Sweden’s best science communicator revealed

Press release 6 December 2013

Andreas Ohlin, a researcher at Örebro University, has won the Swedish 2013 Researchers’ Grand Prix – the national competition in which contestants must present their research in a very short amount of time.  He was selected as the winner by an expert panel of judges and the audience on 5 December in Stockholm.

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Prize recognises scientists who stand up for science

In today’s society, scientists don’t just need to tell the public about their research. They must also be able to defend it, particularly if the research has social implications and is of high public interest. This is what a recently launched UK prize acknowledges.

The John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science is an annual prize that was established in 2012. It is awarded by the UK organisation Sense about Science, to recognise scientists who have shown courage in promoting science and evidence on a matter of public interest and in the face of adversity.

The classification of drugs is a particular controversial policy issue that causes much social and political debate. The recipient of the 2013 Prize is David Nutt, Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, for his work championing evidence-based discussions of drug-related policy issues.

In 2008, Professor Nutt was appointed chairman of the UK Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, a role that involved making scientific recommendations to government ministers on the classification of illegal drugs based on the harm they can cause. After speaking out about the Government’s policies on drugs being at odds with the scientific evidence, Professor Nutt was dismissed from his role.  Despite ongoing opposition and public criticism, he continues to defend scientific evidence related to this controversial policy area.

Professor Nutt acknowledges that his dismissal actually gave the issues the media debate they needed at the time and it subsequently led to the creation of the Principles for the Treatment of Independent Scientific Advice that are now part of the UK Government’s Ministerial Code.

Sir Mark Walport, the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser commented “A key part of the process of science is communication. For too long there has been a focus solely on effective communication amongst scientists and not enough attention paid to excellent communication by scientists with broader public audiences. The John Maddox prize is important and should serve as an encouragement to scientists to engage in public communication, especially on those difficult issues that are in danger of being hijacked by single issue lobbyists with little respect for scientific evidence or the rigour of science.”

The Prize is named after John Maddox, editor of the science journal Nature for 22 years, who strove for better public understanding and appreciation of science. The Prize is a joint initiative of Nature, the Kohn Foundation and the charity Sense about Science and is open to nominations from outside the UK.

Helen Garrison

Let’s Talk Science – new best practice manual for science communicators

Are you planning a science communication event? A new best practice manual provides advice on key elements to make your event successful, attract new audiences, identify topics, and define content and structure. Evaluation methodology and checklists are also included.

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Science matters: 300 cities celebrate Researchers’ Night

Robotic shows, live link-ups with NASA scientists, energy-generating dancing, murder mysteries to solve and real-time outdoor projections of the sun. These were just a few of the thousands of free activities that took place on 27 September at the 2013 Researchers’ Night – Europe’s largest science festival.

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26/8-2013 Researchers battle to win the audience’s votes

Press Release 26/08/2013

It should be fast-paced, understandable and above all exciting. The Researcher Grand Prix competition was run for the first time last year. Now it is time for researchers in different scientific fields to step into the spotlight. This year’s 60 contestants will be talking about leg amputations, login security, the Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf and many other subjects – in just three minutes.

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Public confidence in research declines

Press release 25 June 2013

Public confidence in scientists has increased in the past year. Whereas, at the same time, confidence in research conducted in Sweden has declined. These are the findings of a new survey carried out by VA (Public & Science) and the SOM Institute at the University of Gothenburg.

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20/5 2013 – Children to help researchers map climate change

Press release 20 May 2013

Is climate change leading to a delay in when leaves turn colour in the autumn? Pupils from across Sweden will be helping researchers determine how the climate is affecting the growing season of plants and the onset of autumn. This mass experiment is part of the science festival Researchers’ Night.

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New climate survey hopes to improve public understanding

There is an overwhelming consensus among scientists on the causes of climate change − with 97 percent agreeing that it is mainly the result of human activity. At the same time Americans question the agreement among scientists that global warning is a result of human actions.

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