(Left to right) 2023 Blavatnik Regional Awards Laureates: Yanxiang Deng, Zoe Yan, Joonho Lee; 2023 Blavatnik National Awards Laureate William Anderegg; Presenter of Ceremonies, France A. Córdova; President and CEO of The New York Academy of Sciences, Nicholas Dirks; 2023 Blavatnik National Awards Laureates Svitlana Mayboroda and Shannon Boettcher.
The Blavatnik Family Foundation and The New York Academy of Sciences hosted the 2023 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists Ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on September 19, 2023. The event honored the 2023 Blavatnik National Awards Laureates and Finalists as well as the 2023 Blavatnik Regional Awards Laureates and Finalists. France Anne Córdova, President of the Science Philanthropy Alliance, former director of the National Science Foundation, and the first woman to be chief scientist for NASA, served as presenter. A distinguished group of leaders from the worlds of philanthropy, academia, science, and technology was joined at the event by notable members from New York’s artistic community including Carnegie Hall’s artistic director Sir Clive Gillinson, Robert Kyncl, CEO of Warner Music, Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s global head of music; and Lauren Selig of Shake and Bake Productions.
During her opening remarks, Córdova spoke about the impact the Blavatnik Awards have made on scientists’ careers: “A recent survey of Blavatnik honorees showed that in the two years following their first recognition, more than half reported feeling validation and increased confidence after receiving a Blavatnik Award. These awards help recipients progress in their careers and increase their visibility. They also give honorees the courage to pursue high-risk, high-reward research. After recognition, 75% started a new research direction and many started a new collaboration with another Blavatnik Awards honoree.”
Next, Córdova introduced the 31 Blavatnik National Awards Finalists who each came on stage, receiving a standing ovation from the audience.
The ceremony then turned its spotlight on the talented young scientists being recognized as part of the 2023 Blavatnik Regional Awards -- nine postdoctoral fellows selected from among 121 outstanding nominees from 28 academic institutions in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Córdova called each Regional Finalist to the stage who received a round of applause. Short videos featuring each of the three Regional Laureates were then presented. Córdova called the Regional Laureates to the stage and awarded each with a medal in their award category:
- 2023 Blavatnik Regional Awards Laureate in Chemistry, quantum chemist Joonho Lee, nominated by Columbia University and currently at Harvard University
- 2023 Blavatnik Regional Awards Laureate in Physical Sciences & Engineering, physicist Zoe Yan, nominated by Princeton University and currently at The University of Chicago
- 2023 Blavatnik Regional Awards Laureate in Life Sciences, biomedical engineer Yanxiang Deng, nominated by Yale University and now at the University of Pennsylvania
Nicholas B. Dirks, President and CEO of The New York Academy of Sciences, led the next part of the evening’s ceremony. Dirks commented on the power of community within the Blavatnik Awards program. “Scientists who make up this community aren’t just achieving incredible things in isolation; they’re also inspiring and nurturing the next generation of scientists. In addition, they’re collaborating. In doing so, they’re making discoveries beyond what they might have been able to do on their own.” Dirks gave a presentation featuring numerous collaborations that came about through the Blavatnik Awards community. Dirks then highlighted other innovations that have had a direct impact on humankind and fostered economic growth. “With the confidence and financial support provided by the Blavatnik Awards, our community of Blavatnik Scholars has founded more than 50 companies, some publicly traded today on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. There is no question that together – and as individuals – they are driving economic growth at home and abroad while using science to advance the public good.”
Córdova announced the 2023 Blavatnik National Awards Laureates by introducing a video profile of each Laureate. Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman, Access Industries and the Blavatnik Family Foundation, then conferred the medals to each of the Laureates, who went on to deliver brief presentations showcasing their prize-winning research.
- 2023 Blavatnik National Awards Laureate in Life Sciences, forest ecologist expert William Anderegg, from the University of Utah, spoke about his research on how climate change is impacting the earth’s forests.
- 2023 Blavatnik National Awards Laureate in Physical Sciences & Engineering, mathematician Svitlana Mayboroda, University of Minnesota, gave a talk on her discoveries in mathematics that are unlocking the potential of electronic waves - ideas that can lead to crucial new 21st-century technologies.
- 2023 Blavatnik National Awards Laureate in Chemistry, materials chemist Shannon Boettcher, from the University of Oregon, spoke about his discoveries in electrochemistry which are enabling new sustainable methods to create fuels, plastics, fertilizers, and other important chemicals.
The ceremony concluded with the Blavatnik Awards tradition of making a “Toast to Science.”
Visit the Blavatnik Awards website to learn more.