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Brussels, 2 February 2007

From the lab into the limelight: EU announces nominees for the Descartes Prize for Science Communication

What's the best way to explain the wonders of Planet Earth, the story of the human genome, or the mysteries of medicinal plants? How can scientists make origins of biped transportation, ethical issues relating to animal to human transplants, or programmed cell suicide understandable? What's the relevance of the birth of the Mediterranean, deep sea ecosystems, or the art and science of ice crystals? Excellence in answering such questions has led to 33 European projects being nominated for the Descartes Prize for Science Communication. From these 33 nominees, 5 finalists and 5 winners will be selected to share this year's €275,000 prize. The winners will be announced on 7 March 2007 at a ceremony in Brussels, together with winners of the Descartes Prize for Scientific excellence, on the occasion of the "Today is the Future" event, celebrating the launch of the 7th Framework Programme for Research and 50 years of European Research.

The nomination for this year's Descartes Science Communication prize of 33 projects from 17 countries illustrates the extraordinary variety, depth and range of science communication initiatives across Europe. Nominees span a wide variety of areas - books, TV documentaries, films, youth magazines, press columns, interactive events, multimedia products, etc. – using a spectrum of innovative methods and technologies, from publishing through "science in the street," to broadband internet and podcasting. What these 33 projects have in common is exceptional talent and commitment by individuals and organisations in Europe to communicate complex scientific issues to a wide public, across different age groups and cultural backgrounds.

A high level expert panel of leading scientists and media professionals, chaired by Suzanne de Cheveigné of the French research institute CNRS, short-listed this year’s 33 nominees from a rich field of 80 submissions from across Europe, an increase of 30% over last year. Women science communicators were particularly prominent this year. So were young communicators, with the launch of a new category "Communicators at the start of their careers", in an effort to engage young people in science and science careers.

The competition is open to individuals and organisations that have achieved outstanding results in science communication, and have won prizes from European and/or national organisations. Its key objective is to stimulate public interest in science, and to reward key initiatives in that field. Rewarding excellence and raising the profile of science communication across Europe, the Descartes Communication prize also stimulates the launch of new science communication initiatives and awards.

Over the past three years, since the launch of the first Descartes Communication Prizes in 2004, a number of new science prizes and festivals have been created at the national level, for example in Estonia and France, further raising the profile of science communication and enlarging the pool of candidates for the Descartes competition.

Details of the nominees can be found in MEMO/07/43

For nominations for the Descartes Prize for Research Excellence, see IP/07/132 and MEMO/07/42


And the nominees are...


Professional scientists engaged in science communication to the public
Dr. Osmo Pekonen
Prof. Dr. Gerold Wefer
Prof. Fran Balkwill
United Kingdom
Jean-Marie Pelt and Alain de Sedouy
Prof. Steven Rose
United Kingdom
Ms Wendy Sadler
United Kingdom
Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond
Popularising science through the written word (newspaper articles, popular science books)
A life dedicated to science and science communication (BONCINELLI)
The origins and evolution of the Hominids (MC2-CRITICA)
Popular Swedish science magazine "Forskning & Framsteg"
The ethical and scientific conflicts of transplanting animal organs to humans – "Xenesis", a science based fiction
“Critical Mass”: the behaviour of matter (BALL)
United Kingdom
"Eureka" weekly science magazine for children
Cells – the building blocks of our body and mind (AMEISEN/MURS)

Popularising science through audio-visual and electronic media (scientific television or radio documentaries, websites)
The Science caster (BLASER / SCNAT)
"From Kiss to Baby" TV documentary
France, Japan
"Malaria, the secret storm"
"Europe, a Natural History"
"Océanautes: Explorers of the deep sea"

Innovative action for science communication
"IMAGINE": a school competition bringing life sciences to developing countries
The Netherlands
"TECHNOPOLIS" science communication centre: delivering science and technology to the people
A hydrogen powered automobile (Project HYSUN3000)
Advice of Professor Chimico on chemical risks
Exhibition "Conversations with Snow and Ice"
Latvia, Japan
"KVARKADABRA"; a society for explaining science
"ENCOMPASS": a compass-port to science infotainment
Exploring the secrets of the depths (project MAR-ECO)
"Inhabiting the World": to understand the biosphere
Göteborg International Science Festival in
The Science Café
"CITTà DELLA SCIENZA'" Italy’s first science centre
Communicators at the start of their career
The unique voice of Stradivarius violins (Project MC2-ARES)
"BIG DIPPER’": the Science Bus on the road for science

Note: the detailed summaries of the nominated projects listed above are available on the following website:

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