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Scientific journalism tops the bill

The Roberval Prize (organised by UTC) has been running for 30 years now, for the purpose of selecting and rewarding HE books, specialist documentaries and general public publications that involve - to a greater or lesser extent - technologies. Some renowned personalities, such as George Charpak and Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (both Nobel Prize winners) were Roberval Prize laureates. The current 2017 edition, the ceremony for which will take place in December) includes a new category (scientific journalists’ work, whatever the format). Applications are registered up to April 30 each year.

Scientific journalism tops the bill

 Technologies are increasingly influencing our life-styles and Society in general. The UTC Roberval Prize was initiated by the Founder President Guy Deniélou, with the aim to encourage and enhance dissemination of science and technologies for the benefit of the public at large who question the scientific community about today’s challenges. Scientific and technical journalists are inevitable and necessary go-betweens for the public and the scientists themselves, and with this new category in the Prize, those selected will be duly rewarded for their role.

There is an association, the Association des journalistes scientifiques de la presse d'information (AJSPI) with close on 240 members (in printed press, radio, TV and on-line media) which is a partner to the new formula. “Up till now there has never been a scientific French-language journalists’ prize and this induced UTC to create with us a special Prize for paper publications, new media, blogs, web-documentaries, animated image/text …”, explains Viviane Thivent, President of the AJSPI. The ‘competition’ covers items published or disseminated in 2016, and aims specifically at rewarding scientific journalists in their editorial staff configurations. “The main publications in France only allow a small surface fraction to scientific reporting”, adds the President of an association which organises numerous conferences and meetings for research scientists.

Encouraging other forms of journalism

This new Roberval Scientific Journalist prize will be awarded by decision of a jury of 5 French and European journalists among a preselection made by lecturer scientists at UTC as well as by personalities from both academic and industrial spheres. The Prize also carries a 2 000 euro reward, reflecting the notoriety of the awardee’s work and production among the academic and economic professionals. “The financial perk notably serves to encourage (and assist) publication in book form or in-depth reports as is practised in Anglo-Saxon countries”, notes Audrey Mikaëlian, a member of AJSPIs Bureau, who initiated this collaboration with UTC. Her documentary “Animats, des espèces en voie d'apparition »[“Animats, a species in danger”], at the core of which were the robots inspired from functions observed in the animal world which had already won a “heart-throb” prize in the 2015 Roberval Prize palmares.

That particular experience encouraged her to pursue the adventure. “I was able to exchange with the public at large about my film, notably with some youngsters following a BTS diploma Robotics programme, which is something that doesn’t happen regularly in my field”. She was a member of the 2016 Jury which enabled her to discover some original works that blended arts, philosophy and science. Beyond the promotion of some especially noteworthy works, this journalist-producer also works for TV channel (E=M6, Arte …) and is an enthusiast when it comes to getting to know one’s professional sector better. Only a few months separate us now from hearing who the 2017 laureate(s) is(are)