RMS Early Career Award

The annual Early Career Award recognises the achievements of an outstanding early career scientist in their contribution to the imaging community. This contribution may be through an impressive application of imaging to research, development of imaging or image analysis tools, an inspiring public engagement initiative, or a demonstration of exceptional support to other imaging scientists. We welcome applications from scientists working in any discipline of microscopy, flow cytometry, or data analysis in imaging

The 2022 award-winner will receive the RMS Early Career Award, a £100 cash prize sponsored by the RMS Early Career Committee, and the opportunity to deliver a keynote presentation at Microscopy: Advances, Innovation, Impact 2022, where they will be presented with the award.

If you have any questions regarding this award, please contact jade@rms.org.uk.


Any person undertaking work in the field of microscopy/flow cytometry and belonging to one of the following categories is eligible for this award*: 

  • Current undergraduate/postgraduate/Masters/PhD students; or
  • Within 8 years of starting work or studies in a microscopy-related field (excluding career gaps) 

Applicants must be based within the UK/EU. 

*entries from applicants outside the above criteria will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Early Career Committee. 

Judging criteria: 

  • Impact of the research/contribution 
    How many people does this contribution impact; will it have ongoing impact; what is the form of impact (inspiring, empowering, enabling, life-changing)?  
  • Complexity of the research/contribution 
    The level of difficulty of the research/barriers to the contribution within the context of career stage. 
  • Novelty of the research/contribution 
    The uniqueness of the research/contribution, extent to which it builds on existing practises/research, the originality of thinking.
  • Presentation skill 
    Clarity, content, engagement and creative use of the time and visuals. 

2022 Winner

Katherine Paine.jpg

Katherine Paine, University of York

Katherine, who began her PhD in 2018 at Chris MacDonald’s laboratory, was chosen in recognition of the novel approaches in imaging and cytometry she has brought to her studies on the regulation of cell surface membrane proteins.
Katherine’s work
Cell surface membrane proteins perform diverse and critical functions and are spatially and temporally regulated by membrane trafficking pathways. These trafficking pathways are evolutionary conserved from yeast to humans. MacDonald lab uses yeast as a model organism to study these pathways.
It became clear from Katherine’s initial studies that although standard confocal microscopy could be used to visualise some of the processes she was interested in, there were also limitations. She then helped optimise a suite of imaging and cytometry approaches to study surface proteins. This includes Airyscan2, structured illumination (SIM) and photoactivated localisation microscopy (PALM); all of which can be coupled to bespoke microfluidic exchange systems.
Katherine is also in the process of optimising a high throughput method to measure Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) in yeast using robotics and flow cytometry.

2021 Winner

Kevin Whitley, University of Newcastle

Kevin Whitley began his post-doc in 2017, sharing his time between the groups of Cees Dekker (at TU Delft, Netherlands) and Séamus Holden (Newcastle University, UK). The idea for his project was to combine the expertise of both groups (nanofabrication and microfluidics from Dekker lab, bacteriology and custom high-resolution microscopy from Holden lab) to study the dynamics of the essential bacterial division protein FtsZ.

His work incorporated both nanofabrication and microscopy elements, enabling the development of a method to image bacterial division proteins in high-resolution while perturbing them rapidly with antibiotics. This approach, and other methods, has enabled the discovered key roles of the essential cytoskeletal protein FtsZ in cell division and the dynamics underlying these roles.

He is currently based at Newcastle, continuing to investigate the dynamics of bacterial division at a molecular and cellular level using nanofabrication, microfluidics, and high-resolution microscopy. He is also continuing to develop methods for bacterial microscopy through instrument control and image analysis software.