At the 2019 Annual Meeting at the Natural History Museum, BABAO’s first Mentorship Award was awarded to Dr Pia Nystrom.
Pia Nystrom has provided unsurpassed support, guidance and mentorship for an entire generation of Biological Anthropologists who have undertaken postgraduate training at the University of Sheffield. She is unquestionably deserving of recognition by BABAO for her longstanding service to education in our field and the commitment to supporting students in their career development.
Pia has taught human osteology, palaeoanthropology and primatology in the Department of Archaeology (previously Archaeology and Prehistory) at the University of Sheffield since 1995. A significant proportion of BABAO members have been her students at one time – more than 350 Masters students have been guided by her through the MSc Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology alone, and she has acted as supervisor or advisor for countless doctoral projects. Many of Pia’s students are now in high-profile and senior roles within our field. Her supportive influence is also felt widely as her students now replicate the good practices they learned from her to teach a new generation of scholars.
Her incredibly broad interests and expertise have formed the basis of Pia’s excellent teaching over the last 30 years. Her encyclopaedic knowledge of our field, her high standards and her passion for the proper teaching of human anatomy through anatomical dissection have all influenced a whole generation. However, it is also her personal commitment to each and every student’s own personal and career development which stands out as special, and for which Pia truly deserves this award.
Pia is a passionate and committed mentor. She is first and foremost an advocate for her students, placing their needs and requirements above all. While the pressures on academics in teaching roles have changed over the years, Pia has always stood up for the quality of teaching and the individual experience of the student. She would never compromise these core aspects of learning for recruitment targets or financial gain, and as such has been a consistent advocate for quality in higher education.
Pia’s caring approach to mentorship had guided many students through the challenges of postgraduate education. She has supported students to overcome both academic struggles and personal difficulties with kindness, sympathy and courage. She has maintained her passion for education without wavering and is a true inspiration to those of us who have begun our own careers alongside her.
There are comparatively few accolades for academics who have made exceptional teaching their expertise, and fewer still for those who have made such a significant contribution to the field through their support of others as Pia has. Therefore I would like to nominate Pia Nystrom for the BABAO mentorship award for thirty years of commitment to mentorship in higher education and as recognition of the considerable part she has played in the achievements of so many of the organisation’s members.
Text prepared by Dr Elizabeth Craig-Atkins (nominator).