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Stuff Matters wins Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

11 November 2014

Mark Miodownik’s Stuff Matters has been named as the winner of the 2014 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books at an event hosted by anatomist, author and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts. The £25,000 prize is the world’s leading award for popular science books. Stuff Matters, published by Viking (an imprint of Penguin Books), takes the reader on a journey through the materials that shape the man-made world.

A delighted Mark Miodownik said: “This matters such a lot to me. I am surprised, honoured and very very happy!”

The £25,000 prize was awarded to materials scientist, TV presenter and author, Mark Miodownik by Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Prize-winning President of the Royal Society at a ceremony at the Society’s headquarters in London. Miodowniks ‘sparkling and very personal’ tale was chosen unanimously as the winner by the judges, despite coming up against some strong competitors on the shortlist, including Mary Roach’s Gulp and George Johnson’s The Cancer Chronicles

Professor Nicky Clayton FRS, Chair of the judges, said: “Mark Miodownik’s Stuff Matters stood out from the start of the judging process and the decision to name it winner was a unanimous one. This book is very special - it leaves you with a feeling of being intellectually curious and inspired by everything around you and by all the marvellous feats that our species has accomplished. It’s a very personal and engaging story. Reading Stuff Matters, you can’t help but be enthralled by things you didn’t even know you were interested in to begin with.” 

The six shortlisted books were:

The Cancer Chronicles by George Johnson

The Perfect Theory by Pedro G. Ferreira

Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik

Serving the Reich by Philip Ball

Seven Elements That Have Changed The World by John Browne

Gulp by Mary Roach 

Each of the shortlisted authors receives £2,500. The first chapter of each book is available to download for free.

The judges on this year’s judging panel were: Professor Nicola Clayton FRS (Chair), Professor of Comparative Cognition at the University of Cambridge and Scientist in Residence at Rambert (formerly Rambert Dance Company); Dr Nathalie Vriend, Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge; Emma Read, Head of Factual and Features at ITN Productions; Michael Frayn, playwright and novelist, best known as the author of the farce Noises Off and the dramas Copenhagen and Democracy; Lone Frank, former neuroscientist, journalist and author of My Beautiful Genome, shortlisted for the 2012 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books. 

Commencing in 2011, the global investment management company Winton Capital Management agreed a five year sponsorship deal of the prize. 

David Harding, Chairman and CEO of Winton Capital Management said:  “This year, the judges had a particularly difficult decision to make in choosing a winner from a strong field of popular science books. We are delighted that this prize helps raise awareness of science and the influence it has in our daily lives. We congratulate Mark Miodownik on his storytelling ingenuity.“