The BABAO Mentorship Award

BABAO presents an award for mentorship to a member who has inspired and helped a person/persons as a mentor. The awardees are recognized for consistently providing support, guidance and strong direction to undergraduate and graduate students within higher education, and having had a significant impact upon the development of the careers of junior colleagues within higher education, museums, commercial archaeology, and other relevant institutions/organisations.

BABAO has established two awards for members (the other being the Service Award last given in 2018). Requests for nominations are in alternate years, with the award being presented at the BABAO Annual Conference. The BABAO Trustees will consider applications, but if any Trustee member is nominated that Trustee will no review the nominations for that round.


At the 2021 Annual Meeting, BABAO's second Mentorship Award was awarded to Dr Anwen Caffell.

Dr Anwen Caffell

Caffell Anwen3

Anwen Caffell has been affiliated to Durham University for a number of years, and throughout this time has supported and guided a large number of osteoarchaeologists, bioarchaeologists, and forensic anthropologists. Many of these individuals are now passing on Anwen’s wealth of knowledge and understanding by educating the upcoming generation of scientists whether in a commercial, academic, or non-government role. Anwen is thoroughly deserving of recognition by BABAO for not only her longstanding service to education in supporting students, but also her commitment to BABAO in her various committee roles. 

At the bare bones, Anwen is an osteologist, but with experience that has impacted on so many other individuals who are working in much wider disciplines. Anwen’s skillset in assessing skeletal remains is immense. Her vast knowledge and extreme attention to detail has been the standard that her students aspire to work towards, and her unfailing enthusiasm to share her phenomenal osteological knowledge and experiences in higher education and commercial spheres (in her unique Anwen style of patience, compassion, and good humour) makes her an exceptional and inspiring mentor. Because of this, the students Anwen taught continually seek to be supportive as a mentor to the new generation of students and they judge the quality of their work by Anwen’s example. 

Beyond the academic environment, Anwen has been encouraging. She has provided countless recommendations for scholarships and jobs to those she has taught, and this has been instrumental to a number of individuals who are now working and progressing in the field as a result. Anwen also encourages commercial experience, incorporating students work into her own and informing teaching through the work she has undertook. 

On a personal level, Anwen has been compassionate, patient, and kind. It does not matter how small the question or big the problem is, or whether it is personal or professional. Anwen has always found the time to listen and help, and she possesses a very unique attribute as she can make a student feel important, supported, and heard. 


We cannot overstate the impact that Anwen has had on her student’s education, career, and development as professionals. Like so many others, we doubt that we would be anywhere without Anwen’s continuing support. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Anwen, not only for all that she has taught us, but how she also taught us to teach it. Anwen is truly deserving of the BABAO mentorship award. 

Dr. David Errickson (nominator), and supported by Dr. Leslie Quade, Dr. Claire Hodson, Jordan Snyder, Dr. Kayla Crowder, Dr. Benn Penny-Mason, and Dr. Sophie Newman. 


At the 2019 Annual Meeting at the Natural History Museum, BABAO's first Mentorship Award was awarded to Dr Pia Nystrom.

Dr Pia Nystrom

Pia2Pia 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

Dr Elizabeth Craig-Atkins (nominator)