They are joined by: Channel 4 anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy, science journalist and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science Dr Adam Rutherford, electrical engineer Dr Jo Shien Ng and Guardian Books Editor Claire Armitstead.
The Prize has worked with many eminent judges over its illustrious 28-year history, among them Ian McEwan, Terry Pratchett, Brian Cox, David Attenborough, Tracy Chevalier and Michael Frayn.
Founded in 1988, (and previously known under various banners including the Royal Society Prize for Science Books, Aventis Prize and Rhône-Poulenc Prize), the Prize celebrates outstanding popular science books from around the world and is open to authors of science books written for a non-specialist audience. Over the decades it has championed writers such as Stephen Hawking, Jared Diamond, Stephen Jay Gould and Bill Bryson.
Sarah Waters said: “Although I was very interested in science as a child, I've been more at home, as an adult, with literature and theatre. So I'm not a traditional science buff by any means, but fundamentally I'm still interested in how things work, in systems and in processes, and I’m keen to reconnect with that. I am awed by the range of knowledge that is being brought to the table by my fellow judges, and I'm looking forward to what's sure to be a lively judging process. The great thing about this Prize is that it celebrates accessibility as well as expertise, and I think my novelist's perspective will be a very useful one.”
Judge Adam Rutherford added: “Last year marked the first time a scientist joined the Man Booker judging panel, but by comparison, this Prize has a long history of inviting expertise from non-scientists. This panel has been assembled by The Royal Society precisely because we’ve all got different interests and talents – a sort of hybrid of the Bloomsbury Set and The Avengers. These books are for everyone, and it's important that we judge not just the science but also the quality, clarity and beauty of the writing.”
Chair of judges Ian Stewart said: “I’m honoured to have been chosen to chair the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books judging panel. The Prize is a marvellous way to recognise the achievements of authors who write about science for the general public, as well as emphasise the importance of public engagement with science.”
The shortlist for the Prize will be announced in early August, and the winner crowned at an evening ceremony on 24 September. The winner will receive a cheque for £25,000, with £2,500 awarded to each of the five shortlisted authors.