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Assembly on Critical Care International Early Career Achievement Award

Meet the 2023 Winner: Bronwen Connolly, PhD, MSc, BSc(Hons)


Bronwen Connolly is a critical care physiotherapist by profession, and Senior Lecturer in Critical Care at Queen’s University Belfast, UK.  Dr Connolly received her undergraduate physiotherapy degree (1999) from King’s College London, UK, Master of Science degree (2006) from the University of Brighton, UK, and Doctor of Philosophy (2014) from King’s College London, UK.  She is the recipient of three previous UK National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Fellowships (Doctoral, Postdoctoral, Clinical Trials), and her research interests focus on acute respiratory and rehabilitation physiotherapy, the recovery, long-term outcome, and survivorship of post critical illness patients, and clinical trial methodology around complex rehabilitation interventions.  More recent developments include studies exploring clinician burnout.

Dr Connolly is currently Chief Investigator of the MARCH trial, leading a multi-professional team delivering an NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme-funded, multi-centre randomized controlled trial investigating effectiveness of mucoactive drugs in acute respiratory failure (https://fundingawards.nihr.ac.uk/award/NIHR130454).  Other projects include development of a core outcome set for trials of physical rehabilitation in critical illness (PRACTICE), and longitudinal evaluation of burnout in physiotherapists working in critical care during the COVID-19 pandemic (BRAVE).  Dr Connolly is responsible for undergraduate and postgraduate research training and supervision to multi-professional clinicians and scientists, and is teaching Faculty on undergraduate medicine and science programmes.   

Dr Connolly serves on the NIHR Critical Care National Specialty Group (Physiotherapy representative) and the UK Critical Care Research Group (Vice-Chair).  In 2020 she became the first non-medic Director of Research at the UK Intensive Care Society.  She has been a member of the ATS (Critical Care Assembly) for 12 years, having previously served on the Program Committee (2019-2022) and Nominating Committee (2022).


This award recognizes a junior faculty with their primary appointment outside of the United States or Canada with exemplary achievements in a scientific area of interest to the Assembly and who demonstrates clear promise for a future of sustained productivity. Nominees from low-middle income countries are encouraged, and nominators should describe the environment of the nominee. The awardee will be honored at the CC Assembly gathering at the ATS International Conference. There is a small monetary award for this recognition (note: this will not cover expenses of travel to the meeting).


Candidate should be:

  • An active clinician or investigator in critical care medicine within ~10 years of completion of training (i.e., fellowship or terminal doctoral degree, whichever was completed/awarded latest). The bulk of the awardee’s research should have been performed outside the United States or Canada.
  • A CCA member (primary or secondary).
  • Contributions to the CC Assembly in the form of committee participation or leadership, promoting CCA diversity, and/or otherwise advancing the CCA’s mission will be viewed favorably.

The nomination package must include a nomination letter touching on all four scoring metrics (see below scoring rubric) from one or more members of ATS describing why the award is merited. Nominators should note in their letter any extenuating circumstances affecting the nominee. The curriculum vitae from the candidate must also be included with the nomination packet. Unawarded nominations from prior years do not carry over and should be resubmitted; previous awardees are not eligible for the same award.

Example Nomination Letters:

Bronwen Connolly, PhD, MSc, BSc(Hons), 2023 Awardee

Emma J Ridley, 2022 Awardee

Scoring Rubric:

 Applicants are scored on 4 criteria using a 1-5 rating system (with 1 being the best) across the below categories. In the event that none of the nominees in a given category receive an average score ≤3 , the Planning Committee may choose to defer granting an award in that category that year. If the Planning Committee does not receive any eligible nominations in a given category (e.g., CCA member, active clinician/investigator for roughly the stated time frame), the Committee may choose to nominate an individual, who must be unanimously approved by all members in order to receive the award.

  • Scientific Contributions/Products (which may include: research articles, data, reagents, software, and intellectual property)
  • Teaching/Mentoring/Educational/Advocacy Contributions
  • Participation in Assembly and ATS Activities (administrative, committees, workshops etc.)
  • Overall impact/impression of dossier submitted for award application


Nominate Here


View Previous Award Recipients

2022 - Emma Ridley

2021 - Joanne McPeake, PhD, MSc

2020 - Fernando Zampieri, MD, PhD

2019 - No Award Given

2018 - No Award Given

2017 - Theogene Twagirumugabe, MD, MMed, FCCM