Julia Barkans Wins International Excellence in Lab Leadership Award

Julia Barkans, The Head of the OU’s Laboratory Facilities, and IST member & CSci, has won an international award for ‘Excellence in Lab Leadership’. The Awards aim to recognise individuals who demonstrate exceptional leadership and management skills within their scientific organisations. Many congratulations from all at the IST.

OU Lab Award - J Barkans

The competition invited industry professionals to nominate themselves or their colleagues, to recognise the hard work and dedication to their role as a lab manager and entrants were required to demonstrate the success of their staff and organisation, and how the nominated lab manager played a starring role in that success. Entries were reviewed by a panel of industry leaders consisting of laboratory managers and leadership personnel who chose the five that offered the best evidence of an effective lab leader.

Julia is responsible for the lab infrastructure, managing the budget to run and maintain it, overseeing the all-important Health & Safety and managing 63 technical staff.

Julia said:

I was absolutely delighted. I am so honoured to have been nominated for this award by my team.

A good leader should lead by example. They should be enthusiastic, have integrity, empathy and always be inclusive. They should review process, however, not make changes for the sake of change. They will seek advice from the team and admit if they get something wrong. They will notice talent and nurture it. They will continually motivate and have pride in the team they have developed or are in the process of developing.

In adopting this practice, a good leader can direct, guide, and influence the behaviours they expect in others.

Julia and the other award winners will be honoured during the 2022 Leadership Summit in Baltimore, US, on 16–18 May, where they will accept their awards in front of a community of their peers.

Julia Barkans BSc MIScT CSci

Julia BarkansI started my career as a Medical Laboratory Scientific Officer, specializing first in histology and later immunology. This provided excellent training for me to apply and gain a research post in immunology at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London. I was then invited to join a group in the Dept of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the National Heart & Lung Inst (NHLI), Imperial College initially to develop a panel of antibodies to the eosinophil. Subsequently I supported multiple research programmes and the management of health and safety within NHLI as a member of the H&S Management team. I eventually took on the role of Laboratory Manager.

I joined the Biomedical Research Network at the Open University in 2007 as a Laboratory Manager. In 2015 was appointed to the role of Senior Laboratory Manager to manage the entire Science Faculties laboratory infrastructure.

I am currently Head of Laboratory Facilities at the Open University. We have about one hundred and ninety labs located throughout various buildings across the campus at Walton Hall based in Milton Keynes. All underpinned by a great EM and imaging suite plus electrical and engineering workshops. In addition to the research facilities, we have teaching laboratories for onsite and remote experimentation including a mars yard, wind tunnels, radio telescope and two optical robotic telescopes based on Mount Teide, Tenerife.

I am responsible for the lab infrastructure, managing the overall budget, overseeing the all-important Health & Safety and last but no means least supporting the technical team.

My current role involved restructuring the support teams into a cohesive unit. It is essential to recognise the invaluable contribution of technicians and yes, we ”really do make things happen”. The Open University is a founding member of the Technician Commitment, and I am an advocate of Professional Registration as a benchmark of technical skills and CPD. I attained Chartered Status with the IST in 2018 – An achievement which I am most proud of!!