Genetics Unzipped recognised for digital engagement

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The Genetics Society’s flagship podcast, Genetics Unzipped, has been recognised as ‘Highly Commended’ in the 2019 British Society for the History of Science Ayrton prize for digital engagement.

The award recognises the high quality of the monthly narrative episodes telling stories about people and ideas from the history of genetics, created to celebrate the Society’s centenary last year.

The podcasts tackled more than 30 subjects throughout 2019, including the unusual connection between Huntington’s disease and the New England witch trials; the story of the Balfour Biological Laboratory for Women in Cambridge; the curious time when everyone thought there were 24 pairs of human chromosomes; the true story of William Bateson’s ‘rediscovery’ of Mendel’s laws; the dark legacy of Francis Galton; the origins of today’s laboratory mice in a Massachusetts barn a century ago; the history of genetic modification and much more.

Several episodes have focused particularly on less well-known or overlooked women in genetic science, such as the Society’s co-founder Edith Rebecca Saunders (the ‘mother of British plant genetics’), Martha Chase, Esther Lederberg, Mary Lyon and Tsuneko Okazaki.

Launched in 2015, the BSHS Ayrton prize outstanding web projects and digital engagement in the history of science, technology and medicine (HSTM).  The prize name was chosen by members from a shortlist to recognize the major contributions of Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923) to numerous scientific fields, especially electrical engineering and mathematics, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The judges said:

“We received an exceptionally large number of submissions, and the judging panel were impressed by the quality and variety of projects nominated from around the world, and by the way the submissions illustrated valuable possibilities at all levels of resourcing, from small self-published projects to international multi-agency work.

Given the remarkable strength of the field, we have decided to supplement the main Prize with a Highly Commended category, to be awarded to two further projects.  The judging panel were particularly impressed with the podcast’s success in incorporating high-quality history into a format targeting an audience not primarily composed of established historical enthusiasts.”

Genetics Unzipped is hosted by science writer and broadcaster Kat Arney and produced by Kat’s team at First Create The Media: Hannah Varrall (audio editing), Tabitha Dale (social media), Emily Nordvang (writing and research) and Sarah Hazell (administrative support).

Go to to find out more and browse all episodes, follow the podcast on Twitter, @GeneticsUnzip, or just search for Genetics Unzipped in your favourite podcast app.