Royal Microscopical Society Section Awards

The RMS Section Awards recognise scientific achievements in each of the Science Sections.

How to submit a nomination for a Section Award

  • All awards are open to applicants worldwide.
  • Applicants may self-nominate or be nominated by a colleague or collaborator.
  • Applications and nominations should be submitted to Debbie Hunt stating which Section Award the applicant is being nominated for.
  • Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and a letter to state they wish to be considered for a particular Section Award to Debbie Hunt or nominators should submit a curriculum vitae for the nominated candidate. 
  • The curriculum vitae should include a statement (maximum length 1 page) outlining the merits of the candidate and their suitability for the award. 
  • The award will normally be made to nominees who have engaged in independent research for less than 10 years.    
  • Nominated candidates will be contacted after the closing date to confirm that they are happy for their nomination to be considered.
  • In each case the individual relevant committee will consider applications and the winner will receive complimentary registration to the meeting where they will be presented with their award.  They may be invited to produce an article for infocus magazine

Information about our 2021 award recipients has now been included below, congratulations to all our winners. 

Five of the six winners will be invited to mmc2021 to present a talk, and to receive their award.  The sixth award winner (Flow Cytometry) will be invited to give a talk at the FlowCytometryUK Meeting in the Autumn of 2021.

  • Agar Scientific

    The Alan Agar Award for Electron Microscopy is generously supported by Agar Scientific.

Alan Agar Award for Electron Microscopy - Sponsored by Agar Scientific
  • The aim of the award is to celebrate and mark outstanding contributions to electron microscopy in the field of physical or life sciences. The winner is usually expected to be early-mid career stage.
  • 2015 Winner
    • Matthieu Kociak, Universite Paris-Sud

      Dr Kociak has developed a new variety of Electron Microscopy (EM), capable of performing cathodoluminescence (CL) experiments simultaneously with the electron microscopy. This has been dubbed as ‘the beginning of a unification of optical and electron microscopy.’

      Dr Kociak and the team he has built over the past 10 years has played a leading role in the emergence of electrons in a STEM technique for nanooptics. This has involved both theoretical and experimental developments, important technical developments designing and producing innovative CL-compatible sample holders and stages. The unification of two core fields of microscopy – optical and electronic – are currently underway, largely driven by the developments pioneered and pursued by Dr Kociak.

  • 2017 Winner
    • Professor Angus Kirkland, University of Oxford

      Dr Kirkland is known for being an electron microscopist with an incredibly wide-ranging understanding and knowledge of the field. Some of his most high-profile research has been in exit-wave reconstruction. His arguably most notable work is the development of super-resolved exit-wave reconstruction methods through which, using an aberration-corrected instrument, he demonstrated a remarkable improvement in resolution to 78 picometres at 200 kV, more than 40% better than the axial limit. As published in Science, Dr Kirkland characterised of individual 2 x 2 and 3 x 3 atom nanocrystals encapsulated in a single walled carbon nanotube solved using exit-wave reconstruction to locate single I and K atoms.
      Dr Kirkland was the first to clearly develop a comprehensive understanding of signal and noise transfer and the effects of this on the performance of electron image detectors.
      His innovative work on detector characterisation showed that the power spectrum of an evenly illuminated white-noise image is in general not equal to the modulation transfer function (MTF) and that the conventional techniques to measure the MTF give over-optimistic estimations of the MTF.
      Dr Kirkland has shown that he is able to fully appreciate, identify, contribute and disseminate entirely new developments across the broad field of electron microscopy to both the European and international community.

  • 2019 Winner
    • Dr Wanda Kukulski from MRC LMB, Cambridge

      Wanda Kukulski is one of the rising stars in the field of Biomedical Electron Microscopy and has made significant contributions especially in the field of Correlative Light Electron Microscopy.

      Wanda studied Biology at the University of Basel, Switzerland, before undertaking a PhD in biophysics at Basel in the group of Prof. Andreas Engel. The title of her thesis was: “Structure and functions of Aquaporins”. During this time she published a 5Å structure of the plant aquaporin SoPIP2;1. She stayed at Basel, at the M. E. Müller Institute, Biozentrum, for her first postdoctoral position before moving to EMBL Heidelberg in 2008 on an EIPOD position. She joined the groups of John Briggs in the Structural and Computational Biology Unit and Marko Kaksonen from the Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit. This combination turned out to be a very fruitful one.

