Young Science Writer of the Year

Looks like the Guardian and Wellcome Trust are taking up the young science writer gauntlet with a new award. Winning an award like that can be a great start to a career in science communication.

If I remember rightly, I first entered the Daily Telegraph Young Science Writer of the year awards in 1990 after I returned from an extended trip to Australia. I wrote about the world’s biggest organism having the world’s biggest orgasm (the annual spawning of the Great Barrier Reef) and was a runner-up that year receiving and the next year I think I got a merit award, but I cannot remember for which article. It was my next entry that netted me the First Prize in 1992. That year it was an item entitled “Not every sperm is sacred” (alluding to the classic Monty Python song from The Meaning of Life) about the ins and outs of fertilisation, sperm selection in humans and the manual research techniques used to obtain samples. All very ooh-err missus, which was obviously a hit with the judges.

At the awards ceremony in Southampton (1992′s BA meeting), Roger Highfield quoted me as saying I’d like to one day oust him from his science editor’s desk at the Telegraph. Well, that never happened and his DT desk no longer exists (Roger is now editor of New Scientist), but I have been pretty active in science communication ever since, as some of you may have spotted. And, if I feel like name dropping I can always tell you about the time I built a hump-back bridge with Sir David Attenborough who told us a tale of a Fellow who hadn’t twigged that trees are plants too…

Meanwhile, my fellow young science writer laureates are some of the most well-known names in scicomms, journalism and across the blogosphere, they include:

Ed Yong (2007) Not Exactly Rocket Science
Phillip Broadwith (2006) Chemistry World
Yfke Van Bergen (2005) Times Higher Education Supplement
Claire Bithell (2003) Royal Institution
Kate Ravilious (2000) The Guardian
Lynn Dicks (1999) Freelance science writer
Ian Sample (1998) The Guardian
Tom Wakeford (1996) Freelance science writer
Nick Flowers (1995) Freelance science writer
Katie Mantell (1995) SciDev.net
Sharon Ann Holgate (1994) Freelance science writer
Bob Ward (1993) Royal Society
Harriet Coles (1993) Nature
David Bradley (1992) Freelance science writer
Francesca Happe (1991)
Clive Oppenheimer (1990)

If you were placed in a past young science writers awards and I’ve overlooked you, please let me know.

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5 thoughts on “Young Science Writer of the Year

  1. Via email:

    I was given second prize in the year that I entered, 2004, and it really set me up for my career. Off the back of that award (and the publication of my winning article in the DT) I was approached by a publishers and offered a publishing contract to write my first book: ‘Life in the Universe: A Beginner’s Guide’, and have been freelancing regularly ever since. I’ve got feature articles this month in BBC Focus and Sky at Night magazines. The DT award even set me down the path I took for my PhD – I met my supervisor-to-be at the British Science Association Festival that the DT sent me to as part of the prize. I can’t even begin to think how differently things might have gone had it not been for the DT writing prize, and I’m so glad to see that the Guardian are now taking up the mantle!

    Lewis Dartnell

  2. Thanks for the heads-up Phillip. Sadly, my winning piece doesn’t exist online (as far as I know), it pre-dated the public web somewhat :-( I might try and dig out the original print version from my archives and scan it…

  3. Hi David,

    You can add me to your list if you like – I slot in in 2006 between Yfke and Ed. My DT piece is still more or less my top google hit, despite all I’ve done since http://bit.ly/flFD0o

    Now Acting Features Editor for Chemistry World

    Keep up the good work,

    Phillip

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