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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Royal honours for Kavli Prize winners

Norway’s King Harald was on hand once again to formally present the prestigious Kavli Prizes in Oslo on Monday. The prizes are awarded for outstanding achievement in the fields of nanoscience, neuroscience and astrophysics.

King Harald presenting the Kavli Prize in neuroscience to Cornelia Isabella Bargmann, Winfried Denk og Ann Martin Graybiel. PHOTO: The Kavli Prizes

They were initiated by Norwegian emigrant Fred Kavli, who earned a fortune as an engineer and entrepreneur in California after leaving Norway as a young man. He’s sharing that fortune in a concerted effort to promote and reward individual scientists and researchers in the three fields he chose as especially important.

This year’s winners included four women among the seven selected within the three prize categories. The prize for achievement in astrophysics was shared by David Jewitt of the University of California, Jane Luu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Michael Edwards Brown of the California Institute of Technology, all in the US. They won for “discovering and characterizing the Kuiper Belt and its largest members,” which led to “a major advance in the understanding of the history of our planetary system.”

The prize for neuroscience was shared by Cornelia Isabella Bargmann of Rockefeller University in the US; Winfried Denk of the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Germany and Ann M Graybiel of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology in the US. They received the prize for “elucidating basic neuronal mechanisms underlying perception and decision.”

The Kavli Prize in nanoscience was awarded to Mildred Dresselhaus, also of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, “for her pioneering contributions to the study of phonons, electron-phonon interactions and thermal transport in nanostructures.” Dresselhaus is known as “the queen of nano” and is the first sole winner of a Kavli Prize.

The prizes are awarded through a partnership between The Kavli Foundation in the US, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and Norway’s Ministry of Education and Research. Each of the prize winners receives a gold medal, a scroll and a share of the USD 1 million awarded in each of the three categories. The presentation of the awards this year included the prize ceremony, a seminar at which Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg spoke, a formal banquet that also was attended by King Harald and a concert that’s free and open to the public.

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