The Wyndham Prize Competition was instituted by the Society in 1985, and first awarded in 1986. It is named in honour of the late Professor Cyril Wyndham, who was an internationally renowned South African exercise and heat stress physiologist.The award is presented to a young researcher for the best oral presentation in the Physiological Sciences at the Annual PSSA Conference.
The competition constitutes one of the highlights of the PSSA Conference. It offers Physiology Departments within Southern Africa an opportunity to showcase the success of their postgraduate programmes; while also giving young researchers their first experience of presenting and defending their work in front of a supportive, but competitive, international audience. Furthermore, it affords young researchers an indispensable opportunity to compare and discuss their work with their peers at other universities.
The Wyndham competition is important not only because of the prestige involved, but the winner also becomes eligible to be considered for a sponsored trip to the next International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) Congress.
Rules of the Wyndham Competition
- The competition is open to young researchers in the Physiological Sciences who are registered as STUDENTS at any tertiary institution in Southern Africa.
- Entrants for the Competition may not be older than 30 years of age at the time of the competition, nor may they already be in possession of a PhD (or equivalent) degree.
- Tenured or full-time lecturers or researchers at a tertiary education institution are excluded from the competition. Bursary holders and students in temporary research assistant posts are, however, not excluded.
- The entrant must be the principal investigator of the project to be presented at the competition. This must be confirmed in writing by the Head of the Department that is sponsoring the student’s participation in the Wyndham Competition.
- Entrants need not be members of the PSSA. Entrants must, however, be bona fide students at a tertiary institution in Southern Africa. This must also be confirmed in writing by the Head of the Department that is sponsoring the student’s participation in the Wyndham Competition.
- Only one presentation per entrant per PSSA Conference is permitted for competition purposes.
- A student may enter the Wyndham competition at more than one conference of the PSSA (i.e. participation in the competition is not limited to one year per lifetime), BUT previous winners of the Wyndham competition are not allowed to participate in the competition for a second time.
- Each entrant presents a 10 minute oral presentation, with 5 minutes of question time.
- The presentations are judged by a panel of no fewer than 6 judges, who are members of the PSSA (but may include prominent scientists who have been invited to the PSSA conference as guest speakers). The judges are appointed by the Council of the PSSA. They are chosen for their current active involvement in research and the supervision of postgraduate students.
- Presentations are judged according to the following criteria:
- Construction of the presentation: how well is the story told? 1 Judge
- Background insight and motivation for the study 1 Judge
- Methods (originality/appropriateness and correctness) 1 Judge
- Suitability and clarity of analysis and display of results 1 Judge
- Discussion and response to questions 2 Judges
- Each judge evaluates the same aspect (and only that one aspect) of each of the presentations. The overall impression of a presentation is therefore generated by the results of all the judges’ evaluations: each judge listing his/her top 5 candidates in order of merit with the top candidate receiving a score of 1, the next a score of 2, and so on. Anyone not placed is given a score of 6. A candidate’s score is the sum of the scores awarded to that candidate by the six judges. The winner is the candidate with the lowest score.
- In this manner each judge’s opinion carries a weight equal to that of each of the others, and no single judge can monopolize the awarding system.
- The quality or contents of the abstract, which describes the candidate’s work, shall NOT be taken into account when selecting the winner of the Wyndham Competition. The reason for this is that many of the candidates are Honours students who only start their projects in March, and have to submit their abstracts for the conference before the results of their experiments become available.
- In general only one winner is selected from the list of entrants. Only the winner’s name is made public.
- The prize consists of a certificate, a cash prize, and the possibility of being sponsored (by the PSSA) to attend the next IUPS Congress.
- The selection of the Wyndham Prize Winner who will attend the next IUPS Congress will be coordinated by the Council of the PSSA. Preference will be given to the candidate who has made, or is taking definite steps towards making, a career in Physiology.
- No person may enter both the Wyndham and the Johnny van der Walt competitions during a particular year. However, anyone may give additional oral or poster presentations, for non-competition purposes, at any given conference of the PSSA.