Award for Innovation in Applied Microscopy for Engineering, Physical and Material Sciences

For outstanding scientific achievements in applying microscopy in the fields of engineering, physical and Material sciences.

Winners receive complimentary registration to a relevant RMS meeting where they will be presented with their award. They may be invited to produce an article for infocus magazine

2023 Winner

Natalie Reznikov.jpg

Dr Natalie Reznikov, Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering, McGill University, Canada. 

Natalie is an extraordinarily vibrant scientist in the area of electron microscopy and X-ray analysis of biological materials, including the use of focused ion beam in conjunction with X-ray tomography, scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy.

She has made important contributions for the 3D characterisation of biomineralising systems, in particular bone. This has led to several highly cited publications. Her publication record includes a book chapter and 30 peer-reviewed research papers in high impact journals such as Science, Nature Reviews Materials and Acta Biomaterialia.

Since August 2020, she has been Assistant Professor in Bioengineering at the McGill University in Montreal, establishing the use of advanced X-ray and electron imaging for the analysis of biomineralizing systems. Her key contributions include:

  • Development of a high-resolution 3D-mapping algorithm for anisotropy and volume fraction of inhomogeneous solids using machine learning for large scale 3D data segmentation. 
  • Application of Network topology to the quantitative characterisation of trabecular bone leading to a topological blueprint of trabecular bone in the joints or in the spine. 
  • Identification of the fractal-like structure of bone, resulting in the assembly of bone components into nested, helicoidal patterns which explains the paradoxical combination of the simultaneous stiffness and toughness of bone. 
  • Discovery of order and chaos in bone, showing that about 25% of the collagen fibrils are haphazardly organized into a chaotic, disordered phase that intercalates with the predominant ordered arrays

Natalie’s scientific contributions are truly outstanding, as are her contributions to the interdisciplinary character of the microscopy community. She is an exceptionally gifted team player and an effective network builder who strongly contributes to the interdisciplinary character of the microscopy community. 


  • All awards are open to applicants worldwide.
  • The award will normally be made to nominees who have engaged in independent research for less than 10 years. 

How to submit a nomination:

  • Applicants may self-nominate or be nominated by a colleague or collaborator.
  • Applications and nominations should be submitted to Jade Sturdy.
  • Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and a letter stating which section award they wish to be considered for.
  • Nominators should submit a curriculum vitae for the nominated candidate and a statement (maximum length 1 page) outlining the merits of the candidate and their suitability for the specific award (please note - if you wish to nominate someone without notifying them of the nomination, a shorter CV i.e. a bio from LinkedIn will be accepted).
  • 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 relevant science section will consider applications.

Previous Winners

2021 - Dr Wing Chung Tsoi 2021 - Dr Wing Chung Tsoi

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.”

2019 - Dr Caterina Ducati 2019 - Dr Caterina Ducati

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). 

2017 - Dr Sarah Haigh 2017 - Dr Sarah Haigh

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.

2015 - Professor Angus Wilkinson 2015 - Professor Angus Wilkinson

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.