Summer School

After consideration of two hundred and seventy entries, the judges have decided on the finalists in this year’s Association of British Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Tuesday 28 May 2019 in the Science Museum’s new Illuminate event space. 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.  

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 – on the shortlist, and several 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 over the last few years. We hope to make them even bigger and better next year!” 


British science journalist of the year

Catherine Brahic, Science correspondent at The Economist

Elizabeth Gibney, Senior reporter, Nature news and features, SpringerNature

Katia Moskvitch, Space editor, WIRED UK, CondeNast


Editor of the year (new award in 2019)

Paul Brackley, Editor, Cambridge Independent

Chrissie Giles, Editor, Mosaic, Wellcome

Amit Katwala, Freelance Editor, Professional Engineering


The Steve Connor Award for investigative journalism

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.

Team entry: Hannah Devlin and Sarah Marsh. Revealed: the ‘ingrained’ bullying at UK universities. First published in The Guardian.

Mark Peplow (Freelance). Controversy highlights flaws of U.K. research integrity system. First published in Chemical & Engineering News.

Michael Power (Freelance). Shanghai Sting: Undercover assignment in a Chinese MDMA precursor factory. First published in MixMag.


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

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

Amit Katwala (Freelance). The unending hunt for Planet Nine, our solar system's hidden world. First published in Wired UK

Linda Nordling. How decolonization could reshape South African science. First published in Nature

Quirin Schiermeier. Climate as Culprit. First published in Nature


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

Jane Feinmann (freelance). Nobody wants to talk about catheters. Our silence could prove fatal. First published by Mosaic, Wellcome

Margaret Harris. The quantum Y2K moment. First published by Physics World (online)

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


News item of the year

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

Michael Marshall (freelance). Meet your unknown ancestor. First published in New Scientist

Clare Wilson. Choose your child's Intelligence. First published in New Scientist


The Royal Society Radio Prize

Team entry: Science Correspondent/Presenter - Victoria Gill, Producer – Andrew Luck-Baker. The Sisters of the Sacred Salamander. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Team entry: Producer - Anna Lacey, Presenter - Geoff Marsh, Sound Design - Peregrine Andrews. CrowdScience: Why do drivers zone out? A BBC Radio Science Unit production first broadcast on BBC World Service.

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.

Special mention:

The judges wanted to congratulate producer Alexandra Feachem, and presenters Brian Cox and Robin Ince on the 100th episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage broadcast on BBC Radio. The judges said the programme still sounds “fresh, funny and fact-packed” after 100 episodes.


Scripted or edited TV programme or online video of the year

Team entry: Executive Producer - Steve Crabtree, Producer and Director - Fiona Lloyd-Davies, Series Producer - Rob Liddell. Horizon: My Amazing Brain - Richard's War. First broadcast on BBC Two

Team entry: Commissioning Editor – Richard Fisher, Reporter and presenter - Lee Johnson, Director and filmmaker - Adam Proctor. Searching for Starlite. Broadcast on BBC Reel (online) and BBC World News

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 

Team entry: Producer and presenter - Melissa Hogenboom, Series producer and director - Pierangelo Pirak. Sicily's unusual world of the dead. First broadcast on BBC Reel (online)


Innovation of the year (new award in 2019)

Team entry: Director/Producer/Writer - Noah Baker, Puppeteers - 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.

Team entry: Simon Bowers, European coordinator and senior reporter, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists       plus almost one hundred journalists from thirty European media outlets across sixteen countries. The Implant Files: an innovative collaboration in science journalism. Example article submitted: The implant files. In the UK this article was published by the BMJ.

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).


Local or regional journalist of the year (new award 2019)

Because of the low number of entries it was decided not to make an award in 2019. The ABSW Board will work to develop awareness of this award for 2020.


The NUJ Stephen White Award for communication and reporting of science in a non-science context

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

Martha Henriques (Freelance). Order & Chaos. First published in TANK magazine

Olivia Midgley. More to do in TB battle. First published in Farmers Guardian


The Dr Katharine Giles science blog award

Team entry: Editors - Nick Peel, Gabriella Beer, Katie Roberts and Ethan Meyers. Cancer Research UK Science blog          

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

Team entry: Founding editor/writer - Dr Christian Jarrett, Staff writers - Emma Young and Dr Alex Fradera. BPS Research Digest             


Newcomer of the Year

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

Elisabeth Mahase, Deputy News Editor, Pulse Magazine, for work first published in Pulse

Matthew Warren, Freelance, for work first published in Nature and Science


Student science journalist of the year

Charlotte Hartley, Durham University. On genes, ancestry, and why we're all descended from royalty. First published on The Bubble (online).

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

Katrina Wesencraft, University of Strathclyde. LAWless: Should We Ban Killer Robots? First published in TheGist


Science under the microscope award

There is no shortlist for this award. The winner is chosen by the judges from all shortlisted entries and announced at the awards ceremony.    


Lifetime achievement award

There is no shortlist for this award and the winner will be announced at the awards ceremony.


European science journalist of the year

The shortlist for this award will be announced at a later date, and 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