Judging panel for 2023 Royal Society Book Prize announced

25 July 2023

‘‘Great science writing is like a backstage pass at a sold-out show; a chance to see how the universe works in a way that awes and educates, that demystifies and reveals, that broadens the conversation, and most important of all, invites everyone in.’’ - Bonnie Garmus, 2023 Judge

The five-strong judging panel for the 2023 Royal Society Science Book Prize, supported by the Trivedi Family Foundation, was announced today, Wednesday 26 July 2023.

The Prize, which celebrates the best popular science writing from across the globe, will be chaired by University of Oxford and Royal Society Fellow Professor Alain Goriely, world-renowned for his development of a mathematical theory for biological growth, combining aspects of biology, mathematics, and mechanics. He is joined by a panel of representatives from the worlds of science and culture: author Bonnie Garmus, whose bestselling debut novel Lessons in Chemistry has a TV adaptation launching this autumn; neuroscientist and Royal Society University Research Fellow Rebecca Henry; actor and author Paterson Joseph; and the Daily Telegraph’s arts and entertainment editor, Anita Singh.

Over the past 35 years, the Prize has championed non-fiction books that use captivating narratives to open up science to a wider audience, and celebrates the collective joy of science writing. Recent winners have sharpened our perspective and expanded our scientific curiosity through exploring humanity’s legacy, as well as what’s to come (A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 billion years in 12 chapters by Henry Gee, 2022), showcased the remarkable world of fungi (Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake, 2021), and offered fresh insight into neurodiversity (Explaining Humans by Dr Camilla Pang, 2020).

In 2023, the judges will reaffirm the need for inspiring and engaging science writing in their search for the most captivating title from the past twelve months, at a time in which the influences of rapid scientific innovation increasingly shape our culture.

Chair of judges, Alain Goriely, commented: "I am thrilled to have been appointed as the Chair of the Judging Panel for the prestigious 2023 Royal Society Science Book Prize. As an avid reader and curious scientist, I am an ardent believer in the transformative power of scientific literature. Science books have the profound ability to inspire, ignite curiosity, and open portals to fascinating realms of knowledge. In an era marked by scepticism and misinformation, their role is ever more important to bring us to a more enlightened world. The task of identifying the most remarkable among them is both a delightful journey and a heavy responsibility."

A shortlist of six titles, selected from a total of 255 submissions published between 1 July 2022 and 30 September 2023, will be announced on 27 September. The winner of the 2023 Prize will be revealed at a ceremony on 27 November. The winner will receive a cheque for £25,000, with £2,500 awarded to each of the five shortlisted authors.

Ashok Trivedi, President of the Trivedi Family Foundation which was announced in February 2023 as the new supporter of the Prize in a five-year partnership, said: "Inspiring science writing has never been more important. There are so many stories to be told about our exploration of the world and how science is helping shape that world and improve our lives. The authors who bring those stories to life for new audiences deserve to be celebrated."