      It is in this period where she did her seminal work in the field of Correlative Light Electron Microscopy developing techniques that have been an example to follow in the field. Through the introduction of fiducial markers she was able to generate a very precise overlay of the LM and EM data, much more precise than was possible to that date. She then used that technology to combine light microscopy with high-resolution electron tomography and decipher the very early steps of clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Her 2 most exciting papers were published in Journal of Cell Biology and Cell.

      In 2015 she moved to the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge to set up her own group.  

  • 2021 Winner
    • Dr Alexandra Pacureanu, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

      Dr Alexandra Pacureanu’s work has impacted on the biomedical research community in profound ways, altering the way we view the possibilities of high resolution imaging of soft biological tissues with synchrotron radiation.

      She developed and applied X-ray holographic nano-tomography on the ID16A nano-imaging beamline at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). The technique is unique in enabling imaging of (relatively) large intact tissue samples (mm scale) with similar contrast and structural resolution to electron microscopy (EM). Samples may be imaged at room or cryo temperatures, and are often stained with heavy metals and embedded in resin using the same methods as used in EM. Indeed, much of Alexandra’s work incorporates X-ray imaging into correlative light and EM workflows. 

      During the recent long shutdown phase at ESRF, Alexandra quickly built her standing in the biomedical research community, at some of the most prestigious research institutes in Europe and the US. She focused her biological question on the brain, in the area of Connectomics, where light and electron microscopy struggle to combine the large fields of view required to follow individual neurons with the resolution required to image individual synapses.

      Chair of the RMS Electron Microscopy Section Dr Lucy Collinson, and Chair of the X-Ray Focused Interest Group Dr Liz Duke, said: “Alexandra possesses that rare skill of being fully conversant in X-ray synchrotron optics and beamline and experiment design, whilst also contributing fundamental research at an international level in biology and particularly neuroscience. The technique she has pioneered looks set to replace both light and electron microscopy for a swathe of this critical scientific effort. It is a privilege and a delight to announce her as the recipient of this award.”


Award for Light Microscopy
  • For outstanding scientific achievements applying or developing new forms of light microscopy
  • 2015 Winner
    • Dr Susan Cox, Kings College London

      During her career, Dr Cox has developed a new form of super resolution light microscopy called 3B – Bayesian analysis of Bleaching & Blinking, a method which analyses data in which many overlapping fluorophores undergo bleaching and blinking events, giving the structure at enhanced resolution, 3B significantly improves resolution of live specimens. Her contribution to localisation microscopy, using blinking and other probes, is outstanding.  Her software is now used world-wide to handle data from localisation methods of microscopy and she is becoming the clear voice of rational planning in this field, defining its limits and possibilities for the large number of people who are now entering it. Dr. Cox has used 3B and other superresolution imaging approaches to explore a variety of biological questions, including several related to podosome and RhoA signaling along the leading edge of crawling cells. Dr Cox now runs her own group at King’s College London and has continued to provide new directions for improving superresolution imaging techniques. Dr Cox is widely recognized for her contributions in this area by the broader scientific community and is very generous in providing her tools and knowledge-3B can now be readily downloaded, with Image J plugins and source codes for its performance and it has been noted by many how clear, concise and engaging Dr Cox’s lectures are.

  • 2017 Winner
    • Dr Jan Huisken, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

      Dr Huisken is an accomplished biophysical scientist who has contributed novel imaging tools that have enabled new and powerful observations of developmental and physiological processes.
      Along with his co-workers, Dr Huisken introduced light sheet microscopy (or selective plane illumination microscopy) to the field of biological imaging in 2004. Since then, SPIM has replaced confocal and two-photon microscopy in many applications, and revolutionized in vivo whole embryo imaging.
      Dr Huisken has pioneered sample preparation for long time lapse experiments and has expanded SPIM in a number of directions for a number of different applications, including a high-speed instrument for cardiac imaging. He has also exploited the bright-field contrast of unstained specimens to obtain in vivo tomographic reconstructions of the 3D anatomy of zebrafish.
      Unlike most microscopy laboratories, each microscope that Dr Huisken builds is specifically designed to address a particular biological question that requires cutting-edge observations not possible on a commercial microscope.

