Europlanet Prize 2012 Announcement
April 24, 2012

Europlanet honours inspirational outreach role-model Yaël Nazé with Prize for Excellence in Public Engagement with Planetary Science

The Belgian scientist and writer Yaël Nazé has been awarded the 2012 Europlanet prize for excellence in public engagement with planetary science. While Dr Nazé’s research interests at the University of Liège focus on massive stars, she has looked closer to home – the Solar System – to inspire young and old and share her love of science.

Over the past 15 years, Dr Nazé has carried out a diverse outreach programme carefully tailored to audiences across the spectrum of society, including children, artists and elderly people. She has been particularly active in highlighting the contribution of women to planetary science and showing opportunities for girls looking at careers in astronomy. Following the publication in 2006 of her book ‘L’astronomie au feminin’, she has given many public lectures and was invited to attend several roundtable discussions and debates.

Dr Nazé, together with a colleague, pioneered a service for journalists giving daily summaries of space news translated into French. She designed a permanent exhibition on the Solar System for the pediatric ward of the Bruyères Hospital in Belgium. She has given more than 100 public talks worldwide on planetary subjects and is a prolific writer of popular science articles. Dr Nazé is also the award-winning author of seven books, including the ‘L’astronomie des anciens’, which won the Jean Rostand Prize for the best work of popular science in the French language in 2009. She has even written a cookbook inspired by the planets, which includes a recipe for Io pizza.

The award of 4000 Euros will be presented to Dr Nazé at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2012, which will take place at the IFEMA-Feria de Madrid, Spain 23 – 28 September 2012.

“The range of Yaël Nazé’s outreach activities over the years has been extraordinary in its energy, range, imagination and special care in attracting hard to reach audiences,” said Dr Thierry Fouchet, Outreach Coordinator for Europlanet. “She sets the standard for researchers active in public engagement. With this prize, we hope to encourage planetary scientists across Europe to follow her example and be inspired about the amount that one person can achieve.”

“Planets are a real ‘stargate’ – there is no better tool than showing images and movies obtained by (European) scientists to move imaginations beyond the limits, and inspire people, from 7 to 77 years old! “ said Dr Nazé


photoyn_harryfaytImage of Yaël Nazé. Credit: Harry Fayt






Further information about Yaël Nazé can be found at:

The Europlanet Research Infrastructure is a major (€6 million) programme co-funded by the European Union under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission.
The Europlanet Research Infrastructure links more than 100 laboratories in Europe and around the world. The project aims to integrate and consolidate the planetary science community in Europe by organising networking activities, meetings and conferences, providing access to laboratories and field sites in Europe, developing new facilities and field sites and creating online access to planetary science data. Through its outreach activities, Europlanet aims to create a dynamic network of people across Europe involved in public engagement with planetary science, motivate and enable European planetary scientists to be involved with outreach activities and find innovative ways of raising the profile of Europe’s planetary science activity among citizens, as well as policy makers and industry.
Europlanet Project website:
Europlanet Outreach Website:
Twitter: @europlanetmedia

EPSC 2012 will take place from 23 – 28 September 2012 at the IFEMA-Feria de Madrid, Spain. The meeting will bring together the international community of specialists in the planetary sciences to present and discuss the latest results of research on the solar system and other solar systems.
The five-day meeting will be organized in parallel sessions of oral and poster presentations as well as workshops related to research, teaching and outreach in the planetary sciences. EPSC 2012 website:

Welcoming over 20 000 students (nearly a quarter of international origin), 2800 teachers and researchers, and offering one of the most diversified educational offers in francophone Belgium, the University of Liege has links with over 600 institutions world-wide, integrated in vast international academic and scientific networks. The University of Liege plays an important role as a creator of activities with high value added and in providing dynamism to technological centres uniting business companies and public operators (biomedical, space industry, environment, etc.). It is also a renowned centre for space science. It offers the two sole masters linked to space activities (aerospace, space sciences) in Belgium. More than 100 researchers work in Liege to build satellites and space instruments, monitor our climate, study planetary systems, stars or distant galaxies.
University of Liège website: