Horizon Awards 2023

The Horizon Awards recognise individual microbiologists at the forefront of microbiological research.

Nominations for 2023 are now closed.

Please contact [email protected] with any questions regarding your nomination. We are help to help you and want to make this as easy a process as possible.

The Horizon Awards are designed to celebrate individuals that are pushing forward, challenging the boundaries of applied microbiology with new discoveries and innovations. Each of the awards is based around one of our core UN Sustainable Development Goals, and named after a distinguished individual who has been recognised by AMI for an outstanding contribution to the field. Each prize consists of an award certificate, an unrestricted educational grant of £6000 and a unique trophy.

Click here to see the full details of our nomination criteria for these awards. You must read and understand these before nominating yourself and/or someone else for an award. AMI both permits and encourages self-nomination. This is to ensure people from all parts of the applied microbiology community have a fair chance of being recognised for their achievements. We are keen to ensure that we recognise excellence in all areas of applied microbiology. Therefore, we welcome nominations that reflect the diversity of our microbiology community. We particularly welcome nominees from under-represented groups and from individuals with diverse or non-traditional career trajectories.

After the close of the nomination deadline, submissions are sent for consideration by our Horizon Award Committee where they will be shortlisted. Candidates that are successfully shortlisted will be notified of their nomination. After a second round of consideration, award winners will be notified.

Click the panels below to find out more about each award!

WH Pierce Prize : UN SDG 1 No Poverty

Across the globe there are huge disparities in access to basic services such as healthcare, education, and economic resources, with the UN estimating over 98 million people live on less than $1.90 a day. Economic equality and microorganisms are closely linked, for example it is estimated that four years of progress against poverty has been erased by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is essential that the interconnected nature of human financial systems and microbial research is better appreciated and understood to successfully strive for a world with Economic Equality.

At Applied Microbiology International, we truly believe that it is possible for applied microbiology research to contribute towards positive significant changes and move towards a world with economic equality by identifying those areas which actively maintain cycles of poverty and disparity. By identifying such areas, it will become possible to tackle these challenges directly, using both microbiological knowledge and microbiology as a tool to uplift communities suffering with economic inequality.

Since 1984 the WH Pierce Prize has been awarded to a scientist who has made a significant contribution to applied microbiology. This year we are asking nominees to consider how their research aids sustainable development, poverty eradication and reducing inequalities. This may be through a groundbreaking discovery, an inspiring story, or any other contribution that is deserving of recognition on the international stage. 

The winner of the WH Pierce Prize is eligible for a UK Global Talent visa without the need for the applicant to seek endorsement. The scheme was launched by the UK Home Office in February 2020 to encourage the brightest minds to come to the UK.

William (Bill) Henry Pierce was the former Chief Bacteriologist of Oxo Ltd (now Oxoid) and a long-time member of Applied Microbiology International. During his life he made significant contributions to the improvement of bacterial culture media, that are still used in a vast range of applications worldwide today. The WH Pierce Prize is sponsored by ThermoFisher Scientific and additionally supported by WH Pierce's family who contribute £1000 to the award each year. 


Click here to find out about past recipients of the WH Pierce Prize

Previous winners


Basil Jarvis Prize : UN SDG 2 Zero Hunger

Millions of people are undernourished globally and with the population growing, food security is a major concern. The expanding global population, combined with the challenges proposed by climate change means that protecting food production is a pressing issue. Food security is multifaceted, requiring advancements in food safety, ensuring products have a good shelf life, reducing spoilage and providing dietary additions to improve the nutrient intake of the population.

The application of microbiology is far reaching, and new approaches are required to maintain food security. Microorganisms are present in in all processes of food production, be this beneficial or harmful. The effects of microorganisms in food production range from aquaculture, livestock, and plant infection to cheese, bread and wine production and probiotic manufacture. Thus, it is essential that these microbial interactions are better understood, and the power of microbiology is harnessed to make it possible to minimise avoidable food wastage and forecast and mitigate food shortages.

The Basil Jarvis Prize will be awarded to a scientist who has made a significant contribution to the expansive field of food safety, food fermentations and food security. This may be through a significant discovery, an inspiring story, or any other contribution that is deserving of recognition on the international stage.

Professor Basil Jarvis was a distinguished researcher in the field of food microbiology and is a past President of Applied Microbiology International. He was the author of more than 200 scientific articles and contributed to several well-regarded textbooks concerned with the advancement of food microbiology and was an avid advocate for the advancement of early career scientists.


John Snow Prize : UN SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation

UNICEF estimates that over 2.2 billion people worldwide do not have access to clean drinking water. Microorganisms are responsible for a host of waterborne diseases which cause unnecessary disease and death. Simultaneously, using microbes to our advantage can offer solutions in purifying water and improving sanitation. Ultimately, this will increase access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, whilst making hygiene practices more accessible for many people across the globe.

Biofertilizers offer promising solutions for reduced nutrient runoff and wastewater recycling. As well as applying microbes to combat the problem, applied microbiologists can use their knowledge of health and disease to reduce cases of waterborne disease, improving the quality of life for people worldwide.

The John Snow Prize will be awarded to a scientist who has made a significant contribution to the expansive field of clean water and sanitation, such as the management of surface and groundwater contamination or human exposure to pathogens. This may be through a significant discovery, an inspiring story, or any other contribution that is deserving of recognition on the international stage.

John Snow was an English physician widely viewed as the father of modern epidemiology because of his ground-breaking studies of cholera. During the second cholera epidemic in London in 1848–49, Snow together with other British physicians founded the London Epidemiological Society to advise the government on ways to combat the recurrent epidemics. However, Snow reputable name mainly arose from two his studies. First, using a scientific methodology he was able to trace the source of the third cholera outbreak in 1854 to the Broad Street pump in Soho. The second major contribution was with his “Grand Experiment”, which lasted until 1855, in which he demonstrated the harmful effect of contaminated water by comparing waterborne cholera in London neighbourhoods receiving sewage-contaminated water as opposed to those receiving relatively clean water coming from upper River Thames away from urban pollution.  

