UCL News


Young academic author of the year shortlist announced

29 September 2006

Dr Nick Lane (Royal Free & UCL Medical School) has been shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Supplement's Young Academic Author of the Year Award for his book 'Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life'.

Nick Lane

'Power, Sex, Suicide' is one of the first popular science books about mitochondria - tiny structures located inside our cells that use oxygen to generate power. There are about 10 million billion mitochondria in a human being. Biologists are starting to recognise that they play a huge role in shaping human life, for example by determining the sexes, and directing ageing and death.

Dr Lane said of his achievement: "To be shortlisted for this award recognises that my book, which was aimed at a popular audience, also makes serious scientific points. I am very pleased to have managed to reach both general and academic readers. It follows in a fine tradition, from Darwin on, which I'm proud to be part of."

'Origin of the Species' was written as 'popular science', but modern science writing is often difficult to make accessible for non-scientist readers. Scientific journals are highly specialised, so the parameters for scientific writing are narrow. One of the selection criteria for the 'Times Higher' award is that writing should cross boundaries between types of reader.

Dr Lane's success follows the earlier nomination of 'Power, Sex, Suicide' for the 2006 Aventis Prize for science writing. He is currently working on his next book, which he hopes will also cross boundaries and make science accessible to a wider audience. He revealed: "My next book will be about evolution. I am tentatively calling it 'Ten Great Inventions of Life'."

In a further success for UCL, researchers at the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis have been shortlisted for the 'Times Higher' Research Project of the Year Award. Professor Paul Longley, Professor Richard Webber and doctoral student Daryl Lloyd conducted quantitative analysis of the changing geographical distribution of surnames in the UK.

All the award winners will be announced at a dinner at the Hilton, Park Lane on 15 November.

Image: Dr Nick Lane