Award for Light Microscopy

For outstanding scientific achievements applying or developing new forms of light microscopy.

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


  • 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.
  • Nnominators 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 specificaward.  
  • 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 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.”


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.