Applications now open for €2,000 Mary Mulvihill Award for best ‘virus’ story

7 Oct 2020

Image: © peshkov/

The annual Mary Mulvihill Award is once again looking for applicants, with this year’s entries to follow the theme of ‘virus’.

Students from across the country with a passion for science communication are being asked to apply for the 2021 Mary Mulvihill Award. The award sets the challenge to students to create an engaging piece of science media focused around a particular theme, this year’s being ‘virus’.

It was created as a project of Remembering Mary, an initiative established by family and friends of Mulvihill, who died in 2015. Its purpose is to honour her memory and her work in science journalism and science communication.

The award – with a prize of €2,000 – is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled in an Irish higher education institution at the time of submission. The closing date for submissions is 30 April 2021.

The competition’s organisers said entries can come in many different formats, including essays, infographics, memoirs or other formats including interviews presented in written, video or audio forms.

Many types of viruses

“This [year’s theme] has been very much in all of our minds as we face the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Cormac Sheridan, the competition’s administrator.

“But we invite entries that relate also to [the concept of viruses] as it comes up in other aspects of life and society. We encourage prospective entrants to think of virus, viral, virulent and related terms in their everyday as well as their scientific usage.”

This, he said, could include stories about how something may go viral, what makes Covid-19 conspiracies so virulent or a particular virus that helped shape our world.

In addition to the overall award prize, the judges may decide to make an additional award of €500 for highly commended entry.

In May, the winner of the 2020 edition was named as Roscommon student James Hayes for his biographical essay on mathematician William Rowan Hamilton. The focus of the piece was on Hamilton’s ‘flash of genius’ when he carved the quaternion equation that had just come into his mind on the stones of Broombridge in Cabra in October 1843.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic