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The Royal Society of Biology is delighted to announce the shortlists for its annual Book Awards.

The awards celebrate outstanding biology books for the general reader, as well as exceptional undergraduate and postgraduate textbooks.

The General Biology Book Prize recognises accessible, engaging and informative life sciences books written for a non-specialist audience.

"From psychology to ecology, the 51 nominations covered the breadth of the biosciences," said Dr Rebecca Nesbit MRSB, member of the general category judging panel. "Many of the books were both imaginative and informative, making the awards a pleasure to judge. The books on the shortlist will appeal to both trained scientists and the wider public, proving once again that biology is not just for biologists."

General Biology Book Prize shortlist:


Body by Darwin: How Evolution Transforms Our Health and Shapes Medicine

Jeremy Taylor (University of Chicago Press)

The judges said: A fascinating journey through the surprising insight that evolutionary biology can shine on some very modern medical mysteries.

Death on Earth: Adventures in Evolution and Mortality

Jules Howard (Bloomsbury Sigma)

The judges said: Howard's personal exploration of the science of death and our fears which surround it will have a very broad appeal.

It's All In Your Head

Suzanne O'Sullivan (Chatto & Windus)

The judges said: A sympathetic but scientific analysis by a consultant neurologist of medical conditions for which no physical cause can be found, extensively illustrated through the use of anonymised patient histories.

Life's Greatest Secret

Matthew Cobb (Profile Books)

The judges said: A page-turning account of the race to discover the structure of DNA and decipher the genetic code, arguably the greatest achievement in biology in the 20th century.

Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells

Helen Scales (Bloomsbury Sigma)

The judges said: A walk along the beach will never be the same again – this book reveals that every seashell has a compelling story.

The Cell: A Visual Tour of the Building Block of Life

Jack Challoner and Dr Philip Dash (Ivy Press)

The judges said: This beautifully-illustrated book gives an insight into the building blocks of life, which will capture the imagination of biologists and non-biologists alike.

The General Biology Book Prize was judged by: Victoria Gill, BBC News multimedia science reporter; Dr William Marshall FRSB, former clinical director of pathology and consultant clinical biochemist at The London Clinic; and Dr Rebecca Nesbit MRSB author, entomologist and scientific programme manager at Nobel Media.

The Society's Book Awards also recognise bioscience textbooks for undergraduates and postgraduates.

Undergraduate Textbook Prize shortlist:


An Introduction to Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics (2nd edition)

Lindell Bromham (Oxford University Press)

The judges said: This is an accessible well laid out textbook covering difficult subject matters. Its excellent synthesis nicely combines evolutionary biology with modern genetics.

Anatomy and Physiology: An Integrative Approach

Michael McKinley, Valerie O'Loughlin, Theresa Bidle (McGraw-Hill Education)

The judges said: A smart book in every sense of the word with fantastic pedagogic illustrations and multiple online resources. Core content is of a high level and material is well integrated for students studying a range of bioscience subjects.

Haematology (2nd edition)

Gary Moore, Gavin Knight and Andrew Blann (Oxford University Press)

The judges said: An excellent fundamental textbook. Written in a modern style it is well designed with plenty of useful case studies and practical experiments.

The Undergraduate Textbook Prize was judged by: Dr Clare Miller, senior lecturer in microbiology at the University of Lincoln; Professor Jenny Morton FRSB, professor of neurobiology at the University of Cambridge; and Dr David Slingsby FRSB, Open University tutor and former chair of education for the British Ecological Society.

Postgraduate Textbook Prize shortlist:


"Judges were hoping to find textbooks that were not only suitable for postgraduate level of study, but that had an extra special quality", said Dr Sue Howarth FRSB, postgraduate textbook category judge. "Texts were expected to cover material at the forefront of their relevant biological field and also to be coherent, scientifically accurate, readable and, if illustrated, for illustrations to be clear and suitable."

Organism and Environment

Sonia E Sultan (Oxford University Press)

The judges said: Focusing on how organisms affect, and are affected by, their environment, this is possibly one of the most exciting biology textbooks published recently.

Quantitative Viral Ecology: Dynamics of Viruses and Their Microbial Hosts

Joshua S Weitz (Princeton University Press)

The judges said: Beneath its unassuming plain green cover is a novel, readable and extensive scholarly work on viruses and their interactions. A superb introduction to a new field of research.

Synthetic Biology - A Primer

Paul S Freemont, Richard I Kitney, Geoff Baldwin, Travis Bayer, Robert Dickinson, Tom Ellis, Karen Polizzi, Guy-Bart Stan (Imperial College Press)

The judges said: Synthetic Biology: A Primer is very readable book, well organised into sections and sub-sections with plenty of supporting literature and current examples. An excellent starter to synthetic biology.

The Origin of Higher Taxa

T S Kemp (Oxford University Press)

The judges said: A book with real backbone! For the student who is looking at the big picture of evolutionary biology this is a brilliant start point on what is a modern developing field.

The Postgraduate Textbook Prize was judged by: Ian Carter MRSB, associate editor of the School Science Review; Dr Sue Howarth FRSB, former senior lecturer in secondary science education at the University of Worcester; and Dr Ian Turner MRSB, senior lecturer in biology and forensic science at the University of Derby.

The winners will be announced on Thursday 13th October at our annual Awards Ceremony, held at Charles Darwin House, London, as part of Biology Week 2016.