Asian Scientist Writing Prize – Winner Introduction

End last month, my colleague Eugene shared in a post how the inaugural Asian Scientist Writing Prize aims to grow a pool of writers and science communicators who can engage and provoke continued dialogue with a diverse audience. In this post, we would like to share the piece by Kate Tan, winner of Science Centre Singapore’s Youth Writing Prize of Asian Scientist Writing Prize 2015. In her article, Kate discussed whether race matters in healthcare and medical research. We also spoke with Kate to find out more about her interest in writing and her source of motivation. Enjoy the read!

Interview with Kate Tan

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Kate with her winning piece

SCS: Why did you decide to join the competition?

Kate: Today more than ever, society needs to be aware of and have a discussion about scientific issues, be it the ethics of stem cell research or the implications of genetic testing.

To do so, the scientific community must be able to communicate these issues in a way that is both easily understood and interesting – something that I see as a fun personal challenge.

This competition was an opportunity for me to tackle this challenge and try to channel my interest in science into an essay that I hope is accessible to others.

SCS: You said that you took part in the competition as a fun personal challenge. Have you always enjoyed writing?

Kate: Writing has always been an interest for me since young. I started off in creative writing, and I’ve been involved in the Creative Arts Programme (CAP), a creative writing camp run by the MOE, for the past 5 years. In fact, I served as head councillor for the programme just this June!

Through CAP, I’ve published a few works in the annual CAP anthology, ‘Eye on the World’. But ironically, it was CAP that made me realise that creative and literary writing wasn’t really my strength. Instead, I like to use writing to communicate ideas effectively and in an interesting way.

My goal is to use a humorous and simple style of writing to convey ideas about more ‘serious’ topics, such as science, politics or social issues. So the ASWP was really something that aligned quite perfectly with my style of writing.

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Kate receiving her prize from Minister Heng Swee Keat

SCS: How did you hear about the competition? 

Kate: I heard about the competition through my mum, who read it in the newspapers and thought that it was right up my alley. I did some research on the competition and found it a very interesting premise, since most essay competitions I’ve seen don’t revolve around the scientific field – and essay competitions that do involve the scientific field tend to be more research-based as compared to writing for an audience.

SCS: Have you taken part in similar writing competition before?

Kate: I’m lucky that my science combination at JC level has given me a good fundamental understanding of science to allow me to take part in the competition. But I’ve also taken part in a few other essay competitions about different subjects, such as the Edgar Jones Philosophy Essay Competition run by St. Peter’s College, Oxford University, for which I got a letter of commendation.

Kate’s interview is highly reflective of her passion in science writing. Do you share her passion? Share your thoughts with us here!

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