  • 2019 Winner
    • Dr Suliana Manley from EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland

      Suliana Manley began her career as a group leader in a Tenure Track position, which she started in 2009 at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. She was recently promoted to a tenured associate professorship, in 2016. She is a physicist whose research has been shaped for the past 10+ years by a strong interest in biology. Her main interest is in developing super-resolution imaging, where she has made several major contributions to the field. As a postdoctoral fellow with Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz at the NIH, she first started working in the field of super-resolution imaging. There, she developed a multiplexed single molecule tracking method, single particle tracking PALM (sptPALM), in a collaboration with Eric Betzig’s group. 
      At the EPFL, her group has developed several high-throughput technologies for super-resolution microscopy, including the first automation of a PALM setup to study bacterial cell cycle, and large field-of-view flat illumination. These methods have allowed important structural insights into the bacterial division machinery and revealed a novel structure formed by yeast Torc1 proteins.

  • 2021 Winner
    • Professor Philipp Kukura, University of Oxford

      Philipp is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford. Throughout his career to date, he has demonstrated remarkable ingenuity, productivity and a boldness to push the limits of what the biophysics community generally believes can be done with optical techniques. His work is opening up entirely new possibilities in the way we use light microscopy in the life sciences. After breakthroughs in spectroscopy and nano-optics, before he began his current role as a group leader, Philipp and his group have now developed a completely new way of measuring mass using a light microscope - mass photometry.

      Mass photometry, the accurate and highly resolved measurement of the mass of individual biomolecules and their complexes in solution, is truly groundbreaking. It represents a single-molecule optical method that is both universal and specific - in that no labelling is required and the information obtained provides information on the identity and structure of the biomolecule. Moreover, the ability to study individual molecules removes ensemble averaging so that heterogeneity, which is of immense importance in biological function, regulation and intervention, can be directly assessed.

      Since its introduction in April 2018, the group has explored the immense applicability of mass photometry for assessing sample purity for structural biology and in vitro science in general, expanded it to nucleic acids and membrane proteins, as well as demonstrating new approaches to quantifying protein-protein interactions. These studies, together with the fundamental concepts behind mass photometry, will likely make this discovery a truly outstanding one in the context of light microscopy.

      These conceptual breakthroughs took place while also maximising the impact of the discovery. Only two months after the original publication, Philipp founded Refeyn Ltd. together with Justin Benesch, Daniel Cole and Gavin Young, with the mission to make the technology available to the broader research community. This demonstrates both the value of the underlying technology and a commitment to ensuring its wide dissemination and impact.

      Chair of the RMS Light Microscopy Section, Professor Gail McConnell said: “It is with great pleasure that we award this medal to Philipp, whose many achievements make him uniquely suitable for the award. “He has brought forward a completely new application of light microscopy well beyond what we imagined possible only five years ago, with immense future potential in life science research and diagnostics in the future.”


Award for Innovation in Applied Microscopy for Engineering and Physical Sciences
  • For outstanding scientific achievements in applying microscopy in the fields of engineering and physical sciences
  • 2015 Winner
    • Professor Angus Wilkinson, University of Oxford

      Professor Wilkinson has been pivotal in the development and application of High Resolution Electron Backscatter Diffraction (HR-EBSD) This technique extracts residual elastic strains and lattice rotation with very high precision from real materials. This work has been highly innovative and has extended the capabilities of the laboratory tool, increasing its competitiveness with more expensive synchrotron techniques and providing information that correlates with other microscopy techniques. Professor Wilkinson continues to innovate the technique and apply it to new and interesting materials science problems and solving real challenges such as the physical understanding of failure of components.
      HR-EBSD is now applied to solve real issues in a wide range of industrial fields, such as aerospace engineering, nuclear power, and semiconductor manufacturing producing reliable results, allowing the industry to experience real benefits from this innovative technique developed by Professor Wilkinson.

  • 2017 Winner
    • Dr Sarah Haigh, University of Manchester

      Dr Haigh has made ground-breaking contributions to the development of techniques for the study of two-dimensional materials and nanomaterials by scanning transmission electron microscopy.
      Dr Haigh performed the first atomic-scale cross-sectional imaging of 2D heterostructures, demonstrating that interfaces could be made atomically sharp. This insight helped improve the electronic mobility in graphene sheets and provided motivation for producing more complex stacks, establishing the rapidly growing field of van der Waals heterostructure devices. More recently, this approach has been applied to the imaging of microfluidic channels.
      She was also able to grant a deeper understanding of the irradiation damage threshold in nuclear reactor components using in-situ observations of ion-induced defect formation in nuclear graphite and graphene.
      Dr Haigh is also passionate about the development of fundamental microscopy techniques, being a pioneer of energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) STEM tomography. Among other key progressions, she has developed a new technique for accurately analysing the composition of gamma prime precipitates in a nickel superalloy, enabling a deeper understanding of precipitate coarsening effects.

