The names of the eight scientists sharing this year’s Kavli Prizes have been announced.
Jerry Nelson, Ray Wilson, Roger Angel, Thomas Südhof, Richard Scheller, James Rothman, Donald Eigler, Nadrian Seeman, were declared winners in Oslo by Nils Stenseth, president of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (and – via videolink – at the World Science Festival in New York).
“The Kavli Prizes help enhance the status in the society of science in general and astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience in particular,” said Stenseth (pictured right). “The prize winners furthermore serve as good role models for young people, motivating them to choose a career in science.”
These are only the second ever recipients of Kavli Prizes, the biennial awards launched in 2008 by Fred Kavli [corrected 3/6]. Recipients in the fields of astrophysics, neuroscience and nanoscience each receive a scroll, a gold medal and (perhaps most importantly) a share of the $1 million pot for each discipline.
Jerry Nelson, Ray Wilson and Roger Angel share the astrophysics prize for their engineering advances in telescopes. Angel, of the University of Arizona, Tucson, is honoured for his development of lightweight honeycomb mirrors. Wilson, ex of Imperial College London, is included for his work with computer-controlled actuators that change mirrors’ shapes to correct distortions, bringing about ‘adaptive optics’ (he recently also won the Tycho Brahe Prize 2010 for this work). Nelson, of UC Santa Cruz, also works on adaptive optics and his share of the prize is for developing multiple, small mirrors that replace the single-large mirror system.
In neuroscience, Thomas Südhof, Richard Scheller, and James Rothman share the prize for their work in signalling between brain cells. Südhof, of Stanford University School of Medicine, and Scheller, of Genentech, worked on neurotransmitter release, specifically relating to vesicles, while Rothman, of Yale University, further developed our understanding of vesicles.
In nanoscience two scientists share the prize: Donald Eigler, of IBM, and Nadrian Seeman, of New York University. Eigler developed the original techniques for moving atoms (he famously wrote ‘IBM’ using 35 xenon atoms). Seeman is pioneer in DNA nanotechnology.
“The Kavli Prizes were established to recognize truly exceptional scientists whose research has fundamentally and profoundly advanced our understanding of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience,” says philanthropist Fred Kavli (press release). “With this year’s prizes, we continue to honour these pioneering researchers and their discoveries.”
Profile: Fred Kavli – Nature Biotechnology, 2008