Judging panel for 2021 Royal Society Science Book Prize announced

21 July 2021

Science communication has always been very important, to entertain, inform and inspire. This has never been more relevant than this year.

Professor Luke O’Neill

The five-strong judging panel for this year’s Royal Society Science Book Prize, sponsored by Insight Investment, has been revealed. 

The Prize – which celebrates the very best in popular science writing from around the world – will be chaired in 2021 by world-leading immunologist, presenter and writer, Professor Luke O’Neill FRS. He is joined on the panel by representatives from across the worlds of science and culture: television presenter, Ortis Deley; mathematician and Dorothy Hodgkin Royal Society Fellow, Dr Anastasia Kisil; author and creative writing lecturer, Christy Lefteri, and journalist, writer and film maker, Clive Myrie.

For 33 years, the Prize has promoted the accessibility and joy of popular science writing. It has celebrated some truly game-changing reads: books that offer fresh insights on the things that affect the lives we lead and the decisions we make, from neurodiverse perspectives on everyday living (Explaining Humans by Dr Camilla Pang, 2020) to gender bias (Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, 2019) and the harms humans are wreaking on the planet (Adventures in the Anthropocene by Gaia Vince, 2015, and Six Degrees by Mark Lynas, 2008). In 2021, the judges renew their search for the most compelling science writing of the last year, at a time when the power of effective science communication is valued more highly than ever before.

Chair of judges, Professor Luke O’Neill, FRS, commented: “I’m delighted to be chairing the judging panel for the 2021 Royal Society Science Book Prize. Science communication has always been very important, to entertain, inform and inspire. This has never been more relevant than this year, with scientists engaging with the public across all media on a daily basis because of Covid-19. A tremendously interesting number of books have been nominated this year, across a huge range of topics, making our job very enjoyable but also challenging. Science communication is clearly in very good hands.”

A shortlist of six titles, from a record number of more than 240 submissions published between 1st July 2020 and 30th September 2021, will be announced in September. The winner of the 2021 Prize will be revealed at a ceremony in November. The winner will receive a cheque for £25,000, with £2,500 awarded to each of the five shortlisted authors.

Angus Woolhouse, Global Head of Distribution at Insight Investment, sponsor of the Prize, said: “It’s hard to think of a time when engaging science communication has been needed more. It takes skill and passion to write about science in a way that is appealing and accessible to a broad audience, and to challenge conventional thinking by providing original perspectives on subjects which may previously have been viewed as fact. Insight are privileged to support this prestigious prize. We congratulate The Royal Society and the talented authors entering the Prize this year. We hope as many people as possible get to enjoy the shortlisted books.”