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Malvern PANalytical Thesis Prize for Physical Crystallography

Thesis Prize 2024

The PCG-SCMP is pleased to invite entries for the Malvern PANalytical Thesis Prize in Physical Crystallography. The prize will be awarded for the best use of techniques or methods of Physical Crystallography in a successfully examined thesis submitted in the period from 1st January 2022 to 31st December 2023.

In order for a thesis to be eligible for the award, the Physical Crystallography element must be central to the work of the thesis, which must also demonstrate a context over and above structural work for its own sake. The candidate must be a member of the Structural Condensed Matter Group of the IoP and/or the Physical Crystallography Group of the BCA. Non-members may enter the competition but will be required to join the IoP/SCMP or the BCA/PCG at the student rate to progress their nomination further.

It is easy to enter the competition! Candidates should submit the following...
(a) a copy of the thesis in electronic format.
(b) a personal statement of not more than 500 words explaining why the thesis should be considered for the prize and including a clear description of the role of Physical Crystallography (as broadly defined at the bottom of this page, and elsewhere on the website in the research. The suitability of the thesis content for entry to the competition will be decided by the Group Officers with reference to the aforementioned definition.
(c) the names and contact details of two academic referees, one of whom may be the thesis supervisor, who will be able to comment on the thesis research of the candidate.

Applications for the thesis prize have now closed

Questions related to the prize should be addressed to the PCG Chair, Dr Lewis Owen (

The 2024 Prize will be awarded at the 2024 Winter Meeting (28th & 29th October 2023). The winner will be asked to give a 30 minute talk about their work.

Previous winners
  • 2023 Adam Sapnik (Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy, University of Cambridge) "Extreme Disorder in Metal–Organic Frameworks"
  • 2022 Tong Zhu (Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford) "Soft chemical routes to ferroelectric and multiferroic materials"
  • 2021 Chloe Coates (Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford) "Spin-ice physics and phase transitions in cadmium cyanide"
  • 2020 Richard Dixey (School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent) "Ferromagnetic Ising Chains In Frustrated Magnetocaloric Frameworks"
  • 2019 Noah Waterfield-Price (Department of Physics, University of Oxford) "Domains and functionality in multiferroic BiFeO3 films"
  • 2018 Lewis Owen (Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy, University of Cambridge) "The analysis of local structural effects in alloys using total scattering and reverse Monte Carlo techniques"
  • 2017 Pu Zhao (Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge) "The structure-property relations of zeolitic imidazolate framework 7 for carbon dioxide capture"
  • 2016 Andrew Cairns (Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford) "Mechanical and configurational degeneracy in transition metal cyanide materials"
  • 2015 Josh Makepeace (Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford) "Light metal amides for hydrogen storage and ammonia decomposition"
  • 2014 Alexander Hearmon (Department of Physics, University of Oxford) "Neutron, X-ray, and Optical Studies of Multiferroic Materials"
  • 2013 Mark Senn (Department of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh) "Charge, Orbital and Magnetic Ordering in Transition Metal Oxides”"
  • 2012 Lucian Pascut (School of Physics, Bristol University) "Neutron and Resonant X-ray Scattering Studies of Low Dimensional Quantum Magnets"
  • 2011 Stuart Bland (Department of Physics, Durham University) "X-Ray Scattering Studies of Charge and Orbital Ordering in Transition Metal Oxides"
  • 2010 Helen Maynard-Casely (Department of Physics, University of Edinburgh) "The new mineralogy of the outer solar system and the high-pressure behaviour of methane"
  • 2009 Aurora Cruz-Cabeza (Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge) “On the Prediction, Rationalisation and Discovery of New Crystal Forms”
  • 2008 Lars Lundegaard (Department of Physics, University of Edinburgh) “High-Pressure Difraction Studies of Rubidium Phase IV”
  • 2007 Lynne Thomas (Department of Chemistry, University of Glasgow) “Disorder in Substituted Benzenes by Combined Diffraction and Computational Studies”.
  • 2006 Andrew Goodwin (Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge) "Dynamics from Powder Diffraction"
  • 2005 Dominic Fortes (UCL) "Crystallisation of Ammonia Hydrates under High Pressure"

Remit of Physical Crystallography in connection with Prizes

Methods and techniques of Physical Crystallography will be interpreted in a broad fashion, for example, to include x-ray and neutron diffraction or scattering, Rietveld analysis and structure refinement, total scattering, structure-property relationships, development of structure-solution techniques, crystallography under non-ambient conditions, use of complementary techniques to diffraction (e.g. optical studies, NMR), computational crystallography and modelling, electron diffraction, diffuse scattering, applications of physical crystallography in biology.

