The Trail-Crisp Award

In recognition of an outstanding contribution to microscopy, with preference given to early and mid-career researchers.

Established in 1966, from the amalgamation of The Trail Award and The Crisp Award (both founded in 1910), the Trail-Crisp Award is presented at intervals with preference to early and mid-career researchers. A bronze medal and purse is presented to the recipient of the award.

Nominations are now closed. Sign up to our newsletter, Linnean News, for updates on events, grants, awards and news from the Linnean Society of London.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Open to any scientist of any nationality, in any field, using microscopy
  • For their outstanding contribution to microscopy
  • Nominee cannot, at the time of nomination, be a member of Council
  • Nominee can be any age, but preference is given to early and mid-career researchers
  • Nominee does not need to be a Fellow of the Society
  • We do not accept self-nominations
Lara González Carretero

Dr Lara González Carretero, University of York, Trail-Crisp Award 2023

Dr Lara González Carretero’s work on charred cereal foods for her 2020 PhD provided a breakthrough for archaeobotany. The carbonised remains of food have proved stubbornly resistant to identification, but González Carretero was able to establish clear and replicable criteria to identify cereal species under the microscope. Her best-known work concerns bread material from Jordan that represents the world’s oldest known to date.

Mrs Frieda Christie

Frieda Christie, Trail-Crisp Award 2022

Frieda Christie has contributed her expertise in microscopy to innumerable projects, including palynology, palaeobotany, cytology, plant anatomy, plant development and ontogeny, taxonomy, and plant evolution, particularly in Gesneriaceae. She has published significant original research with collaborators around the world, where her images are appreciated as not only scientifically novel, but beautiful as well. Images she has prepared have been the covers of both scientific and popular journals. She has also provided unparalleled technical support to students and postgraduate researchers, helping develop skills in microscopy in future generations of botanical scientists. Her work has a significant public-facing side, with museum exhibitions on the microscopic world, awards at science-art competitions, and through multiple science/art crossover projects with local artists in schools where children are inspired to produce 3D sculptures inspired by nature.

Dakota McCoy

Dakota E. McCoy, Harvard University, Trail-Crisp Award 2021

Dakota E. (Cody) McCoy is a biologist whose innovative use of microscopy has revealed new insights into the phenomenon of colour. Using SEM, micro-CT, and ray tracing models, Cody and her colleagues showed that some birds-of-paradise have “super black” feathers that absorb as much as 99.95% of incident light—rivalling antireflective man-made materials—due to novel micro-scale structures which trap and iteratively absorb light. This “super black” structural colour evolved convergently at least 15 times in birds. Super black is a remarkable convergence between distantly-related animals subject to intense sexual selection. In both birds and spiders, super black hijacks innate sensory circuitry that controls for ambient lighting, causing nearby colours to look impossibly bright.

She paired scanning electron microscopy with finite-difference time-domain optical simulations to discover that peacock spiders—the arachnid analogue of birds-of-paradise—have an array of light-focusing bumps (“microlenses”), optimally sized and shaped to absorb more, and reflect less, light in partnership with melanin pigments.

Typically structure colour in nature is studied at the nano-scale, but Cody has shown that micro-scale structures have a significant impact on appearance, and thus natural history. Her work pairs microscopy—and microscopic discovery- with evolutionary theory. Her discoveries have inspired not only new studies of structural light manipulation in many animals, but also have had wide-ranging impact in fields as diverse as new solar technologies and bio-inspired artwork.