The 2020 BLCS Medal Winners

We are living in extraordinary times. Life, as we know it, has stopped and we have entered a new area, which requires new modes of thinking, behaving and communicating. As scientists, we are used to it. How could research be anything else but permanent change and adapting to new situations?

This year we will change how the medal winners are announced. Traditionally the winners have been announced at the BLCS conference. It was never a big surprise, more an open secret. A look at the conference program was enough to see who won.  Under the present circumstances we have decided to break with the tradition and disclose the list of recipients before the conference since a new date for it is not yet decided and we do not want the cliff hanger to go on for too long.

The winners  of 2020 BLCS prize winners are

Gray medal: 

Prof. Ewa Gorecka, University of Warsaw, Poland



Hilsum medal:

Prof. Apala Majumdar, University of Strathclyde

Young Scientist Award:

Dr. Rebecca Walker, University of Aberdeen

All recipients will receive the medals at the upcoming conference. They cannot escape the warm handshake, the party and the talks. These are our ‘Oscars’ and we need the ‘thank you’ speeches and the glamour of the conference dinner. Let’s hope that we will not wait for too long for that.

Keep well and keep thinking outside the box.

Coronavirus postpones and the 2020 BLCS annual conference

Due to the continued spread of covid-19, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 BLCS meeting, due to be held 6-8th April in Aberdeen.

Seeing that many universities across the Europe and the US have closed/switched to online classes, coupled with an increasing number of UK universities – including the University of Aberdeen – advising against (inter)national travel, we think we would see our numbers suffer/not get the best of the conference and, more importantly, we don’t want to risk our delegates, especially our international visitors.

We would like to emphasise that this is at this time a postponement rather than a cancellation – we will see how the covid-19 situation progresses over the summer months, and in the best case scenario, we would propose holding the meeting in early September instead. Of course, this is dependent on the global situation improving.

More information to follow. Please get in touch at if you have any urgent questions or concerns.

We apologise for the inconveniences this may cause, and thank you in advance for your understanding.

Calls for nominations to the steering committee

At the next BLCS annual meeting in Aberdeen 2020 we are looking for nominations for a Vice-Chair position (4 year appointment) and a student representatives (2 year appointment) onto the steering committee.

Nominations for committee must be sent to the Secretary by 19th March 2020. Both nominees and nominators MUST be members of the Society and the express permission of the nominee must be obtained. Nomination forms are on the last page of this letter and can also be downloaded from here.

I would encourage you all members to consider nominating for his role in the community. For further details and current committee members you can view the Information Pages or the call original call here.

New Design for Gray and Hilsum Medal

In approximately a year we will have to purchase a new batch of Gray and Hilsum medals.  This seems a good opportunity to reflect on how we wish to honour our colleagues for their distinguished work in liquid crystal research (see Gray Medal and Hilsum Medal for details of the two awards).   The current award consists of a silver plated medal.  Liquid crystals are objects of extraordinary beauty and we were wondering whether we could honour our prize winners by offering them an artefact that reflected their multi-coloured and multi-form nature, instead of a medal.  We do not have any particular object in mind, it could be a glass sculpture, a flat surface, e.g. painting or enamel, or something else entirely.

  • When designing the object, please keep in mind that it has to be reproduceable, i.e. think about how that should be done.
  • The artefact should still be roughly the size of a medal, therefore not bigger than 10 cm in diameter, and not be much higher than 5 cm.
  • Ideally we should be able to add the name of the recipient easily.
  • If possible give an estimate about the production cost.

The design will be exhibited at the BLCS conference in Aberdeen and during the private view (drinks will be involved) everyone can vote for a design.

Get creative!

Susanne and Giampaolo.

The 2020 call for BLCS Prizes and Medals

The British Liquid Crystal Society is calling for nominations for the below listed society awards. All nominations must be sent to the Secretary (contact details and advert can be view here) by the new extended deadline of Wednesday 22nd January 2020. Society awards:

  • G.W. Gray Medal
  • C. Hilsum Medal
  • BLCS Young Scientist Prize
Please see the advert and the BLCS website for full rules on each award here.

