Robin McKie

The Observer

Robin Mckie, the Observer’s science editor, is hugely respected. As the choice of pieces submitted suggest, he has a remarkable capacity to write across a wide and varied range of subjects and to make accessible and popular complex concepts and developments.

One piece of Robin McKie’s is an investigation into one of modern medicine’s major mysteries: the ability of large mammals - such as whales - to avoid cancer. Current theories suggest cancers are triggered when cells start to divide uncontrollably and that the more cells possessed by an animal the more likely it is to get a tumour. But animals like whales - which have thousands of times more cells than humans - do not get cancer and uncovering the reason for this ability is opening up new routes to creating new tumour treatments.

Another article focuses on the work of controversial fossil hunter Lee Berger. His claim, made earlier this year, that tiny-brained Homo naledi - whose remains he first uncovered in South Africa - could make fire and art and buried their dead made headlines round the world. However, this article reveals that leading scientists are horrified by his claims and by his use of TV documentaries to promote his controversial views.

Finally, another article focuses on a growing scientific problem: the lightening of our night skies by the indiscriminate use of external lighting, street illumination, advertising, and illuminated sporting venues which is now blinding our view of the stars. The loss, culturally and scientifically, will be intense as this article reveals.