Birks circle photo

Birks Awards

Honoring LaVerne (Verne) Stanfield Birks (1919 – 1991)

X-ray spectroscopy came into existence and became an important analytical tool due to the work done by LaVerne Birks. Work performed by Verne and Herb Friedman at the Naval Research Lab, and later with Ed Brooks, led to the construction of an important new analytical tool: a wavelength dispersive X-ray spectrometer. Verne also conducted original research to demonstrate the effect surface treatment had on the performance of LiF as an analyzing crystal; assisted in the development of fundamental parameters; demonstrated the importance of excitation efficiency; made use of a vacuum path in place of air to decrease absorption; and conducted environmental studies of air and water using his new X-ray spectrometer.

Further information can be found in the tribute written by John Gilfrich, Verne’s friend and colleague.

The Denver X-ray Conference Advisory Committee established the Birks Award in 1986 to recognize outstanding contributions to the field of X-ray spectrometry. The award was named in honor of L. S. (Verne) Birks for his many contributions to the X-ray analysis field. This award is presented biennially, usually in even numbered calendar years.

Selection Process

The Birks Award Committee consists of three members (including the Chair); two of the three members are members of the Denver X-ray Conference Organizing Committee (DXCOC).

Each member of the award committee may select as many as three candidates for the award. Each committee member assigns a point value to each candidate, based on his or her selection as first, second, or third choice. The candidate who receives the highest amount of points will receive the award.

Award Presentation

The Birks Award is presented at the Plenary Session of the Denver X-ray Conference. It consists of a commemorative plaque, detailing the recipient’s scientific achievements and contributions to the field of X-ray spectrometry, and a gift of $1,000.

Submission Process

  1. Electronic: Candidates may be submitted to the Chairman of the DXC Award Committee by completing a DXC Awards Nomination Form. In addition to the nomination form, the candidate’s curriculum vitae must be sent via email to or by mail or fax using the contact information below.
  2. Hardcopy: Alternatively, candidates may be submitted to the Chairman of the Selection Committee by mailing a letter of support describing the candidate’s major accomplishments relative to the award, signed by the nominator and two others, along with the candidate’s curriculum vitae to:

Chairman, DXC Awards Selection Committee
c/o Stephanie Jennings
International Centre for Diffraction Data
12 Campus Boulevard
Newtown Square, PA 19073-3273 USA
Fax: 610.325-9823

Submission Deadline

Submissions must be made by 1 October for the next year’s award.


2022 Birks Award Recipient
Kouichi Tsuji

This year, the Birks Award for excellence in X-ray spectrometry honors Dr. Kouichi Tsuji of Osaka Metropolitan University (OMU), Osaka, Japan. We honor his contributions to the development and applications in the field of X-ray fluorescence spectrometry including depth profiling using confocal XRF, full field WDXRF imaging, micro XRF, TXRF; and his commitment to his students and to the international XRF community.

Lee Grodzins - Birks Award
2021 Birks Award Recipient
Lee Grodzins

This year, the Birks Award for excellence in X-ray spectrometry honors Dr. Lee Grodzins, Professor of Physics, Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Grodzins has performed many profound and pioneering experiments as a nuclear physicist. Here, we honor him for his innovative and groundbreaking contributions to the XRF field; Lee’s work led to the development of handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometry instruments. This innovation expanded XRF analysis to in-field applications such as environmental studies, archeological explorations, mining, and also to new methods for manufacturing process control.

Lee joined the Physics Department at MIT in 1959, retiring in 1998 to direct the R&D group at Niton Corporation, a company he founded in 1987. At Niton, he developed and marketed the handheld XRF instruments, providing portable, non-destructive surface analysis at the ppm level. Four of his instruments won R&D 100 awards, which are given yearly to the country’s 100 most innovative technical products.

Lee supervised 21 Ph.D. recipients, authored more than 150 technical papers, and holds more than 50 U.S. patents. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1964–65 as well as in 1971–72, and a Senior von Humboldt Fellow in 1980–81. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Purdue University in 1998.

The Lee Grodzins Postdoctoral Award was named in his honor at MIT. Lee is especially proud of being a founding member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a national, nonprofit organization founded more than 50 years ago by scientists and students at MIT. The organization’s mission is to use rigorous, independent science to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. In 2000, he also founded Cornerstones of Science, a public library initiative to connect children and adults with science.

We are honored to recognize Lee’s critical contributions to XRF, expanding science and analysis to wide-ranging applications and environments. In addition, we congratulate and thank him for all of his exemplary scientific achievements.

We salute Dr. Lee Grodzins for his outstanding contributions to the XRF field!


2018 Birks Award Recipient
Christina Streli
Alan Huber circle photo
2016 Birks Award Recipient
Alan C. Huber
2016 Birks Award Recipient
Jacob (Nate) Sherman**
(bestowed posthumously)
George Havrilla circle photo
2014 – Birks Award Recipient
George Havrilla
Criss circle photo
2012 – Birks Award Recipient
John Criss**
(bestowed posthumously and accepted on his behalf by Judy Criss, left)
Burke circle photo
2010 – Birks Award Recipient
Victor Buhrke (left)
Birks Van Grieken circle photo
2008 – Birks Award Recipient
Rene Van Grieken (left)
Peter Wobrauschek circle photo
2006 – Birks Award Recipient
Peter Wobrauschek (left)
Arai circle photo
2004 – Birks Award Recipient
Tomoya Arai
Mantler circle photo
2002 – Birks Award Recipient
Michael Mantler (left)
Ebel circle photo
1998 – Birks Award Recipient
Horst Ebel (left)
Gilfrich circle photo
1996 Birks Award Recipient
John V. Gilfrich** (left)
Willis circle photo
1994 – Birks Award Recipient
James P. Willis (right)
Lachance circle photo
1992 – Birks Award Recipient
Gerald R. La Chance (left)
Norrish circle photo
1990 – Birks Award Recipient
Keith Norrish (right)
Bertin circle photo
1988 – Birks Award Recipient
Eugene P. Bertin (right)
Jenkins circle photo
1986 – Birks Award Recipient
Ron Jenkins** (right)


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