  • 2019 Winner
    • Dr Caterina Ducati from DMSM, Cambridge

      Caterina Ducati is an outstanding electron microscopist, with world-leading expertise and >25years experience in the evaluation of the functional properties of materials at the nanoscale. Caterina did a Physics Degree at Milano, Italy, before moving to the Dept of Engineering, Cambridge to do a PhD in Nanostructured Carbon for Electrochemistry applications. She then moved to the Dept of Materials Science and Metallurgy, Cambridge University, and was awarded two prestigious Royal Society Research Fellowships (Dorothy Hodgkin 2004, and URF, 2007) to expand her research. She was appointed to a permanent Staff position in 2009, and is currently a Reader in Nanomaterials. She also was awarded a prestigious ERC Starting Investigator award from the EU.
      Caterina blends development of both world-class electron microscopy/spectroscopy techniques, with applications to materials and devices for realworld applications. From her initial work on nanocarbons for electrochemistry, Caterina has developed a highly respected group in Cambridge working on functional composites, in particular for energy/photovoltaic applications, including Quantum dot solar cells, nanoparticles for energy capture and storage, perovskites, growth of carbon nanotubes and graphene composites. Caterina’s work has been published in over 155 international peer-reviewed journal articles and letters (including Nature), mostly in the field of Materials Science and Applied Physics, with average citation per item is >40, 16 papers cited more than 100 times, and a current index of 41 (28 April 2016, Web of Science).
      Caterina is the Teaching Director/Core Committee Member of the Doctoral Training Centre in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (nanoDTC), and Director of the MPhil in Micro and Nanotechnology Enterprise (Cambridge University). She holds two patents, and is Co- Director of Cambridge Solar Environmental Solution Ltd., a spin-off that manages the exploitation of the IP resulting from invention Kum-2667 (with Cambridge Enterprise). 

  • 2021 Winner
    • Dr Wing Chung Tsoi, Swansea University

      Dr Wing Chung Tsoi is a Senior Lecturer at Swansea University. He started his independent research in late 2014, and within a few years, his group is now internationally leading the development of new and advanced Raman system-based techniques.

      His most representative work “Variations of Infiltration and Electronic Contact in Mesoscopic Perovskite Solar Cells Revealed by High‐Resolution Multi‐Mapping Techniques” published in 2019, shows how to modify a commercial Raman system in a simple way to enable it to perform multiple types of mapping at the same sample location and simultaneously. This new capability advances understanding of how local morphology (e.g. local defects) relates to the local properties and function of devices (e.g. printable solar cells) and can help to improve the performance of the devices.

      The technique already has excellent impacts. One of the mapping techniques (photocurrent) has helped Renishaw to develop a software for it, which is now commercially available. The technique has also helped to attract grant to support an EngD studentship from Armor, a leading organic solar cells company.

      Another advanced development led by Dr Tsoi, is the demonstration of in-situ Raman spectroscopy to study stability of materials/devices (e.g. printable solar cells). This research – ‘Probing the degradation and homogeneity of embedded perovskite semiconducting layers in photovoltaic devices by Raman spectroscopy’ - was published at Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. Here, the gas environment, temperature and humidity can be controlled in-situ to advance understanding on the effects of environmental factors to the stability of the films/devices (particularly “embedded” layers). The paper was selected as ‘Paper of the Month’ by Linkam Scientific.

      Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Committee Professor Roland Kröger said: “Dr Tsoi has become internationally renowned for his groundbreaking work in this field and thoroughly deserves this award. The easy integration of the multiple mapping technique with the in-situ measurements is a very powerful development in advancing research for materials/devices sciences.”

AFM and SPM Award
  • For outstanding progress made in the field of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM)
  • 2015 Winner
    • Dr Sergei Kalinin, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

      Dr Kalinin has made transformational contributions to the field of scanning probe microscopy that have established the electromechanics of nanoscale systems as a new and exciting field of research.
      Dr Kalinin and his colleagues have laid the foundations for this new field through the development of revolutionary SPM techniques that have led in turn to some crucial discoveries in physics, chemistry and materials science. Dr Kalinin’s work provides the basis for entirely new approaches to the study of energy transformation, phase transitions and electrochemical reactivity on the level of single defects and atoms in solids. His techniques have been widely adopted across the SPM community, demonstrating Dr Kalinin’s work as original, innovative and transformational.

