The winner of the 2022 Peter Troughton Research Staff Prize is Dr Julian Stirling, Research Associate in the Department of Physics. The Peter Troughton Research Staff Prize is awarded on behalf of Senate by the Peter Troughton Research Staff Prize Committee to a postdoctoral member of research staff for outstanding performance in their duties.

A key part of Dr Stirling’s research is the OpenFlexure Microscope, a fully automated digital microscope for laboratory use, co-developed with partners in Africa and South America to be manufactured where it is needed, and released under an open license. Dr Stirling transformed this microscope from a prototype into a robust, well-tested instrument that is reliably produced in Tanzania. The production of this microscope addresses the challenge of good diagnostics in malaria-endemic regions, which affects around 200 million people per year, causing half a million deaths, predominantly in children, in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr Stirling's work not only creates new technology that can succeed in challenging environments, but bridges the divide between research in affluent nations, and the innovators, entrepreneurs, and healthcare professionals who are driving change in some of the most economically disadvantaged places in the world.

OpenFlexure has become a gold standard for sharing scientific experiments. Dr Stirling's work has been highlighted in Nature Methods and the Guardian, and he was commissioned to write for Physics World and The Conversation. He co-authored a white paper with The Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy (NYU School of Law) on distributed manufacturing, and is referenced by the Wilson Centre (a US government think tank) and the European Commission in recent policy reports.

Professor Sarah Hainsworth, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Chair of the Prize Committee, said “The competition for the Peter Troughton Prize was extremely high and the judges were impressed with all of the entries. The winner of this year’s prize impressed with his passion for his project and the significant advances that he had been able to make to 3D print a medical grade microscope for use in the global south which was capable of being used for assessment and prevention of disease. We also thank Peter Troughton for his generous endowment of this prize and look forward to a new set of entries next year.”

Sponsor of the award, Peter Troughton, said, “The Prize Committee had a tough decision to make at this year's awards, but Dr Stirling was the clear winner in a strong field of entrants. Africa is the lucky beneficiary of his passion and his original project.”