Launch of the 2021 Mary Mulvihill science media competition for third-level students

A prize of €2,000 is up for grabs for the best submission on the theme of ‘virus’

The 2021 Mary Mulvihill Award, which commemorates the work and legacy of science journalist, author and Ingenious Ireland founder Mary Mulvihill will have "virus" as its theme.

"This has been very much in all of our minds as we face the Covid-19 pandemic," explained competition administrator Cormac Sheridan. "But we invite entries that relate also to virus 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," he added.

The range of possible topics is vast, drawing on life sciences research and medicine, but also on software, social media and everyday contexts, he noted. For purposes of illustration only, the Mary Mulvihill Association (MMA) has outlined the following possible project topics:

– How a submicroscopic organism changed our world


– The life of a virus (or a virologist)

– How ideas, images, stories or memes “go viral”

– Efforts to develop antiviral drugs and vaccines

– How and why computer viruses are propagated

– What makes Covid-19 conspiracies so virulent?

– How past pandemics have influenced understanding of this one

Entries are “welcome in many – and mixed – media formats”. Again, just as examples for guidance, written texts may be essays, memoirs or other narratives; photos, infographics, comic strips or other visual forms may be used as illustration, or as the main content; interviews may be presented in written, video or audio forms.

During the winter months, the MMA plans to hold a virtual roundtable discussion that will consider various aspects and possible treatments of the virus theme. More information will be available on its website and social-media platforms

The award is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled in an Irish higher education institution at the time of submission. In addition, to the overall award of €2,000, the judges may, at their discretion, make an additional award of €500 for a highly commended entry.

The closing date for submissions is April 30th 2021. For further information on the awards including guidance to entrants and past winners, see The Mary Mulvihill Award is a project of Remembering Mary (@RememberingMary) an initiative established by family and friends of Mulvihill, who died in 2015. Its aim is to honour her memory and her work in science journalism, science communication and heritage.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times