The judging panel has been announced for this year's Royal Society Science Book Prize, featuring professor Anne Osbourn as the chair of judges.
The poet and biologist will be joined by Blackwell's trade buying manager Katharine Fry, journalist Katy Guest, Royal Society research fellow Dr Kartic Subr, and actor and author Sophie Ward.
Osbourn commented: “It is a real honour and a privilege to be chairing the judging panel for the Royal Society Book Prize 2020. Science is an integral part of our lives. It is beautiful, diverse and vast. Science holds the key to the time-critical global challenges that we face, of ensuring food security, health, and environmentally sustainable ways of living.
“Over the last few months, we have seen Covid-19 spread across the planet and we have all experienced cleaner air and more audible birdsong as cars and planes went temporarily quiet. We have the world’s best scientists at the forefront of tackling the virus, to whom we are very grateful. My hope is that this pandemic has awakened the general public’s curiosity to learn more about the very pertinent issues we face but also a desire to unlock the wonderful mysteries of our world through science.
"The books that will be shortlisted and the ultimate winner of the Royal Society Book Prize 2020 will be those that make science a meeting place for all — adventures, stories, journeys, explorations that inspire, excite and open up new ways of thinking. I am very much looking forward to wallowing in the books and working with the panel to find the winner.”
The prize celebrates popular science books, and was won last year by Caroline Criado-Perez for her work Invisible Women (Chatto) which examines gender stereotyping.
Brian Cox, Royal Society professor for public engagement in science, added: “This year, more than ever before, Covid-19 has reminded us of the important role that science plays in our lives and in finding solutions to big, global challenges. It has also become increasingly clear that it’s never been more important that as many of us as possible are scientifically literate. In the context of this pandemic, it is vital that we are equipped to understand how to weigh the scientific information and advice being presented to us daily and to identify trusted sources of information in an uncertain world.
“Popular science writing certainly has an important role to play in developing our understanding of how science works. The books the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize champions every year embody the very best of science communication and engaging science storytelling. I look forward to discovering the books this year’s judges choose.”
A shortlist of six titles, selected from over 172 submissions published between 1st July 2019 and 30th September 2020, will be announced on 22nd September . The winner of this year's prize will be announced via a virtual awards ceremony in November.
The winner will receive a cheque for £25,000, with £2,500 awarded to each of the remaining shortlisted authors.