Posted on behalf of Lee Sweetlove.
Two scientists have been awarded the prestigious International Balzan Prize for 2011, announced in Milan last night.
American evolutionary biologist and ecologist, Russell Lande, currently a Royal Society Research Professor at Imperial College, London is honoured for his contributions to the development and application of theoretical population biology. Lande’s stochastic theory is a key part of modern ideas of quantitative genetics, explaining the evolution of quantitative traits by genetic drift and natural selection.
British astrophysicist Joseph Silk is recognised for his pioneering work on the early evolution of the universe through study of phenomena such as dark matter and the effect of space curvature on fluctuations of the Cosmic Microwave Background. He is Savilian Professor of Astronomy at the University of Oxford and also holds positions at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris and the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
The International Balzan Prize Foundation, based in Milan and Zurich, awards four prizes each year, in each of two broad categories: literature, moral sciences and the arts; and physical, mathematical and natural sciences and medicine. This year’s prizes are worth 750,000 Swiss Francs (roughly US$875,000) each, half of which must be spent on research, preferably involving young scholars and researchers.