Marc Van Ranst wins career prize for scientific communication
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Marc Van Ranst wins career prize for scientific communication

Credit: Belga

Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst has won the Career Award Science Communication 2020.

The Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB) and the Young Academy are rewarding the professor of virology at KU Leuven for his career-long clear and broad communication about his field, even in very challenging circumstances.

“It does me a great deal to receive this prize from fellow scientists,” Van Ranst said. “All those interviews during all those years, you do them and you try to do that as well as possible. When that is appreciated, it’s very pleasant.”

Translation: Great gratitude for this recognition by the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium.

In order to find a balance between scientific nuance and clarity for the general public, Van Ranst always tries to speak to his grandfather. “He was a metal worker. If he understands it, then it’s good.”

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Van Ranst has been navigating Belgium through the Covid-19 pandemic since the beginning of this year, but the virologist is most proud of his communication on swine flu in 2009.

“At that time I had the privilege of experiencing this from the front row as a flu commissioner. Then you can do that communication from beginning to end.”

The jury, chaired by Elisabeth Monard (KVAB) and Damya Laoui (Young Academy VIB/VUB), appreciates his undeniably valuable contributions during the current pandemic, but also his special efforts to communicate with children.

“We talk too much about children and too little to children,” Van Ranst said. “It is important to communicate with them as well.”

In addition to Van Ranst, 19 other researchers or research teams will receive a prize for their creative and accessible communication about their research field. At a digital award ceremony on 16 November, it will be announced which of them will be awarded the Young Promise Prize and the EOS Audience Prize.

The Brussels Times