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The winners of the 2018 Association of British Science Writers’ (ABSW) Awards for Great Britain and Ireland were announced at an Awards Ceremony tonight (Wednesday 16 May) at the Royal Society in London.  

A record breaking 300 entries were considered by an independent panel of science journalists and science communicators who judged the entries based on originality, appeal to a broad audience, novelty of subject matter, likely impact, style, content, entertainment, balance and depth of reporting.  

The evening was hosted by David Shukman, Science Editor, BBC News.  Emma Kohring, Comms leader London Innovation Center, EMEA and Frederik Wittock, Comms leader science activation, EMEA, presented the Awards on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the Awards sponsors.

Chair of the judging panel, ABSW Chair and Knight Science Journalism Fellow, Mico Tatalovic said:

“This has been another great year for quality of entries, and I’ve immensely enjoyed chairing the judging panel and discussing the shortlisted entries. It was great to see so many strong and original entries across many categories. It reflects that we have amazing science journalism in the UK and Ireland coming from journalists at all stages of their careers. The sheer number of entries and their overall high quality did, of course, make judging tricky, but I am confident the panel has made the right choices.”

The Awards are supported by Johnson & Johnson Innovation with additional category support from The Royal Society, The Dr Katharine Giles Fund, and the NUJ/Stephen White Award.  2018 saw the introduction of the Champion of Science Award; an award that is presented to one of the shortlisted entrants whose work provides a real insight into the life and work of scientists.  The winner of the European Science Writer of the Year was not announced at the ceremony as this award will now be presented at the European Conference of Science Writers in Toulouse in July.

NB: Links are provided to articles/programmes/videos where possible

Best student science journalist

Katie Ember, University of Edinburgh for “Cosmic Heartbeats: the discovery of pulsars” published by EUSci (Edinburgh University's science magazine)

Of the winner the judges said:

A historical story, engaging and well told, nicely crafted and beautifully written; a real passion and flair for the story.

Best newcomer award

Eleni Courea, Reporter, Research Fortnight

Of the winner the judges said:

We were impressed that a journalist at this stage of their career is consistently breaking important stories and setting the agenda in their field.

Dr Katharine Giles Science blog award

An award made in memory of Dr Katharine Giles, NERC Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Centre for Polar Observation and Measurement (CPOM) at UCL.  The Award is supported by the Dr Katharine Giles Fund and Katharine’s mother Dorrie Giles attended the ceremony to present the award.  

Andy Brunning for Compound Interest

Of the winner the judges said:

The entries were diverse and much stronger than in previous years, there was great originality in ‘Poetry of Science’, and a wonderful human and realistic voice in ‘Geekfather’, the winner stood out to the judges for its great explanation of science, great choice of topics, and outstanding infographics.

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.   

Kat Arney for “Algorithm's gonna get you” published by Times Educational Supplement

Of the winner the judges said:

We enjoyed the deft use of humour that presented the potential upside of artificial intelligence in education.

Best investigative journalism

Hannah Devlin for “NHS data reveals ‘scandal’ of vaginal mesh removal rate” published by The Guardian

Of the winner the judges said:

A persistent investigation that uncovered an important story of public interest that might never otherwise have come to light.

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

Team: Producer - Michelle Martin, Presenter - Frank Swain for “Meet the Cyborgs” broadcast on BBC Radio 4

The judges wanted to give a special mention to the BBC World Service Strand ‘Crowdscience’ that is bringing high quality science programming to new audiences all around the world. 

Of the winner the judges said:

Timely, intelligent and really well recorded….it extended the realm of our senses.

Best scripted/edited television programme or online video

Team: Producer & Presenter – Victoria Gill, Cameraman and editor - David Cheeseman for “Songbirds for sale” a BBC news production broadcast on BBC News Channel and BBC World News Channel

Of the winner the judges said:

This well-crafted programme tackled complex issues with apparent simplicity making the most of sound and video, and with excellent team work.

Best news item

Team: Reporter - James Gallagher, Producer - Nicki Stiastny for “Huntington’s breakthrough may stop disease” broadcast on BBC News At Ten

Of the winner the judges said:

A classic science scoop, that made headline TV news, and was widely followed.  Ground-breaking but still balanced.

Best feature

Alison Abbott for “Venice gets a time machine” published in Nature

&

Heidi Ledford for “Cancer's cruel chimeras” published in Nature

In this category the judges decided on joint winners as:

They couldn’t decide between a bittersweet, but real story, tackling complex science and the complexities of doing science, and a story that is so well written it makes even databases sound exciting

British Science Writer of the Year and British entrant to European Science Writer of the Year

Hal Hodson, technology correspondent at The Economist

Of the winner the judges said: 

They were impressed with the wide range of original and complex topics this journalist covered, and by how they added a touch of magic to complex and potentially off putting science.

Champion of science award

Team: Series Editor - Steve Crabtree, Series Producer - Rob Liddell, Producer/Director - Toby Macdonald, Assistant Producer - Victoria Weaver for “Horizon: Goodbye Cassini - Hello Saturn” a BBC Studios for BBC2 and Discovery Science Channel production, broadcast on BBC 2

Of the winner the judges said:

A classic subject extremely well covered, bringing a human touch to the ringed planet and telling the stories of all the passionate scientists involved – true champions of science.   A must see!

Lifetime Achievement in Science Journalism

This award was made posthumously to Steve Connor former Science Editor of the Independent who sadly died in 2017.  His award was presented to his wife Ines Connor by Tim Radford former Science Editor of the Guardian at the Scientists Meet the Media Reception that followed the ABSW Awards Ceremony.

Award winners received a certificate and a cash prize and now enter the ABSW hall of fame that includes previous Award winners Sir David Attenborough, Sir John Maddox (Nature), and Judith Hann (BBC Tomorrow’s World).

The ABSW Awards 2018 in Pictures

For further information contact:

Sallie Robins, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 07733 330344

ABSW Calendar

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