Max Perutz Science Writing Award 2015 – winner announced
23 Oct 2015
MRC PhD student Emily Eisner from the University of Manchester has won this year’s Max Perutz Science Writing Award. On 22 October Emily received the first prize of £1,500 for her article: ‘Premonitions of Psychosis’, which has now been published on the BBC News website.
The runner-up prize of £750 was awarded to Alex Binks from the University of Glasgow for his article, ‘Espionage, Martinis and Explosions: How Reprogramming Viruses can Help us Fight Cancer’. Commendation prizes of £400 went to Clara Humpston from Cardiff University, Stephanie Shoop from the University of Manchester, and Barry Bentley from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.
The awards were announced by MRC Chairman and competition head judge, Donald Brydon, alongside last year’s winner and science communicator, Christoffer van Tulleken, University College London. On presenting Emily’s prize Mr Brydon said:
“The quality of entries for the Max Perutz award continues to delight, even if it means that choosing a winner never gets any easier! This year’s winner, Emily, easily surpassed the competition criteria and I hope will continue to devote time to writing as well as to her scientific research.”
The other judges on this year’s panel included: Caroline Parkinson, Assistant Editor, Specialist Journalism, BBC News; MRC Council members Dr Ruth McKernan CBE, CEO, Innovate UK and Vivienne Parry OBE, science journalist; Professor Sue Gathercole, Director, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit; and 2014 Max Perutz Award winner Christoffer van Tulleken.
This year’s award was run in association with BBC News. Caroline Parkinson commented:
“The standard of the winners work was extremely high, and showed a wide range of approaches to the challenge of communicating scientific research in a way that is engaging, interesting and clear to a lay reader. I was keen for the BBC to be involved because the qualities we were looking for here are the same as those we strive to achieve each day in our coverage of health and science, across BBC News.”
The awards ceremony took place on 22 October at the Royal Institution, London, where members of the MRC’s Council and Management Board as well as colleagues from across the medical research community had the opportunity to congratulate the shortlisted entrants and meet the judges.
Professor Robin Perutz, son of the late Max Perutz, spoke movingly about the work of his father and his skills and interest in science writing. He also paid tribute to scientists Dorothy Hodgkin and Lise Meitner, both of whom were very highly regarded by his father and whom he had met as a child.
The Max Perutz Award is in its 18th year and encourages MRC-funded PhD students to communicate their work to a wider audience. Entrants are asked to explain why their research matters in just 800 words. Since the competition started in 1998, hundreds of researchers have submitted entries and taken their first steps into science communication.
The award is named in honour of one of the UK’s most outstanding scientists and communicators, Dr Max Perutz. Max, who died in 2002, was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work using X-ray crystallography to study the structures of globular proteins, including haemoglobin. He was the founder and first chairman of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge. Max was also a keen and talented communicator who inspired countless students to use everyday language to share their research with the people whose lives are improved by their work.
All of the short-listed articles are now published (PDF, 292KB).