The winners will have their work printed in the 'Guardian' or the 'Observer', receive a £1,000 cash prize and benefit from a science writing workshop at the 'Guardian'.
From the ethics of reproductive medicine to the threat of nuclear meltdown following an earthquake, science writers have the formidable task of informing, educating and engaging the public on the contentious scientific issues affecting society today.
The new competition invites non-professional science writers based in the UK to submit short articles of no more than 800 words that address an area of science in an accessible way and would be suitable for publication in the 'Guardian' or the 'Observer' (and on their respective websites). The articles should show a passion for science and encourage the general public to consider, question and debate the key issues in science and society. Both traditional newspaper features and web-based features that use the medium in an innovative and appropriate way will be considered.
The judges are looking for originality, bright ideas and a distinctive writing style. Entrants must demonstrate that they have thought about and understood their audience: the curious public.
Prizes will be awarded in two categories: the first is for professional, funded scientists of postgraduate level and above, and the second is open to anyone with a non-professional interest in science, including undergraduate students.
The judging panel includes Alan Rusbridger, Editor-in-Chief of Guardian News & Media, Robin McKie, Science and Technology Editor for the Observer, Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, and Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust. The panel will be chaired by Dara O Briain, producer, television presenter and stand-up comedian, noted for hosting topical panel shows such as 'The Panel' and 'Mock the Week'.
Speaking about the new Prize, Alan Rusbridger said: "The 'Guardian' recognises the importance and power of science writing. When we launched our science blogs network last year our key aim was to 'entertain, enrage and inform', and we provide an accessible space for experts to debate topical science issues with our readers as well as academics. The Wellcome Trust's new award, aimed at aspiring writers, is a great way for us to connect with those doing exciting things in the field of science, and we look forward to showcasing the winners' work."
Sir Mark Walport added: "The ability to capture the beauty, complexity and excitement of science in words and convey this to a curious public is an important and rare skill. In launching this Prize, we aim to recognise the contribution of outstanding writers to telling the stories of science, and inspire the next generation of great science writers."
The deadline for entries is 20 May 2011, with the awards event scheduled to take place in London on 12 October 2011.
The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust’s breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.