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Personal tale of hearing loss wins Nature’s 150th anniversary young writers’ prize


I hope that when I voice support to my brother in the future […] he’ll be able to hear it, receive it, and not feel alone.

A PhD researcher’s tale of her twin brother’s hearing loss and her hopes for a future where scientific research has found a way to restore it has won Nature’s Young Scientist Essay Competition.  The winning essay, written by Yasmin Ali, a PhD researcher at the University of Nottingham, UK, is published online today as part of Nature’s 150th anniversary celebrations, which culminate this week. 

The Young Scientist Essay Competition was launched early in 2019 to bring the voices and ideas of the next generation of researchers to the fore.  The competition asked readers between 18-25 years old to tell Nature in 1,000 words or less what scientific advancement they would most like to see in their lifetimes, and why it mattered to them.  

In addition to the winning essay, two essays were selected for publication as runners up.  Of the many entries that focused on the world’s climate crisis, an essay by Robert Schittko (Harvard University) on a future fuelled by energy from nuclear fusion caught the judges’ attention.  The other runner up essay, by Matthew Zajac (University of Chicago), spoke of his personal desire for science to develop same-sex reproduction technology.  

All entries into the competition were judged by Nature editors and the top ten were ranked by a further panel comprising Magdalena Skipper, editor-in-chief of Nature; Faith Osier, an immunologist and researcher at the KEMRI–Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi, Kenya; and Jess Wade, a physicist at Imperial College London.

Dr Magdalena Skipper commented: “These essays gave us a true window into the aspirations of our future researchers.  We were bowled over by the immense ambition and profound optimism of the entries for scientific advancement, which have given us great hope that Nature will continue to be able to celebrate, and provide a platform for, extraordinary scientific progress, research communication and news for another 150 years.”

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