Following his findings, observations, and intervention ideas, such as disease mapping as strategy to control the epidemic, Snow's findings encouraged fundamental modifications to London's water and sewage systems, fostering comparable adjustments in other cities and leading a dramatic improvement in global public health resulting in lasting recognition of his work. 


Christiana Figueres Prize : UN SDG 13 Climate Action

Today we are seeing climate change in action, increased concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases have led to a rise in sea levels, temperatures, and extreme weather patterns. It is an undeniable danger to the entire globe which threatens every individual on the planet. The full extent of the dangers of climate change are yet to be seen, and intervention is urgently required to make positive changes to our planet.

Researchers have acknowledged the pivotal role microorganisms in producing sustainable biofuels, increasing carbon sequestration via soil microbes and reducing methane emissions in landfill sites. By acknowledging the powerful impact applied microbiology can have on our planet, there is the potential to apply this to real world problems such as climate change, to change our world for the better. Microbial innovation will be vital in moving towards a low carbon economy, creating a healthier and more sustainable planet for the future.

The Christiana Figueres Prize will be awarded to a scientist who has used microbiology to help further our understanding of climate change or directly in solutions that can lower greenhouse gas emissions or turn renewable resources into low-carbon and low-cost electricity, fuels, chemicals or materials. This may be through a significant discovery, an inspiring story, or any other contribution that is deserving of recognition on the international stage.

Christiana Figueres started her climate action leadership almost 30 years ago. She founded the Centre for Sustainable Development in the Americas in 1995, was a negotiator of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and the Vice President of the Bureau of the Climate Convention representing Latin America and the Caribbean. Ms Figueres has provided senior strategic guidance on climate change issues to organisations such as C-Quest Capital, Italian energy company Eni, S.p.A, World Bank, the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, Carbon Rating Agency Carbon, and Project Catalyst. She has received countless awards and goverment recognitions including the are-millennium-award (2017), Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed by Ethical Corporation (2018), The Edinburgh Medal (2019), Apolitical's 100 Most Influential People in Gender Policy (2021), the International Eco-Hero (2022) and appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (2022).


Rachel Carson Prize : UN SDG 14 Life below Water

Over 70% of the earth is covered in water, which serves as a vital resource human subsistence. We rely heavily on our oceans for food, energy and water meaning oceans are essential to human existence on this earth. Despite this, pollution and overfishing have caused large amounts of damage to this precious resource. Contamination and acidification pose major threats to aquatic health and biodiversity.

Microbes offer a promising solution in their ability to breakdown contamination from oil spills and plastics. Exploring the microbiomes of these underwater environments is vital to better understand these complex underwater communities which are essential to our planet. Applied microbiologists can play a significant part in understanding biodiversity as well as contributing to solutions. and encouraging stewardship with the aim of protecting our oceans for now and for future generations.

The Rachel Carson Prize will be awarded to a scientist who has used microbiology to help further our understanding of ocean biodiversity or directly in solutions that conserve and sustainably use marine resources for sustainable development. This may be through a significant discovery, an inspiring story, or any other contribution that is deserving of recognition on the international stage.

Rachel Carson was an American marine biologist and writer. She catalyzed the global environmental movement with her 1962 book ‘Silent Spring’ outlining the dangers of chemical pesticides on the ecosystems and on humans, including causing cancer. She also accused the chemical industry of spreading misinformation and public officials of accepting industry claims uncritically. Following her publication, President John F. Kennedy’s Science Advisory Committee Report validated Carson’s research leading to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides and sparked the movement that ultimately led to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency. 

In 1936 Ms. Carson became the second woman hired by the US Bureau of Fisheries where she was then Editor-in-Chief of all publications for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. She won a National Book Award, a national science writing-prize and a Guggenheim grant. Ms. Carson also received medals from the National Audubon Society and the American Geographical Society, and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She passed away 2 years after the publication of ‘Silent Spring’ but in 1980 was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  


Dorothy Jones Prize : UN SDG 15 Life on Land

Land has a wide variety of uses: agricultural, residential, industrial, and recreational. Unfortunately, a growing population on earth has led to unsustainable use of land on earth through deforestation, land degradation and loss of natural habitats. Microbes play a key role in the terrestrial ecosystem, providing symbiotic relationships with plants and animals alike. Human use of land has led to the exhaustion of nutrients in soils, contamination of land, and a reduction in biodiversity.

Microbes provide a powerful tool to tackle many of these issues, such as dealing with contaminated water and soils through bioremediation and restoring nutrients to soils. Applying our knowledge of microbes will be essential in restoring the biodiversity of affected ecosystems. Greater research into the microbiomes present on land is essential, as this will allow researchers to develop strategies to protect these invisible networks which support a healthy environment. Understanding how microbes impact human life on land could all have a positive impact, by increasing crop production, repurposing areas of land and improving microbial biodiversity in soil, land, and water.

The Dorothy Jones Prize will be awarded to a scientist who has used microbiology to make a significant contribution to our understanding of terrestrial life, rhizospheres and soil microbiomes, or to the preservation of our global ecosystem. This may be through a significant discovery, an inspiring story, or any other contribution that is deserving of recognition on the international stage.

Dr Dorothy Jones was elected President of Applied Microbiology International from 1989 to 1991 and was the third female President of the Society. In her time as research fellow at the University of Leicester, Dr Dorothy Jones revolutionised the way bacteria were classified by developing new methods for the identification and classifications of microorganisms.