BBC Focus science writing competition winners announced © iStock

BBC Focus science writing competition winners announced

In conjunction with the UWE’s Science Communication Unit, aspiring science writers were invited to write an article about 'the science that will transform our future.' Find out who the winners and runners up are here.

In conjunction with the University of the West of England’s Science Communication Unit, aspiring science writers were invited to submit a 700-word article about the science that will transform our future. These articles were separated into two categories, 20 and under and 21 and over, and were judged by an expert panel of judges. These judges were:

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  • Dr Emma Weitkamp – Associate Professor in Science Communication, UWE
  • Andy Ridgway – Senior Lecturer in Science Communication, UWE
  • Graham Southorn – former Editor, BBC Focus magazine
  • David Shukman – the BBC’s Science Editor and a regular contributor to BBC Focus magazine

“We were impressed by the overall standard of entries” said the judges. “There is some real science writing talent out there and reading through the entries was a pleasure. Thank-you to everyone who took part.”

And without further ado, here are the winners and runners up of the 2015 science writing competition:


20 and under

WINNER: Emily Clements (aged 14): Charging Ahead with the Future

A look at research into the aluminium-ion based batteries that could replace today’s ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries and transform the way we store energy.

The judges said: “Emily’s story is a delight to read. It addresses an issue we are all obsessed with – keeping our mobile phones charged, and presents us with what looks like a feasible fix for a frustration we all face. Given Emily’s age, her writing is outstanding.”

RUNNER-UP: Bernard Sarmiento (aged 19): Neuroscience will Transform our Future

How neuroscientists are exploring one of ‘humanity’s final frontiers’, the human brain, and investigating ways to treat neurodegenerative diseases or enhance our abilities.

The judges said: “Using the explorer Roald Amundsen as a way to introduce a story about neuroscience is imaginative and catches the reader’s attention. Bernard has an engaging and authoritative writing style the ensures the reader stays hooked.”

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Amy Newman (aged 20): The Male Contraceptive Pill

Highlighting research currently taking place to develop a male contraceptive pill.

The judges said: “Tackling this topic is a brave undertaking and Amy explains the science with clarity. The only thing that is lacking is some consideration of the wider social issues that would surround the implementation of a male contraceptive pill.”


21 and over

WINNER: Emily Coyte (aged 24): The Spectrum in Your Pocket

Looking at the development of tiny spectrometers we could carry in our pockets and use to detect what’s inside everything from a glass of wine to a pill we’re about to take.

The judges said: “Emily’s choice of topic is original and she wrote about it with credibility and authority; she made a convincing case that this is technology we should sit up and pay attention to. She does this while explaining the science beautifully. Emily is clearly a talented writer.”

RUNNER UP: Matthew Warren (aged 26): Brain Stimulation Could Revolutionise Treatment of Depression

Exploring the science of transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) and how it could be used as a treatment for depression.

The judges said:  “Matthew started his article with an account of being involved with research himself and this grabs the reader’s attention from the outset. He has a lively, direct writing style and addresses the cons as well as the pros of tDCS. We admire his bravery in letting himself be a guinea pig in research!”


You can read the winning entries here.

The competition was organised by the University of the West of England’s Science Communication Unit, which provides courses in science writing and all other forms of science communication in conjunction with Focus, the BBC’s science magazine.


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