Summer School

At a ceremony held at the Science Museum’s new Illuminate event space last night (Tuesday 28 May), the winners of this year’s Association of British Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland were announced.

Gaia Vince, freelance science and environment journalist, and an award-winning broadcaster and author hosted the event. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Sir Philip Campbell Editor-in Chief of the publishing company Springer Nature and former Editor-in-Chief of Nature.   Pallab Ghosh, Science Correspondent BBC News, reflected on Sir Philip’s outstanding and influential career before announcing he had won the award.  

Mico Tatalovic, chair of the judging panel and of the ABSW said: “We have had a near-record number of entries this year, and the standard has been excellent, as usual, which made judging them difficult but also enjoyable.”

“It was great to see some new names – of both journalists and publications – among the winners, and several shortlisted entries that were published in non-science publications. It’s been a privilege to be a part of these awards and see them go from strength to strength. We hope to make them even bigger and better next year!”

The Awards are supported by Johnson & Johnson Innovation along with category support from the Royal Society, the Dr Katharine Giles Fund and NUJ/Stephen White Bequest.  

The full list of all finalists was announced on Friday 3 May 2019

All images: Trevor Aston Photography

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British science journalist of the year

Joint winners:

Catherine Brahic, Science correspondent at The Economist

The judges said: Catherine showed great range in reporting, writing, and editing. We were impressed with the unique topics and how the reporter’s curiosity exposed readers to new places and new ideas.

Katia Moskvitch, Business and space editor, Wired UK, CondeNast

The judges said: Katia showed great range and depth in reporting, seeking out different angles and bringing something new to readers. The judges really enjoyed reading their work. 

Catherine and Katia will now be entered as the British entrants for European Science Journalist of the Year award, the winners of which will be announced at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Lausanne, Switzerland, in July.


Editor of the year (new award in 2019)

Amit Katwala, Freelance Editor, Professional Engineering

The judges said: The magazine this editor recently relaunched is so well produced and compelling, it deserves a far wider audience.


The Steve Connor Award for investigative journalism - made in memory of Steve Connor, award winning journalist and science editor of The Independent, who sadly died in 2017.

Team entry: Madlen Davies, Rahul Meesaraganda and Ben Stockton. A game of chicken: How Indian poultry farming is creating global superbugs. First published on The Bureau of Investigative Journalism website, and subsequently in The Times, The Lancet Journal of Infectious Diseases and The Hindu.

The judges said: A tremendous amount of thorough work in a potentially life-saving investigation.


Feature of the year – general (new award in 2019)

Hal Hodson. The network within, the network without. First published in The Economist.

The judges said: Utterly gripping, a strong human element and equally strong science to back it up.


Feature of the year – specialist (new award in 2019)

Alex Riley (freelance). How a wooden bench in Zimbabwe is starting a revolution in mental health. First published by Mosaic, Wellcome

The judges said: Beautifully written with strong characters, full of hope and constantly surprising.


News item of the year

Hannah Devlin. Scientists set to grow miniature brains using Neanderthal DNA. First published in The Guardian

The judges said: We were absolutely blown away by this amazing idea; it was completely exclusive and original.


The Royal Society Radio Prize

Team entry: Producer – Jim Taylor, Presenter - Anna Foster, Multi-media Producer - Nick Garnett, Assistant Editor - Clare Fordham. BBC Radio 5 Live - Women of Nasa. Three hour live outside broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live.

The judges said: They gave their unique voice to many aspects of complex science and engineering, and to women’s involvement, but with a refreshing lightness of touch.


Scripted or edited TV programme or online video of the year

Team entry: Video producer - Jennifer Green, Animator - Jules Bartl, Voice-over/scripting - Marnie Chesterton. How trees secretly talk to each other. First broadcast by CrowdScience (online), BBC World Service 

The judges said: Beautiful and engaging, you really learned something new from this novel format.


Innovation of the year (new award in 2019)

Joint winners:

Team entry: Noah Baker, George Glover, Eti Meacock, Bori Mezo. The tale of the Edith’s Checkerspot: Butterflies in an evolutionary trap. First broadcast by Nature (online). Behind the scenes video exploring how the film was made.

The judges said: they used a novel form of illustration that made the understanding of this story effortless, it was gorgeous and stunning showing that art and science can truly merge.

Team entry: Science Editor - Robert McSweeney, Multimedia Journalist - Rosamund Pearce, Digital Content Manager – Thomas Harrisson, Junior Content Producer – Tom Prater. The impacts of climate change at 1.5C, 2C and beyond.  First published by Carbon Brief (online). 

The judges said:They put the terrifying truth about global warming at everyone’s fingertips – really smart and useful.


The NUJ Stephen White Award for 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.

Clive Cookson. Scientists discover the origins of gold in space. First published in the Financial Times Watches & Jewellery Special Report

The judges said: A beautifully written and brilliant piece of science journalism where you would least expect to find it.


The Dr Katharine Giles science blog award - This award is supported by the Dr Katharine Giles Fund

Team entry: PhD Students - Mark Kearney, Arendse Lund, Josephine Mills and Anna Pokorska. UCL Researchers in Museums Blog

The judges said: A fresh, fun and innovative approach from this academic team.


Newcomer of the Year

Mary Halton, Assistant Editor TED Conferences/Freelance, for work first published by BBC News online

The judges said: A great eye for stories on a variety of topics that were well-researched and told from a variety of angles.


Student science journalist of the year

Kirstin Leslie, University of Glasgow. Digital pills: Big Data or Big Brother? First published in TheGIST.

The judges said: Thoroughly engaging writing about their own research subject which is difficult to do so successfully.


Science under the microscope award

Quirin Schiermeier. Climate as Culprit. First published in Nature

The judges said: Linking climate with extreme weather is so important and this story uncovered the people doing exactly this.


Lifetime achievement award

Sir Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief Springer Nature


European science journalist of the year

The winner will be announced at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Lausanne, in July.


About the Awards

The ABSW’s awards aim to reward excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics journalism and writing and are judged by a panel of credible and respected judges.

The ABSW’s science writers' awards ran continuously from 1966 to 2007, with the support of a variety of sponsors. Over the years, the awards became the ‘Oscars’ of science writing, and served as a model for similar schemes all over the world. With support from Johnson & Johnson Innovation the ABSW re-established the awards in 2010 and through their continued support the Awards are now secure into the future. The Royal Society, IOP publishing and the Institute of Physics, Good Thinking, NUJ/Stephen White Bequest, the Dr Katharine Giles Fund and Richard Gregory have also supported the Awards enabling additional categories and prize money.

New in 2019: Editor of the Year; Local or regional journalist of the year; Innovation of the Year;  Feature of the year – general; Feature of the year – specialist; The Steve Connor award for investigative journalism now made in memory of Steve Connor, award winning journalist and science editor of The Independent, who sadly died in 2017.

The 2019 Awards - rules and regulations

The 2019 Awards – judges


For further details contact:

Sallie Robins

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07733 330344