effective. The materials provided to support their nominations — from colleagues, and current and former students — brim with gratitude and admiration.
Pupko earned praise for always making his students his “highest priority” without compromising scientific excellence. A former student wrote that Erez combines “endless drive and professionalism” with patience, openness and a willingness to listen.
And another former student said that Margalit, a pioneer of bioinformatics in Israel, has “touched the lives and careers of multiple current faculty members, both new and established, with her enthusiasm, empathy, and critical mind”.
The three winners were announced on 21 December; Margalit receives a US$10,000 cash prize, and Erez and Pupko share another $10,000. Nature spoke to them to learn more about their mentoring styles and their top tips for leading a lab.