On Monday, September 15, 2014, the Blavatnik Family Foundation hosted its first annual celebration of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, honoring the scientific excellence and innovation of 27 National Finalists and 3 National Laureates.
This event gathered over 200 guests, including members of academia, business, and media. The guests, in black tie, were treated to an elegant evening at one of the most celebrated museums in the world, the American Museum of Natural History.
The evening formally began as the brass ensemble of the renowned Juilliard School played a processional of Fanfare for the Common Man and New York City high school students with a passion for science served as flag holders for the grand entrance of the Finalists and Laureates into the museum’s famed Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.
Ellis Rubinstein, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Academy of Sciences opened the evening with the introduction of the National Finalists and later spoke about the history of the Awards and the long-term partnership between the Academy and the Blavatnik Family Foundation. Mr. Rubinstein then proceeded with the formal introduction of the master of ceremonies, Dr. Eric Lander, Founding Director of the Broad Institute and member of the Blavatnik Awards Scientific Advisory Council.
The three National Laureates: Dr. Rachel Wilson, Dr. Marin Soljačić, and Dr. Adam Cohen were introduced during the evening by Dr. Cornelia Bargmann, Dr. Robbert Dijkgraaf, and Nobel Prize Laureate, Dr. Martin Chalfie, respectively. Each Laureate received a gold-plated custom medal from Len Blavatnik and followed with a presentation about their award-winning work.
“I am extremely happy with the success of the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists. We have created the support system and the selection process to recognize the best and the brightest. My hope is that the Awards and the Blavatnik National Laureates will make a huge impact on our society and the life of everyone in the 21st century,” said Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries and head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation.
The audience was also treated to two surprise announcements: the new Soljačić Prize for Gifted Croatian Children, established with a donation of prize money from Physical Sciences & Engineering Laureate Dr. Marin Soljačić; and a donation of prize money from Chemistry Laureate Adam Cohen to his alma mater Hunter College High School to support math and science activities.
The event was attended by Blavatnik Awards winners and finalists from previous years, members of the National Jury, and members of the Blavatnik Awards Scientific Advisory Council including Drs. Ron Breslow, Ruslan Medzhitov, and Marc Tessier-Lavigne. Other notable guests included Edgar Bronfman Jr.; Stephen Cooper, CEO of Warner Music Group; Dr. Joseph Goldstein, Nobel Prize Laureate; Ron Prosor, Israel's Permanent Representative to the United Nations; Dr. Bruce Stillman, President and CEO of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; Dr. Craig Thompson, President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Dr. Jan Vilcek, Founder and President of the Vilcek Foundation, and Jeff Zucker, President of CNN.