Maddox Prize nominations

Nominations for the John Maddox Prize 2020 are now closed. The winner will be announced in the Autumn.

Before submitting your nomination please read the eligibility and judging criteria thoroughly.

The John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science recognises the work of individuals who promote science and evidence, advancing the public discussion around difficult topics despite challenges or hostility.

Sir John Maddox, whose name this prize commemorates, was a passionate and tireless champion and defender of science, engaging with difficult debates and inspiring others to do the same. As a writer and editor, he changed attitudes and perceptions, and strove for better understanding and appreciation of science throughout his long working life.

The John Maddox Prize awards evening is hosted at Wellcome Collection, London in November. Winners receive £3000. An additional award is also made to someone who in the opinion of the judges is at an early stage of their career.

Candidates for the John Maddox Prize must be nominated.


The John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science is awarded to an individual for any kind of public activity in any of the areas listed below:

  • Addressing misleading information about a scientific issue (including social science and medicine).
  • Bringing sound evidence to bear in a public or policy debate.
  • Helping people to make sense of a complex scientific issue.

An additional prize is awarded to an individual who in the opinion of the judges is at an early stage of their career.

This is a global prize: people from any country and in any field can be nominated.


Nominated candidates for the John Maddox Prize will be judged on the strength of the nomination based on the below criteria:

  • How clearly the individual advanced the discussion of good science, despite challenges.
  • The nature of the challenge(s) faced by the individual.
  • How well they placed the evidence in the wider debate and engaged others.
  • Their level of influence on the public debate.

The winner is chosen by a judging panel, not by Sense about Science.
The 2019 judges were:

  • Professor Lord Martin Rees – Astronomer Royal
  • Ms Natasha Loder – Healthcare correspondent, The economist
  • Professor Sir Colin Blakemore – Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford
  • Ms Tracey Brown OBE – Director, Sense about Science
  • Dr Magdalena Skipper – Editor-in-chief, Nature
  • Professor Terrence Forrester – Chief Scientist & Managing Director, UWI Solutions for Developing Countries at the University of the West Indies
  • Professor Dennis Lo – Director, Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences
  • Ms Anin Luo (judge for the early career award) – Yale University.

Judges sit in a personal capacity.

The prize will be awarded for specific achievements, and the decision will be final and not open to appeal.

Information for nominators

Staff, trustees and directors of the partnering organisations, previous winners and previous or current members of the judging panel and their direct relations are not eligible for nomination for the prize, though they may nominate. It is open to anyone else, including those commended or nominated in previous years and people who have published with or worked with partnering organisations as contributors, advisers or in other collaborations.

As a nominator you should normally be an individual who is familiar with the work of the candidate but self-nomination will be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Nominations are to take the form of a letter of recommendation and include biographical information on the candidate and a description of the candidate’s work in standing up for science. Permission must be sought from the nominee. If possible, a supporting referee should be included in the nomination form.

If you think the individual is at an early stage in their career then please highlight this on the nomination form as they will be eligible for the additional prize.

Nominations and supporting references must be submitted in English. The individual nominated, the referee, and the nominator may be contacted for more information including references.

Questions? Please contact [email protected]
Updated: 21 February 2020