Date for the diary: BLCS Annual Training Workshop: January 8-10, 2020 in Birmingham

We are pleased to announce that a series of British Liquid Crystal Society (BLCS) Annual Training Workshops will be organised at the University of Birmingham, being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) of the UK.
The workshops are intended to provide education and training for the next generation of researchers in the highly interdisciplinary area of liquid-crystal research, highlighting its recent advances in the wider context of soft and biological matter.

The next workshop in this series will be held at the University of Birmingham from the 8th to the 10th January, 2020. The three-day event will start at noon on the 8th and finish in the late afternoon of the 10th, and will include lectures, practical training sessions and the mini-symposium. The workshop is intended for early-stage researchers (primarily PhD students, but also post-doctoral research associates and researchers in industry, who are relatively new to the field of liquid-crystal research, irrespective of their academic disciplines) and can offer limited number of places.

Expressions of interest in the prescribed format (see the attachment HERE for details) are currently invited for attending the BLCS Annual Training Workshop to be held in January 2020. Please email your expression of interest to by November 22, 2019. Accepted participants will be notified in due course. The workshop website can be viewed here.

BLCS Annual Meeting 2020: abstract submission and registration now open

The BLCS Annual Meeting 2020, will take place 6th-8th April at the University of Aberdeen. The conference will cover cutting edge research across all elements of liquid crystal science, including chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, materials science and bio-science.

Abstract Submission for both oral and poster presentations and Registration are now open via the conference website.
Deadline for abstract submission: 13th March 2020
Deadline for early-bird registration: 13th March 2020
Deadline for late registration: 23rd March 2020

Date for the Diary: BLCS Annual Meeting 2020

The BLCS Annual Meeting 2020 will be held 6–8 April at the University of Aberdeen. The local meeting organisers are Dr Alfonso Martinez-Felipe and Dr Rebecca Walker. Further details and website to be launched in due course. To contact the meeting organisers please use the e-mail address blcs2020 at

BLCS Outreach Fund

A new BLCS Outreach Fund has been setup. The Outreach Fund aims to support all outreach activities that involve, to a significant extent, liquid crystal science and applications. The fund is open to all members of the society allowing members up to £200 per year. For more information please see the opportunities page and application form.

Garry Lester raises LC awareness at the UNESCO day of light

16th May was the UNESCO day of light, one of the goals being to enhance public awareness of how light based technologies touch our daily lives.  16th May is also the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960.

To support the day of light ‘Lighting up the RAMM’ took place on the 18th May at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.  Free and open to the public this drew in a diverse mixture of locals and visitors to the city; from professional scientists and engineers to young families.

Coordinated by (EUOPS) Exeter University Optics and Photonics Society there were a number of demonstrations throughout the museum covering Virtual Reality, hands on optical fibre and endoscopy demonstrations and Polarised Light.

In association with the IET and SPIE the BLCS supported display material and demonstrations of Light, Polarisation and LCDs.  A table top presentation by Garry Lester used desktop sheets with text and diagrams to provide a backdrop to hands on demonstrations of polarised light and applications.

Starting from what polarisation light is and where birefringence colours come from there were demonstrations of birefringence colours and stress birefringence as a diagnostic tool.  A demonstration with 3D glasses showed how polarisation is exploited in the cinema and the difference between projection systems using linear and circular polarisers.   A liquid crystal display with the polarisers removed emphasised the role of polarisation in our everyday displays.

Some of the material would be familiar to those who have attended the BLCS winter workshop over the years!

Even the most ‘unimpressed by science’ were, perhaps grudgingly, intrigued at being able to see the patterns of molecules moving in their hands through stress birefringence or the numbers on their calculator display only appearing ‘magically’ with polarisers.

For people interested on how the BLCS can support your outreach, please contact the any of the committee members.