The Physical Crystallography Prize

Physical Crystallography Prize

The Physical Crystallography Prize is awarded for the best recently published work by a person in the early stages of their career, working in the field of Physical Crystallography, whose research is expected to make a significant impact in the field. The award is traditionally presented at the BCA Spring Meeting and the winner gives a Prize Lecture at that meeting.

Nominations for the 2024 Prize are CLOSED

Rules of the Prize

  1. The Award will be made by the Committee of the Physical Crystallography Group of the BCA (also known as the Structural Condensed Matter Physics Group of the Institute of Physics).
  2. The Award will be made for what is, in the opinion of the judging panel, the best recently published work (for example, 2 or 3 papers) by a researcher in the early stages of a career in the field of Physical Crystallography. The recipient will be expected to give an oral presentation of their work at the BCA Spring Meeting. This will normally be a condition of the Award and will only be waived in exceptional circumstances.
  3. In addition to the prestige associated with the receipt of the Award and the opportunity to deliver the Prize lecture, there will be a monetary sum associated with the Award, whose value is currently £500 but which is subject to revision from time to time.
  4. Nominations should be sent to the chair of the judging panel in advance of the deadline. The deadline will usually be 1st December of odd-numbered years for award in even-numbered years. Nominations should be accompanied by: a brief CV of the nominee; copies of the papers on which the nomination is based; and a supporting statement from the nominator, including comments on the part the nominee has played in any research work published jointly with others.
  5. The nominations will be assessed by a panel of three judges appointed by the PCG committee. In the event of a tied vote, the chair of the judging panel will make the final decision as to the recipient of the Award.
  6. Nominees should either be citizens of the UK, be resident and working the UK, or have carried out the work on which the nomination is based while working in the UK.
  7. Candidates for the Award should meet the definition of "Early Career" as per the Institute of Physics: those in the first 12 years of their career (allowing for career breaks) e.g. nominees for the 2024 prize should be within 12 years of the award of a first degree at the time of nomination.
  8. Nominations of candidates from within the same department as the nominator will not normally be valid and will be considered only under exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the judging panel.

History of the Prize

For many years, Phillips Analytical have sponsored a prize lecture in physical crystallography. Since the purchase of Philips Analytical by Spectris PLC in September 2002 the company is trading under the name of PANalytical Limited. PANalytical agreed to continue to sponsor the annual award for Physical Crystallography, which was renamed the "PANalytical Physical Crystallography Award". Since the 2006 edition, the prize has been sponsored by the Institute of Physics, and has been again renamed the "Physical Crystallography Award". The award is presented for the best recently published work (say 2-3 papers in the last few years) by a person in the early stages of their career in the field of Physical Crystallography. It is to be expected that his or her research has or is expected to make a significant impact in this field. The award is traditionally made at the Annual BCA Spring Meeting and the recipient is expected to give an oral presentation of his or her work at that meeting. A judging panel appointed by the PCG-SCMP committee will decide on the awardee and the Group Chair will announce the prize, which currently consists of a cash award of £500.

Previous winners
  • 2024 Dr Hanna Böstrom (Stockholm University) & Dr Lewis Owen (Sheffield)
  • 2022 Dr Matthew Cliffe (Nottingham)
  • 2020 Dr Josie Auckett (Durham) & Dr Lucy Clark (Birmingham)
  • 2018 Dr Mark Senn (Warwick)
  • 2016 Dr Paul Saines (Kent)
  • 2014 Dr Roger Johnson (Oxford)
  • 2012 Dr Jonathan Wright (ESRF)
  • 2010 Dr Christoph Salzmann (Durham)
  • 2008 Dr Laurent Chapon (ISIS)
  • 2006 Dr Matt Tucker (Cambridge University)
  • 2004 Dr Andrew Wills (UCL)
  • 2001 Dr Jens Kreisel (Warwick)
  • 1999 Dr Mark Harris
  • 1998 Dr Alison Pawley
  • 1997 Dr Kenneth Harris
  • 1996 Dr Chick Wilson (ISIS)
  • 1995 Dr Werner Kaminsky
  • 1993 Dr Simon Redfern
  • 1992 Dr Pamela Thomas
  • 1991 Dr Ross Angel
  • 1990 Dr Martin Dove (Cambridge)
  • 1989 Dr Lynne McCusker