  • 2017 Winner
    • Dr Bart Hoogenboom, University College London

      Since being a PhD student, Dr Hoogenboom has made important contributions to the development and application of scanning probe microscopy to a wide range of scientific areas.
      Since establishing his research group in 2007, Dr Hoogenboom has made a number of achievements in the life sciences including visualisation of the DNA double helix which can help make important breakthroughs in gene expression and regulation. His group developed new AFM methodology and data analysis to probe inside the channel of nuclear pore complexes, offering great nanaotechnological, physical and biological relevance. His group have also started a programme on real-time imaging of membrane degradation by antimicrobial peptides, resulting in, amongst other discoveries, the most complete view to date of membrane pore formation by a family of bacterial toxins that play a role in diseases such as bacterial pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia.
      As well as his scientific accomplishments, Dr Hoogenboom played a pivotal role in setting up the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) atomic force microscopy facilities, enabling the LCN to boast world leading AFM capabilities, benefiting a wide community at both UCL and Imperial College. Dr Hoogenboom has transformed the training and use of these facilities, which has been key in promoting the use of scanning probe microscopy to a huge number of people, not just microscopists but the general public as well.

  • 2019 Winner
    • Dr Cyrus F. Hirjibehedin from MIT Lincoln Laboratory

      Cyrus F. Hirjibehedin has made outstanding contributions to the field of scanning probe microscopy (SPM) through his study of atomic-scale quantum nanostructures, revealing new insights into low-dimensional systems. As a Professor of Physics, Chemistry, and Nanotechnology at University College London (UCL), Dr Hirjibehedin applied SPM techniques to study how the local environment affects the properties of quantum nanostructures at the atomic scale. Results from his group are at the forefront of using SPM to study quantum phenomena at the interfaces of atomic layered materials, including novel Dirac materials like silicene as well as thin, polar insulators like copper nitride and sodium chloride. In recent papers in Nature Nanotechnology and Nature Communications, his group has explored how electronic coupling mediated by atomically thin insulators or molecular ligands can be used to tune the properties of a quantum spin system, enable novel forms of charge and spin transport (like magnetoresistance) through an atomic or molecular spin, and even induce bistable polarization in atomically-thin layers of rock salt. Dr Hirjibehedin has also applied SPM techniques to gain new insights on low dimensional systems, ranging from defects in traditional semiconductors like silicon to novel layered materials like graphene and silicene, including recent work published in Advanced Materials showing that silicene domain boundaries are a novel template for molecular assembly. Very recently, Dr Hirjibehedin has moved from UCL, while retaining an Honorary Professorship, to join the Quantum Information and Integrated Nanosystems group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory to apply his expertise in the field of quantum computing.
      The work that Dr Hirjibehedin has done at UCL built on his experience as a post-doctoral research assistant in the group of Dr Don Eigler and Dr Andreas Heinrich at the IBM Almaden Research Center. There, Dr Hirjibehedin pioneered the application of SPM to create spin systems with atomic precision and to perform inelastic electron tunnelling spectroscopy on them. This powerful way of accessing collective, low-energy spin excitations in artificially engineered nanostructures has revolutionised scanning probe studies of magnetism. Today, many world-leading groups utilise this uniquely powerful spectroscopic technique that is analogous to electron spin resonance yet applicable with single atom resolution – work that has received over 1000 citations – to study a broad range of quantum magnetic phenomena. At IBM, Dr Hirjibehedin also contributed to outstanding progress in the development of combined scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) studies of atomic manipulation that directly measured the force needed to move an individual atom across a surface.
      Internationally recognised as a leader in the SPM community, Dr Hirjibehedin has given invited talks at 58 conferences, including 2 plenary and 4 semi-plenary/keynote talks, as well as 89 invited seminars, including 10 colloquia, at universities, government research laboratories, and private companies around the world; he is also a member of the Programme Committee for the 2018 International Conference on Nanoscience + Technology (ICN+T), one of the preeminent conferences in the fields of scanning probe microscopy as well as nanoscience and nanotechnology. In the last few years, Dr Hirjibehedin has written “News & Views” articles in Nature Physics and Nature Nanotechnology to provide insights and perspectives on new work in the field of spinsensitive SPM, and was the guest co-editor for a special section in the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter highlighting recent advances in SPM. From 2010-2017, he also served on the Scientific Committee for the Advanced Microscopy Laboratory in Zaragoza, Spain, providing external advice for their SPM group.
      Dr Hirjibehedin has played a leading role in both the development of SPM techniques for the fabrication and spectroscopy of atomic-scale electronic and magnetic systems as well as in advancing the understanding of quantum nanostructures. 

