This year's IOP-STFC Physics Journalism Prize has been awarded to Cynthia Graber for her feature 'Electric Shock: Could electricity be the key to unlocking human regeneration?, published at MATTER.
In the award-winning article, Cynthia, a freelance print and radio journalist based in Massachusetts, investigates the work of Professor Michael Levin, the Director of Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, to improve our understanding of the role electricity plays in regenerating living cells.
The judges of this year's prize were unanimous in their decision to award the prize to Cynthia, highlighting and praising Cynthia's ability to bring the intrigue of Professor Levin's work to life while still accurately portraying the scientific process.
The judges were particularly delighted to be awarding the prize – designed to inspire the next generation of physicists by encouraging journalists to grapple with often complex topics and help spread excitement about the subject – for an article which highlights the inter-disciplinary nature of physics research.
Professor Dame Athene Donald, an honorary fellow of the Institute of Physics (IOP), Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge and one of the prize's judges, said, "It was a joy to read this intriguing article by Cynthia and it was good to see the winning entry demonstrate such an interesting example from the breadth of issues for which physics is so pertinent.
"Too often physics is thought of as quite a narrow, self-contained subject, instead of as a way of thinking that underpins many other disciplines."
Professor Donald was joined on the judging panel by the editor of HE, Alison Goddard, Martin Ince from the Association of British Science Writers, the Chief Executive of the British Science Association, Imran Khan, and the Head of Communications from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Terry O'Connor.
Imran Khan added, "Cynthia tells an entertaining story, but also takes the reader on a scientific journey and reveals the nature of how science works – we see decades of intricate research undertaken, and moments of creative and deductive genius along the way.
"I found it especially pleasing that Electric Shock won, as it was a relatively unusual entry. Not only did it appear in an outlet which is exploring a new business model for making science writing sustainable and accessible, the content of the piece also crossed traditional disciplinary boundaries. More like this next year, please!"
On receiving the award, Cynthia responded, "While I don't often report stories that are exclusively about physics, physics has been a primary force in many stories I've written throughout my career, from renewable energy to biology.
"I'm thrilled to be recognized by IOP and STFC for this story, which I believe highlights one of the crucial roles physics plays in our biology. Levin's research demonstrates that surprising new insights can come from bridging two often divided realms."
Founding editor of MATTER, Jim Giles, said, "Science journalists frequently do a good job of explaining new research, but they often overlook something important about the subject they cover: Science is a human endeavor.
"The decisions and insights and mistakes that scientists make are tied to their personalities, as Cynthia's story makes clear. Her story is a superb illustration of how the long-form approach, which is so rarely applied to science, can be used to examine these connections."
Along with receipt of the 2013 trophy, Cynthia will be attending the AAAS meeting in Chicago, the annual meeting of the world's largest general scientific society, and visiting a range of physics facilities in both the US and the UK.
As 2013's prize winner is announced, IOP and STFC open the 2014 Physics Journalism Prize.
This coming year's winner will be offered a travel grant of up to £5,000 to enable them to investigate a physics-related story of their choice.
For full terms and conditions, see http://www.iop.org/about/awards/additional/journalism/page_61098.html
Notes to Editors
For further information, please contact IOP's Head of Media, Joe Winters
Tel: 020 7470 4815
Mob: 07946 321473
2. The Institute of Physics
The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application.
We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications. Visit us at http://www.iop.org. Follow us on Twitter @physicsnews
3. The Science and Technology Facilities Council
The Science and Technology Facilities Council is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security.
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4. Association of British Science Writers
Founded in 1947, the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) is the professional organisation for science writers in the UK. Its 600 members write everything from news stories to books and TV programmes. It runs the UK's science journalism awards, holds the UK Conference of Science Journalists, and helps entrants to the profession to expand their skills. It is a leading member of the World Federation of Science Journalists and is involved in promoting science journalism in the developing world. More at http://www.absw.org.uk/.
5. The British Science Association
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It seeks to achieve that by connecting science with people: promoting openness about science in society and affirming science as a prime cultural force through engaging and inspiring adults and young people directly with science and technology, and their implications.
Established in 1831, the British Science Association organises major initiatives across the UK, including the annual British Science Festival, National Science & Engineering Week, programmes of regional and local events, and an extensive programme for young people in schools and colleges.
The British Science Association is a charity established under Royal Charter and governed by a Council which forms the Board of Trustees. It is registered with the Charity Commission (number 212479) and with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (number SC039236). For more information, visit http://www.britishscienceassociation.org.
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