Competition: Who are today's scientific heroes?

Write an essay on a living person whom you admire in science and you could win £10,000
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The Independent Online

Do you have a living science hero? If so, is it the physicist Stephen Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time, the broadcaster David Attenborough, the pharmacologist Baroness Susan Greenfield, or someone else entirely?

Do you have a living science hero? If so, is it the physicist Stephen Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time, the broadcaster David Attenborough, the pharmacologist Baroness Susan Greenfield, or someone else entirely?

All sixth-formers, indeed anyone aged between 16 and 18 in full-time education, will have the chance to wax lyrical about their favourite living scientist or scientific organisation by entering a new competition that The Independent is sponsoring with the Royal Institution, one of the UK's foremost scientific organisations. Called the Dan David Prize for Students, it is named after the Israeli businessman who invented the technology behind the phone booth. (It should not be confused with the international prize which carries the same name.)

All you have to do is to write an essay of 500 to 1,000 words explaining what your science hero or heroine has achieved. Too often, the public only knows about the achievements of dead scientists, such as Albert Einstein and Michael Faraday. This competition aims to raise the profile of living scientists who are accomplishing great thingsin a wide range of fields, including architecture, astronomy, design, engineering, the environment, maths, medicine, science and technology.

The Royal Institution is keen to instil a sense of excitement among young people about what can be achieved in science and how important subjects such as physics and chemistry are to the nation's well-being, especially at a time when they are under threat in our universities. Students putting pen to paper are advised to think about how their hero or heroine has achieved his or her goals. Did they have to overcome obstacles to get where they wanted? What impact has their research had and what benefits has it provided?

The prizes are generous: first prize is £10,000; second prize is £3,000; and there are three other prizes of £1,000 each. In addition, the five schools or colleges with the maximum number of entries will receive awards of £1,000 each. You can spend the money how you like and the winning entry or entries will be published in Independent EDUCATION. The judges include Baroness Susan Greenfield, the director of the Royal Institution, Steve Connor, science editor of The Independent, and Dr Simon Singh, the physicist. The deadline for entries is Friday, 29 April.

For more information about the competition, log on to www.rigb.org/ddp.

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