A British Academy Fellow has won a prestigious £25,000 award for popular science writing.
At a ceremony on Monday night, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, scooped the Royal Society's Insight Investment Science Book Prize for her book, Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain, in which she seeks to demonstrate how the human brain develops during adolescence and how previously unknown details of this process mean society’s treatment of the often-maligned group should change.
The prize, which has existed since 1988, celebrates outstanding popular science writing and authors. Each year a panel of judges comprising eminent scientists, authors, journalists and broadcasters choose the book that they believe makes popular science writing compelling and accessible to the public. Previous notable winners include Cordelia Fine, Bill Bryson and Stephen Hawking.
Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft, who chaired the judges' panel, said Inventing Ourselves was “completely captivating” and “truly a book that everyone should read”.
The ceremony was presented by Professor Brian Cox OBE FRS, the Royal Society’s Professor for Public Engagement in Science. Of Professor Blakemore's book, he said: “The best science writing helps us to look at ourselves and our world in new ways, and does this by combining compelling storytelling with scientific depth and detail. This book not only has all of these qualities, but also has something to offer every reader - whether you are a teenager, parent of a teenager, or just interested in understanding your former teenage self."
Inventing Ourselves was chosen from a six-strong shortlist, including Lucy Cooke (The Unexpected Truth About Animals), Professor Daniel M Davis (The Beautiful Cure), Dr Hannah Fry (Hello World), Professor Mark Miodownik (Liquid) and Simon Winchester (Exactly). Professor Blakemore received a cheque for £25,000 at the ceremony and the five shortlisted authors were each awarded £2,500.