  • 2021 Winner
    • Dr Laura Fumagalli, University of Manchester

      Dr Laura Fumagalli was appointed Lecturer at the University of Manchester in 2015 and is now a Reader. She is one of the world leaders in the development of atomic force microscopy to quantitatively measure the physical properties of materials at the nanoscale, in particular for the development of an AFM that can measure the dielectric properties of materials using electrostatic force microscopy with piconewton accuracy (L Fumagalli et at, Nature Materials, 2012, vol. 11, 808–816). She has an impressive list of publications, and has been the recipient of an ERC Consolidator grant entitled “Two-dimensional liquid-cell dielectric microscopy” since 2018.

      Perhaps her most important piece of work is the demonstration that water layers at interfaces have an unusually low dielectric constant – work which exemplifies the power of AFM for understanding complex physical phenomena at the nanoscale.

      It had been long suspected that the dielectric constant of water is lower at interfaces with other materials, but no one knew how much lower. Knowing the correct value of the dielectric constant of water at the nanoscale is important to a very wide range of problems, from electrochemistry to the development of new batteries, to understanding and modelling the function and structure of proteins, and DNA. The dielectric constant gives a measure of how well electric dipoles of molecules orient in an electric field. Water is a highly polar substance, so although the molecules can readily reorient in an electric field in the bulk, their alignment at surfaces can be inhibited, potentially diminishing the dielectric constant in interfacial water near surfaces compared with values found in bulk water. Establishing definite values for these effects had been out of reach of experiments.

      Laura led an experiment to measure water confined in nanoscale channels. The channels were fabricated using a technology developed by Andre Geim, by combining atomically flat crystals of graphite and hexagonal boron nitride. The channels were as thin as one nanometre in size so that they only accommodated a few layers of water. The value of dielectric constant measured in that very confined water is just two, a surprisingly anomalously low value which is in stark contrast to the anomalously high dielectric constant of bulk water, which is around 80.

      Section Chair Professor Sonia Contera said: “It is with great pleasure that we award this medal to Laura. She is truly one of the world’s leading figures in her field, and has done so much to advance the use of atomic force microscopy in measuring the physical properties of materials at the nanoscale.”

Award for Life Sciences
  • For outstanding scientific achievements applying microscopy in the field of cell biology
  • 2015 Winner
    • Dr John Briggs, European Molecular Biology Laboratory

      Dr Briggs is an excellent ambassador for the power of microscopy in modern life sciences research, with his work spanning both fields of virus particle structure and vesicle trafficking. He has made significant technical developments which have facilitated techniques such as time resolved electron tomography of clathrin coated vesicle formation, this along with other work of Dr Briggs have led to significant changes in the understanding of these pathways. 
      Dr Briggs has capitalized on his position as a group leader at the EMBL in Heidelberg to produce work of the highest quality. His contributions have been highly significant in both virology and membrane trafficking, giving new insight through quite exceptional high resolution imaging.
      Dr Briggs continues to work at the forefront of his field and is held in high regard by many of his peers and international leaders in these fields.

