Judging panel for 2022 Royal Society Science Book Prize Announced

26 July 2022

"It is hugely exciting to be involved in judging this prize and for me a crash course in areas of science of which I knew little or nothing. Good, accessible science writing is more important than ever at a time when public understanding of issues such as climate change is vital and the quantity of misinformation on social media seems to grow by the day."

Rory Cellan-Jones, 2022 judge

The five-strong judging panel for the 2022 Royal Society Science Book Prize, sponsored by Insight Investment, was announced today.

The Prize, which celebrates the best popular science writing from across the globe, will be chaired by neuroscientist Professor Maria Fitzgerald whose work is internationally recognised for its impact on pain management in infants and children. She is joined by a panel of representatives from the worlds of science and culture: writer, broadcaster and technology consultant Rory Cellan-Jones; novelist Mike Gayle; TV presenter and author Kate Humble; and experimental physicist and Royal Society University Research Fellow Dr Josh Mcfayden.

Over the past 34 years, the Prize has promoted the accessibility and collective joy of science writing. It has celebrated game-changing titles which have illuminated the wonders of science, attaining a broader cultural resonance via compelling writing and a unique voice. Previous winners have captured readers’ imaginations through the remarkable world of fungi (Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake, 2021), offered fresh insight into everyday living (Explaining Humans by Dr Camilla Pang, 2020), and offered a powerful interrogation of gender bias (Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, 2019). In 2022, the judges renew their search for the most captivating science writing of the past twelve months, following a period during which the need for effective science communication became increasingly prevalent. 

Chair of judges, Professor Maria Fitzgerald, commented: “I am delighted to be chairing the judging panel for this essential prize which celebrates the vital importance of science books. Throughout my career, I have repeatedly seen the value of clear and eloquent writing to convey complex ideas, creating a lasting impact in science, culture a

nd society. As a Fellow of the Royal Society, it is a particular honour to celebrate this exciting element of the Society’s legacy in the world of science and beyond.”

A shortlist of six titles, selected from a total of 219 submissions published between 1 July 2021 and 30 September 2022, will be announced in September. The winner of the 2022 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, a member of the Executive Management Committee at Insight Investment, sponsor of the Prize, said: “This prestigious prize is all about sharing ideas and helping people better understand the world around them. By making complex ideas accessible, skilled science writers introduce readers to untold histories and realities which might otherwise be hidden, from the intricacies of the natural world to the biochemistry of what it means to be human, and extraordinary tech innovations to the secrets of our universe. We look forward to hearing which books have been selected for this year’s prize and hope as many people as possible find time to enjoy them.”