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CSWA Science In Society Awards

The Canadian Science Writers’ Association offers Science In Society awards annually to honour outstanding contributions to journalism and science communication in Canada

2014 CSWA Science Communication Award Winner

The Giant Walk Through the Brain, by Jay Ingram, Christian Jacob and Trevor Day

In 1972, neuroscientist Joseph Bogen suggested building a giant 60-story high science museum of the human brain. This giant walkthrough brain would educate and engage students and the public by taking them on guided tours inside, making it possible to visualize anatomical relationships among structures surrounding them. Although this architectural project remains an intriguing idea, the cost makes it unlikely an actual walk through brain will ever be built. However, after years of dreaming about this experience, science writer and broadcaster Jay Ingram assembled a team to create a technology-enabled version. “The Giant Walk through the Brain” is a creative science communication performance that takes a live audience on a larger-than-life virtual musical tour of the human brain. This live theatrical performance is a story-driven journey told with dramatic 3-D computer animations and original live music.

Science broadcaster Jay Ingram conceived and produced the project and acts as tour guide for The Giant Walk Through Brain performance. He is a member of the Order of Canada with 30 years of broadcasting experience with CBC Radio and Discovery Channel, author of 13 books and co-founder of the art, science and engineering phenomenon called Beakerhead. Dr. Christian Jacob is a Professor and director of the University of Calgary’s LINDSAY Virtual Human Project and the leader of the animation team. They have developed custom-made, scientifically accurate3-D models and animations in the form of interactive fly-throughs to support the scientific and narrative content of the performance. Dr. Trevor Day is a neurobiologist and Associate Professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. He is music director and leader of the five-piece band “The Free Radicals”. They have written original music to accompany the narration and guided 3-D tour of the brain during the live performance.


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2014 CSWA Science Journalism Award Winner

The Allergy Fix by Bruce Mohun and Helen Slinger, Dreamfilm Productions. The Allergy Fixaired CBC-TV’s The Nature of Things, 27 February 2014.

A documentary that explores the science behind the surge in childhood food allergies over the last twenty years.  More than three times as many children have food allergies now than twenty years ago, and one out of every three children is now allergic to something, be it food, animals, or plants.

Director/writerBruce Mohunis a Vancouver-based science journalist and television director who has produced, directed, hosted and written hundreds of hours of TV for broadcasters including CBC, Discovery, and Knowledge. His past documentaries for CBC-TV’s The Nature of Things have won multiple awards including both the Gold and Silver World Medals at the New York Festivals. Bruce has been honoured with both the Science Council of British Columbia’s Eve Savory Award for Science Communication, and the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies’ J. Gordin Kaplan Award for Science Communication.

Helen Slingeris a master storyteller who began her career as a newspaper and then television reporter. After a lengthy left turn into news management, she left mainstream media to pursue her passion for documentary. Since then she has directed, written and produced many documentaries, including more than ten made in collaboration with Dreamfilm.”

Honourable Mentions:

Blinded By Scientific Gobbledygookseries, by Tom Spears, The Ottawa Citizen.

Undoing Forever, by Britt Wray, CBC Radio One IDEAS.


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2014 Winner of the CSWA Herb Lampert Emerging Journalist Award

Floating Away: The Science of Sensory Deprivation Therapy, by Shelly Xuelai Fan , Discover Magazine, 4 April 2014.

Sensory deprivation was considered the ultimate psychological torture device. Now it is rapidly becoming North America’s new drug-of-choice. Across the continent “”float houses”” are increasing in popularity, offering eager psychonauts a chance to explore this unique state of mind. Those running the business are quick to list the health benefits of frequent “”floats””, which range from the believable – relaxation, heightened senses – to the seemingly nonsensical. Are these proclaimed benefits backed up by science or are they simply new-age hogwash?Floating Awaydelves into the science of sensory deprivation therapy by interviewing the field’s pioneering researcher at the University of British Columbia, and offers a critical look at the past and future of this fringe research area.

Shelly Xuelai Fanis a PhD student in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia, where she studies protein degradation in neurodegenerative diseases. She is a science writer with an insatiable obsession with the brain, and her work has appeared in Discover, Scientific American MIND, UBC Medical Journal and other publications.


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Book Awards

Each year the Canadian Science Writers’ Association offers two book awards to honour outstanding contributions to science writing 1) intended for and available to children/middle grades ages 8-12 years, and 2) intended for and available to the general public for books that were published in Canada during the previous calendar year. This year the CSWA received a record number of entries in both categories. Entries were judged on the basis of initiative, originality, scientific accuracy, clarity of interpretation and value in promoting a better understanding of science by the public.


Short List for the 2014 Science in Society Children/ Middle Grades Book Award competition:

WINNER: The Fly by Elise Gravel, Penguin Random House.

Zoobots by Helaine Becker, Kids Can Press.

Starting from Scratch by Sarah Elton, Owl Kids Books.

It’s Catching by Jennifer Gardy, Owl Kids Books.

If by David J. Smith, Kids Can Press.

Short List for the 2014 Science in Society General Book Award competition:

WINNER: Bee Time by Mark L. Winston, Harvard University Press. 

The End of Memory by Jay Ingram, Harper Collins Publishers Ltd.

Canadian Spacewalkers: Hadfield, MacLean and Williams Remember the Ultimate High Adventure by Bob McDonald, Douglas & McIntyre.

Pain and Prejudice: What Science can Learn about Work from the People Who Do It by Karen Messing, Between the Lines (BTL).

Is that a Fact? by Dr Joe Schwarcz, ECW Press.

Sanofi Pasteur Medal for Excellence in Health Research Journalism 2014

Canadians for Health Research (CHR) and Sanofi Pasteur are pleased to announce the winner of the 2014 competition is Ivan Semeniuk for his article “The Hunt for Humanity”. Ivan will receive a medal and a $2,500 bursary. This awards will be presented at the CSWA annual conference awards dinner on June 20th in Saskatoon.

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