  • 2019 Winner
    • Dr Cristina Lo Celso from Imperial College London

      Cristina Lo Celso has made paradigm-shifting contributions to the understanding of the dynamic cellular processes regulating haematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow through the pioneering use of intravital microscopy. Cristina has demonstrated the rare ability to successfully tackle widely recognised technical challenges to advance the field of stem cell biology using advanced microscopy as well as novel image analysis and mathematical modelling.
      Cristina is an outstanding scientist, her work is published in high-impact journals and highly cited (43 publications, h index 23, overall over 1400 citations – Scopus source), she is internationally recognized as demonstrated by the steady stream of invitations to speak at prestigious institutions (Yale, Harvard, EMBL as examples) and scientific conferences, and has been awarded the 2017 Foulkes Foundation Medal in recognition of her outstanding achievements in biomedical research.
      Cristina investigates fundamental questions in stem cell biology, how a tissue regenerates over time and maintains organ functionality throughout a life-time, and has been focusing on the haematopoietic system as her experimental model. Traditional immunohistochemistry cannot reveal the dynamics of the blood stem cells and their interaction with stem cell niches, and these cells are inaccessible to direct observation because they reside in the bone marrow, deeply encased by bone. While working at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Cristina overcame this challenge using a combination of confocal and two photon intravital microscopy of living mouse skull bone marrow and could visualize for the first time highly dynamic blood stem cell behaviours (Lo Celso et al., Nature 2009).
      After starting her independent research group at Imperial College London in late 2009, she continued this approach and was instrumental in setting up intravital microscopy in the FILM imaging facility. Since then she has achieved a number of ground breaking discoveries, from uncovering changes in the behaviour of blood stem cells during steady state versus in response to natural infections (Rashidi et al., Blood 2014), to achieving systematic quantification of stem cell localization relative to other bone marrow components (Khorshed et al., Stem Cell Reports 2015). Most recently she has found the unexpected migratory and environment-agnostic behaviour of leukaemia cells throughout disease development. This work shows early bone marrow infiltration of leukaemia cells in response to chemotherapy and their ability to rapidly destroy the niches that would normally support healthy blood production (Hawkins et al., Nature 2016). Cristina adapted the imaging protocol to follow the same bone marrow areas over multiple days using implanted imaging windows. This work has deep implications for future development of improved leukaemia treatments, as Cristina has also shown that her discoveries using murine models hold true for human disease.
      Cristina has supervised and mentored 9 PhD students (6 ongoing) and 8 postdoctoral trainees (1 ongoing) one of whom is currently an independent group leader at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne, Australia. She is very active in scientific outreach giving media interviews, participating in science festivals and attracting women to STEM subjects. Cristina’s achievements in applying microscopy to live science as demonstrated by publications, mentorship and scientific citizenship is outstanding. 

  • 2021 Winner
    • Dr Yanlan Mao, University College London

      The award recognises Dr Mao’s important contribution to our understanding of how cells and tissues are shaped and organised during the developmental process.

      Since establishing her research team at University College London (UCL) five years ago, Dr Mao’s work has employed the use of advanced microscopy and biophysical methods to elucidate the role of mechanical forces in controlling tissue growth and regeneration - as well as defining how these forces influence gene expression and signalling pathways.

      Her pioneering use of imaging, coupled with analysis of mechanics, has provided new insight into the physical and mechanical properties of cells and tissues, and how this contributes to organ formation and shape in living organisms.

      Chair of the RMS Life Sciences Section, Dr Theresa Ward said: said: “Dr Mao is an extremely worthy recipient of our Life Sciences medal and my warmest congratulations go to her. Her innovative approaches combine elegant microscopy with probing of the biophysical environment, and she has yielded new insights which have had an impact across a range of different research fields.”

Award for Flow Cytometry
  • The aim of the award is to celebrate and mark outstanding scientific achievements to scientists applying flow cytometry in the field of immunology or cell biology
  • 2016 Winner
  • 2021 Winner
    • Gert Van Isterdael, VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research

      Gert has made, and continues to make, an enormous contribution to the discipline of flow cytometry and imaging cytometry in terms of his academic output, professional affiliations and teaching activities.  As Flow Cytometry Manager at VIB, Gert runs an internationally renowned and state of the art research facility that develops and applies many cytometric applications to study various aspects of biology and is actively involved in research projects for allergy, asthma and cancer.  Gert has been working with the VIB to develop the role of Flow Manager and establish a business strategy for the facility to provide state of the art services for the long-term benefit of the VIB scientists.

      Gert willingly and enthusiastically contributes to the flow cytometry community as an active member of ISAC, is currently on the Emerging Leaders program; and at meetings and conferences he chairs sessions, sits on forum panels and is an active participant in discussions.  Gert is specifically keen and actively involved in activities to develop the cytometry community’s skills in automated analysis technics.

      Chair of the RMS Flow Cytometry Section, Mr Derek Davies said: “Gert has become a hugely important figure within the Flow community, not only running a world-renowned facility but contributing in so many ways through his academic output, teaching activities, and desire to develop the skills of others. It is our great pleasure to announce him as the recipient of this award.”


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