Summer School

The ABSW Science Writers' Awards for Great Britain and Ireland were presented at a ceremony at the bluedot Festival at Jodrell Bank on Saturday 23 July 2016.  The ceremony was hosted by Martin Ince, President of the ABSW and Seema Kumar Johnson & Johnson VP of Innovation, Global Health & Policy Communications.








European Science Writer of the Year 2016

Left to right: Steve Connor, Seema Kumar, Michele Catanzaro


Steve Connor, UK Science Writer of the Year and Michele Catanzaro, Winner European Science Writer of the Year, receive their awards from Seema Kumar





Winner: Spanish Science Writer of the Year, Michele Catanzaro, a freelance science journalist nominated by Asociacion Española de Comunicacion Cientifica, AECC (Spanish Association of Scientific Communication) & Associació Catalana de Comunicació Científica - ACCC (Catalan Association for Science Communication, Spain)

The judges said: We were impressed by the quality and depth of the investigative work carried out by Michele either on his own or when leading a team of other journalists. Michele showed great judgement in finding others to complement his journalistic skills and knowledge in order to carry these investigations.

Highly Commended: French Science Writer of the Year, Stéphane Foucart, a Journalist for the daily French newspaper Le Monde nominated by Association des journalistes scientifiques de la presse d'information

The judges said: Stephane should be applauded for holding the scientific establishment to account in his work for Le Monde.

Other Country nominees (each nominee becomes science writer of the year in their nominating country)

Austrian Science Writer of the Year – Elisabeth Schneyder, freelance, nominated by the Austrian Association of Education and Science Journalists

Danish Science Writer of the Year – Jens Ramskov, Journalist at Ingeniøren, nominated by the Danish Science Journalists Association

Dutch Science Writer of the Year – Aliette Jonkers, freelance, nominated by VWN, the Dutch national association for science journalism and communication

Estonian Science Writer of the Year – Arko Olesk, freelance, nominated by the Estonian Association of Science Journalists

Greek Science Writer of the Year – Spiros Kitsinelis, science communicator, nominated by Science View (Greece)

Irish Science Writer of the Year – Claire O’Connell, freelance, nominated by the Irish Science & Technology Journalists' Association (ISTJA)

Serbian Science Writer of the Year – Slobodan Bubnjevic, Editor-in-chief, ELEMENTI, nominated by Mreza Naucnih Novinara, Serbia (The Science Journalist Network)

UK Science Writer of the Year – Steve Connor, freelance (former science editor the Independent), nominated by the Association of British Science Writers

ABSW Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland 2016 – shortlists in all categories (links to winning pieces are provided where available)

Best feature

Natasha Loder, The age of the red pen: It is now easy to edit the genomes of plants, animals and humans, published in the Economist, 22/08/2015

The judges said: So well written, a definitive and superb piece on a very technical subject that explores aspects of this story that are both encouraging and worrying at the same time.  

Best news item

Michael Le Page, Earth now halfway to warming limit, published in New Scientist, 01/08/2015

The judges said: A new twist on a story that needs to keep hitting the headlines.

Best scripted/edited television programme or online video

Joint Winners

Team entry: BBC Science Series Editor: Steve Crabtree. Series Producer: Paul King. Producer and Director: Peter Leonard. Researcher: Claudia Woolston.  Horizon - OCD: A monster in my mind. First broadcast BBC Two 26/08/2015

The judges said: A compelling combination of human interest with hard science. Or at least as hard as we have – and that was perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this – showing how little we know.

Team entry: Director: Thom Hoffman. Producer: Lizzie Crouch. Animator: Patrick Koduah. Animator: Victor Opeyokun. Malaria: How can changing the built environment reduce cases? First broadcast Health Check on BBC World News TV 11/05/2015

The judges said: Saying something really important, really well to a broad audience.

