Vicky Bennett is from the GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership and is based in the University’s Department of Biology & Biochemistry.

Vicky’s winning article ‘Cranberry juice won’t cut it anymore’ is about identifying potential drugs that could be re-purposed to target drug-resistant bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Ian Tucker, Science and Technology Editor of The Observer, congratulated Vicky on her vivid description of catheter research in the lab, and shared the judges’ thoughts on Vicky’s article saying it was: “Relatable: a gallant way to make unglamorous research interesting.”

Speaking about what motivates her research, Vicky said: “I want to try and do research that’s going to potentially help a wide range of people and lead to better treatments, and improve the situation for a lot of people who currently suffer in many different ways.

“I was really happy and grateful to win this award for writing about an area which isn't the most glamorous and therefore doesn't always get much recognition, but still affects millions of people each year.”

Vicky’s PhD supervisor, Dr Brian Jones, said: “It’s a privilege to work with Vicky in this challenging area of research.

“These infections seriously affect the health and quality of life of many people, and I think that Vicky’s efforts to raise awareness of this are just as important as the work we are doing to find solutions.”

Her winning article was published in The Observer on the 7 November, and Vicky also won a cash prize of £1,500.

The MRC Max Perutz Science Writing Award is an annual science writing competition for PhD students funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC). Now in its 24th year, the award aims to encourage and recognise outstanding written communication by MRC PhD students.

It challenges students to explain why their research matters in 1,100-words for a non-scientific audience.

The award is named after the eminent scientist and Nobel Laureate Dr Max Perutz, an accomplished and natural communicator who died in 2002. Dr Perutz was a molecular biologist who founded the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in 1962.

The 2021 virtual awards ceremony was hosted by award-winning science journalist and broadcaster, Sue Nelson.

Along with Sue Nelson, the other members of the prestigious VIP judging panel included: Dr Furaha Asani, researcher and writer; Dr Roger Highfield, MRC Council Member and Science Director of the Science Museum Group; Ian Tucker, Science and Technology Editor of The Observer; Gaia Vince, journalist, author and broadcaster; Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of MRC, and chair of the panel.

Professor Fiona Watt said: “Chairing the Max Perutz Science Writing Award jury is always invigorating, educational, and fun. I’d strongly encourage more PhD students to enter, as I can guarantee that you will learn a lot as you frame your work for an external audience.”