Maria Pazi from Russky Reporter Won the Rusnano Russian Sci&Tech Writer of the Year

27 February 2020

The results of the second round of the Rusnano Russian Sci&Tech Writer of the Year Award, the Russian stage of the European Science Journalist of the Year competition, which was held for the second year in a row by the Association of Communicators in Education and Science (ACSON) and the RUSNANO’s Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs, have been summarized.

Winners and awardees included the authors of Russky Reporter, Biomolecula, Nauka i Zhizn and TASS.

1st prize: Maria Pazi / Russky Reporter (Cyber-DNA, Digital Love, and Evolving Man).

2nd prize: Dora Batayeva / Biomolecula (Slivers in the History Stream, The Largest Family, and Gregg’s Children: a Long History of Victory over Rubella).

3rd prize:

  • Anastasiya Volchok / Biomolecula (Measles: the War on Childhood Plague Continues, Whooping Cough: a Cough that Kills, and Pesticide Control),
  • Marat Kuzayev / TASS, (Supersonic Planes Return, Is it True that Handwriting Reflects Human Character, and U.S. Air Force patents DNA test for intelligence),
  • Aleksey Ponyatov / Nauka i Zhizn (Kilogram was the Last Who Capitulated, Image of a Black Hole, and The Hunt for Sterile Neutrinos).

Maria Pazi and Marat Kuzaev participated in the competition for the second time. Last year they both entered the shortlist but did not take the prizes.

The Award Ceremony of the Rusnano Russian Sci&Tech Writer of the Year will take place on May 22, 2020, at the 4th All-Russian Scientific Communication Forum at the National Research University Higher School of Economics. The award winner Maria Pazi will be nominated for the European Prize and will go to the European Conference of Scientific Journalists in Trieste on July 3-4, 2020, where its results will be summed up.

This year, the general partner of the award, the RUSNANO Group, has established a special prize for an objective, comprehensive, and interesting explanation of modern technological solutions to socially significant problems. It was awarded to Anastasia Volchok (Biomolecula). She will have the opportunity to travel to the Artek Children’s Center to get acquainted with the design research and technology work of schoolchildren.

Maria Pazi is a graduate of the biological division of the St. Petersburg State University, former editor of the BioTimes Biological Faculty newspaper, and a fellow of the I. M. Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry. She has been writing about science since 2017, and the same year she was shortlisted for the Debut in Scientific Journalism Award organized by the Science of the Future—Science of the Young forum. She is a two-time winner of the Tech-in-Media award (in 2018 and 2019).

Dora Batayeva is a graduate of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, and formerly was a biochemist in several RAS institutes. She is a musician, author of electronic music, piano teacher, and an analyst at the Open Longevity community. Also, she writes popular scientific articles, and is a crowdfunding manager at Biomolecula. 

Anastasiya Volchok is a graduate of the MSUFP (food productions), formerly an employee of the A. N. Bach Institute of Biochemistry, Ph.D. in Chemical Sciences, Senior Analyst of the BioTech 2030 Technology Platform with the experience in analytics and forecasting of biotechnology development in Russia and the world. Also, she writes popular scientific articles at Biomolecula.

Marat Kusayev grew up in the Berezovsky town of the Sverdlovsk region. He graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy of the Ural State University, wrote about American TV series and television (and a little bit more about video games). Then he moved to Moscow to study media communications at the National Research University Higher School of Economics and worked as a YouTube video writer for a year. Since February 2018 he has been writing about science on the TASS portal.

Alexey Poniatov is a Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and a long-time author at Nauka i Zhizn.

The 2020 award shortlist includes 10 authors:

  • Dora Batayeva / Biomolecula,
  • Anastasiya Volchok / Biomolecula,
  • Marat Kuzayev / TASS,
  • Ekaterina Mischenko /,
  • Natalia Nifantova / Mashiny i Mekhanizmy,
  • Mariya Pazi / Russky Reporter,
  • Aleksey Ponyatov / Nauka i Zhizn,
  • Dmitry Trunin / N+1,
  • Ilya Yasniy / self-nomination, and
  • Svetlana Yastrebova / N+1.

“The texts reflecting the diversity of scientific popularization were submitted to the competition. The jury faced a difficult task of comparing the materials written for a very wide audience, with texts on related topics designed for professionals, such as researchers, technology entrepreneurs, students or persons just competent enough in the subject. Such diversity seems to me very important, and none of the directions should be neglected. The mass reader, even in response to his/her idle interest, needs to form a scientifically sound picture of the world; otherwise, stupidity, myths, and obscurantism start to triumph. However, one should not neglect the interest of advanced readers to the detailed explanation of discoveries or changes in the world as well. Reading popular scientific materials is a serious intellectual work. I would like to note that this year there have been considerably stronger detailed reviews on the most serious scientific topics, from quantum theories to oncology,” says Sergey Filippov, Head of the Popularization Directorate of the Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs.

“You can promote science in different ways, and there is a great risk of doing something pretty extreme. Sometimes we get materials available only to those who already know everything, and sometimes—so banal ones that it is enough to at least roughly remember the school curriculum so that it is uninteresting. The most difficult thing is to reach out the audience that does not agree (because it reads all good popular scientific articles), and make you think. Our winner of this year writes at the intersection of several extremely relevant topics, such as the technology and its impact on society, relationships, and psychology. It is one of the few approaches that allows making content that will ‘work’ not only for an advanced reader, who is an expert himself, but also for the mass audience, which will start reading the text because at first glance it seems that it is about Tinder, but learns a lot of important, fundamental things,” said Danil Fedorovykh, chairman of the Expert Council of the Award, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

The European Science Journalist of the Year competition is aimed at revealing the best science journalists in Europe who demonstrate high-quality work and a creative approach to the topics of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The £1,000 award is given to a journalist innovative in its field who inspires new generations of his/her colleagues. Journalists from newspapers, online publications, TV channels, and radio stations operating in any European language can participate in the competition. The competition is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

The Russian stage of the competition has been held since 2019. In 2020, not only popular scientific media and the science departments of the social and political media, but also the applicant authors were invited to participate. Each author had to submit three materials (no more than two authors per one media) published during 2019. The advisory council is composed of the federal media editors, media-active scientists, public relations experts from scientific organizations and universities, and representatives of development institutions.


The Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs was established in 2010 in accordance with Federal Law No. 211-FZ “On reorganization of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies.” The Fund aims to develop the innovative infrastructure in the sphere of nanotechnology and implement the educational and infrastructure programs already started by RUSNANO.

The supreme collegial management body of the Fund is the Supervisory Board. Under the Fund’s Charter, the competence of the Supervisory Council, in particular, includes the issues of determining the priority directions of the Fund’s activity, as well as its strategy and budget. The Chairman of the Fund’s Executive Board, the collegial management body, is the Chairman of the Board of Management Company RUSNANO LLC Anatoly Chubais; the Chief Executive Officer of the Fund is Andrey Svinarenko.

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The Association of Communicators in Education and Science (AKSON) was founded in 2016 and united academic journalists, academic communicators in universities and research institutes, organizers of popular science events, and popularizers of science. AKSON annually holds the Forum of Scientific Communicators of Russia and awards the Communication Laboratory Prize to the best press services of universities and research institutes, arranges journalistic grants, and supports the Russian scientific news aggregator Open Science.

More about the association —