The Royal Society Radio Prize (NB: A prize for the best scripted/edited radio programme or podcast, supported by The Royal Society):

Team: Writer and presenter: James Piercy. Producer: Toby Murcott. My Head. Pier Production for BBC Radio 4 and World Service. First broadcast 06/05/20

The judges said: A brilliant original idea, delicately handled, blending accurate science with heart-rending human interest, top notch.

Best investigative journalism

Team entry: Maria Cheng & Raphael Satter. Botching Ebola, published by Associated Press, 20/03/2015

The judges said: The depth of investigation was impressive and this is an issue that has implications on a global scale

The NUJ Stephen White Award for best communication and reporting of science in a non science context.   This Award is made in memory of Stephen White a highly influential science communicator who sadly died in 2010.   The Award is possible due to a donation from Stephen’s widow Elizabeth.

Jennie Agg. Inside the metabolism room published in the Good Health section, Daily Mail 29/12/2015

The judges said: An extremely well targeted piece that tackles widely held beliefs to a very broad audience.

Best newcomer

Faye Kirkland, Freelance

The judges said: A real self starter with impressive investigative work reaching a large audience.

Faye Kirkland receives her award from Seema Kumar

Best student science blog

Sophie McManus receives her Award from Seema Kumar and Martin Ince


Sophie McManus, University of Cambridge. Women in Science - A Call to Arms. Biodetectives 09/03/2015

The judges said: A bold subject for a young writer, written with humour and packed full of evidence

Dr Katharine Giles Science blog award. In memory of Dr Katharine Giles, NERC Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Centre for Polar Observation and Measurement (CPOM) at UCL.

Alex Bellos, Alex Bellos's Adventures in Numberland, The Guardian

The judges said: Reveals amazement in a few tight sentences, drawing you in even if you sometimes get lost along the way.

The IOP student science publication award supported by IOP Publishing and the Institute of Physics

Alisha Aman & Aidan McFadden of TheGist receive their award from Seema Kumar


TheGIST- The Glasgow Insight into Science and Technology, University of Glasgow/University of Strathclyde

The judges said: A magazine that knows its audience, great mix of articles, in an accessible style.


The Young Scientists Journal, Herts and Essex High School

Lifetime Achievement Award 2016

Winner: Deborah Cohen, Editor BBC Radio Science Unit

Deborah Cohen and Georgina Ferry, ABSW Awards Ceremony

Introductory speech to Deborah Cohen given by Georgina Ferry at the ABSW Science Writers' Awards Ceremony

Sallie’s asked me to do this introduction so cryptically that you don’t guess who it is until I get to the end. This is uniquely difficult in the case of tonight’s winner but I’ll have a go.

I guess most of you like me have had portfolio careers, starting out in magazines or newspapers and then meandering through radio, TV or web content, veering off into corporate communications or settling down to a book or two.

But tonight’s winner found a niche early on and has stayed there ever since.

This person has produced a body of work of an extent and quality that I can’t imagine anyone else could match; has made engaging, accessible and challenging content without losing the trust of the scientific community; has trained a generation of successors to meet the same exacting standards; and has kept a clear vision for the place of science in a constantly evolving media landscape.

It’s the nature of our winner’s chosen occupation that its practitioners never become celebrities. Even their largest employer’s own website often doesn’t credit their work, and then it’s in print too small to read.

You’ve probably guessed that I’m talking about a radio producer. Tonight’s winner joined the BBC in 1979 as researcher in the Radio Science Unit, in short order became producer, senior producer. Since 1990, this person has been Science Editor for BBC Radio and subsequently took on the World Service science programmes as well. The literally thousands of programmes this producer has overseen run from the late lamented Science Now to the hugely popular Life Scientific and Infinite Monkey Cage.

I personally owe her a huge debt as she taught me everything I know about scripting and presenting for radio. With her ‘ear’ and her judgement, the programmes we made together have been the most enjoyable collaborations of my working life.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in giving a richly-deserved moment in the limelight to the winner of the 2016 ABSW Lifetime Achievement award – Deborah Cohen.