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UCL professor wins Royal Society science book prize

2 October 2018

Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore has won the prestigious Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2018, which celebrates the best of science writing for a non-specialist audience.

Brian Cox and Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

Professor Blakemore won the prize for her solo debut book, Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain, which presents cutting-edge findings based on her own laboratory research on the adolescent brain and how its development ultimately shapes the adults we become.

"I'm deeply honoured to win this award," said Professor Blakemore, deputy director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

"I started working on the adolescent brain about 15 years ago, and it was thanks to Royal Society funding that I was able to get to where I am now, so I am very appreciative of their support. I'm enormously grateful to my research group, both current and former members, and the teenagers I work with, as there would have been no research to write about without them, and everyone else who has helped me with this book."

Professor Blakemore's research looks at the development of social cognition and decision-making during adolescence.

She was recently made a fellow of the British Academy, and this year earned the British Psychological Society's Presidents' Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Knowledge, recognising both her research and commitment to public engagement. She also won the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award in 2013 and the Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize in 2015.

Chair of this year's panel, Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft, University of Oxford professor and author, commented on the winning book: "It's a completely captivating read on the teenage brain written by a leading expert in the field. Blakemore explains the science behind teenage behaviour in a lucid and engaging way, deconstructs the myths that surround it, offers new insight into how we should treat teenagers, and reflects on how our new knowledge might usefully influence policy decisions."

"This is truly a book that everyone should read," she said.

Two other UCL academics were featured on the six-author shortlist for the Royal Society's book prize this year.

Professor Mark Miodownik (UCL Mechanical Engineering), was shortlisted for his latest book Liquid, a compelling look at liquids using the clever vehicle of a plane journey.

Dr Hannah Fry (UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis), was honoured for lifting the lid on the inner workings of algorithms and the dilemmas they present, with her fascinating and timely book Hello World.

The shortlisted books, chosen from over 260 submissions, were commended for their extraordinarily high standard of scientific thought, conveyed through accessible writing and engaging storytelling.

Professor Blakemore receives a £25,000 prize, while £2,500 is awarded to the other five shortlisted authors.



  • Professor Brian Cox, the Royal Society's Professor for Public Engagement in Science, and Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. Photo courtesy the Royal Society

Media contact

Chris Lane

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9222

Email: chris.lane [at] ucl.ac.uk