University of Dundee

Science Writing Award for Julia Wcislo

28 Oct 2020

Earlier this month, Julia Wcislo was named runner-up in the Medical Research Council’s Max Perutz Science Writing Award at their virtual award ceremony.

Julia, an MRC funded PhD student in Kevin Read’s lab in the Drug Discovery Unit and Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research, received a runner-up prize of £750 for her article, “The game of hide-and-seek”.

Julia commented on her win and the overall experience of taking part in the competition, “Taking part in the Max Perutz science writing competition has been beneficial in so many ways. I had a chance to participate in a writing masterclass as well as virtually meet the other finalists. This allowed me to learn about the other shortlisted candidate's research and how they were able to explain these complex topics in a way that was simple to understand. Considering the high level of everyone's work I am very proud to be selected as a runner-up. All in all, it was a great experience!”

The award ceremony was hosted by MRC Executive Chair Professor Fiona Watt. It consisted of a talk from special guest speaker, Professor Robin Perutz, son of the late Max Perutz, an introduction video to the 10 shortlisted candidates, and a reading of an excerpt from Sarah Taylor’s winning article.

In the afternoon of the ceremony, the shortlisted candidates had the chance to virtually attend a science writing masterclass led by Dr Claire Ainsworth from SciConnect. The session covered the principles of effective short popular-style science writing, what makes a great hook, effective phrasing, and the shortlisted candidates giving each other feedback on their articles in breakout rooms.

The 10 candidates were shortlisted for their articles from the 140 entries this year – the highest in the history of the Award. Their articles represent the breadth of research MRC funds – topics include antimicrobial resistance and disease prevention, to new ways of understanding mental health conditions through machine learning.

Julia’s article focussed on her PhD project, “I am working on Chagas disease, a neglected, tropical infection, caused by the protozoan parasite - Trypanosoma cruzi. My project focuses on exploring three main research areas; the different forms the parasite can take within the host’s body, specifically the existence and behaviour of dormant forms, drug distribution patterns of selected compounds and parasite localisation directly after the treatment. In the article, I share my experience with tackling the last question - parasite localisation using a novel technique called tissue clearing. I tried to portray the struggles and achievements I have encountered so far in an engaging, simple and humorous style. The article is aimed at a non-scientific audience so that people from all backgrounds can understand what my research is about and why it matters.”

All articles, including Julia’s, are available to read here: https://mrc.ukri.org/documents/pdf/max-perutz-science-writing-award-2020-shortlisted-articles/

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