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Medical Physics Group PhD Prize

This is an annual prize for an outstanding thesis.

You can apply for the 2022 prize if you:

  • have recently submitted your PhD (or doctoral level equivalent) thesis (defined as having your PhD viva between 1 September 2021 and 31 August 2022);
  • are from an institution in the UK or Ireland;
  • are a member of the Institute of Physics; and
  • are not a paid employee of the IOP, a member of its Council, or a member of one of our group committees.

Note: we will liaise with other IOP groups so that no more than one group prize is awarded to the same applicant.

The submission should include:

  • your thesis abstract;
  • a list of your publications;
  • a covering letter that highlights how your work meets the prize’s criteria (maximum: 1,000 words);
  • a supervisor’s reference on your suitability for the award, including confirmation of the date and outcome of PhD viva (maximum: 500 words); and
  • a lay summary which will be used in public communications if you are awarded the prize (maximum 200 words).

Submissions will be judged by an expert panel. The primary criteria will be scientific excellence – this might be demonstrated by early-stage work with the potential to lead to a paradigm shift in medical physics; by exceptional investigation of a technique with immediate patient benefit; or anything in between. When judging we will also take into account:

  • originality (in conception and/or execution);
  • quality and clarity of presentation; and
  • rigour of research methodology and analysis.

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 12 October 2022.

Informal enquiries and applicant submissions can be emailed to: [email protected].



Dr Oliver Pickford-Scienti, The Institute of Cancer Research

On the potential of multi-spectral x-ray and photoacoustic imaging to facilitate gold nanoparticle mediated dose-enhanced radiotherapy

This work combines a literature review, simulations and experimental studies to advance our understanding of the use of nanoparticles in radiotherapy – which have the potential improve cancer treatments in the future.

This research has resulted in five papers to date, along with follow-on funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). According to committee member Richard Amos: “This is novel research at the cutting edge of the imaging technique investigated. Although the clinical application of this technique will not be immediate, I have no doubt that Dr Pickford-Scienti’s work has brought this closer. This thesis is a great example of the application of the scientific process to a healthcare problem.”


Dr Gemma Roberts, Newcastle University

Can we improve the early diagnosis of Lewy body disease with more accurate quantification of nuclear medicine scans?

This work investigates the quantification of two scintigraphic biomarkers for the diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies, defines new diagnostic thresholds and protocols, and has shown that it has improved the understanding of how age affects these markers – all of which will contribute to more accurate diagnoses.

This work has produced seven papers, either already published or under review, in international peer-reviewed journals and has contributed to Dr Roberts’ award of the Alzheimer’s Society Rising Star in dementia research in 2019.

According to committee member Sarah Bugby: “The work presented here is both significant and ambitious in scope, providing answers to a number of important research questions in the field. We were particularly impressed by the immediate benefit to patients due to this work, this is a great example of the role of physics in improving people’s lives.”


Dr Elena Boto, University of Nottingham

Wearable magnetoencephalography

This ground-breaking work, applying optically pumped room temperature magnetometers, has enabled, flexible, adaptable wearable systems with immediate clinical application, making a true paradigm shift in this field.

This work has produced 12 major, highly cited papers in international peer-reviewed journals including one accepted for Nature. According to committee member Louis Lemieux: “Because of its much superior sensitivity, and capability to record brain activity from the neocortex and much deeper structures than currently possible non-invasively, this technology could replace scalp EEG in many applications.”