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Young Scientists Awards Expand

Honors: Blavatnik Awards program to support young science faculty members goes national

by Susan J. Ainsworth
May 31, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 22

CORRECTION: This story was updated on Oct. 9, 2013, to correct the statement that Access Industries includes LyondellBasell Industries. LyondellBasell is no longer part of Access Industries, though Access retains some stock in LyondellBasell.

A program to identify and support the most promising young science faculty from a variety of institutions is expanding. The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) are going nationwide with their annual Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists competition.

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Credit: Michael Ian Photography
Blavatnik (left) and Rubinstein attend last year’s Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists ceremony.
A photograph of Len Blavatnik (left) and Ellis Rubinstein.
Credit: Michael Ian Photography
Blavatnik (left) and Rubinstein attend last year’s Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists ceremony.

Under the expanded program, three of the U.S.’s most innovative researchers who are 42 years of age or younger will each be awarded an unrestricted cash prize of $250,000. The honorees will be selected from the fields of chemistry, life sciences, and physical sciences and engineering.

Launched in 2007, the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists competition initially recognized only those scientists who worked in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. The Blavatnik Family Foundation has provided some $30 million to support expansion of the program.

“Our goal is to celebrate America’s exceptional young scientists and showcase their achievements to inspire the next generation of scientists,” says Leonard Blavatnik, head of the foundation and founder and chairman of Access Industries, an industrial group with holdings in chemicals and other fields. The Blavatnik Family Foundation “is committed to supporting groundbreaking work in science and technology to address society’s most pressing global problems.”

Nominations from leading research universities, independent research institutions, and academic medical centers for the first national awards competition will be accepted from September to December. Nominations may also come from a scientific advisory council made up of past Blavatnik Awards recipients and renowned scientists, including many prominent chemists. Eligibility rules and other award information are available at http://www.nyas.org/awards/blavatnik.aspx.

Applications will be judged by a panel composed of more than 60 of the nation’s most distinguished scientists, including chemists Ronald Breslow of Columbia University; Joseph DeSimone of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Harry B. Gray of California Institute of Technology; Peter G. Schultz of Scripps Research Institute California; and biochemist Robert Tjian of Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The panel will select recipients on the basis of the quality, novelty, and impact of each scientist’s research program. Winners will be honored at an awards ceremony in September 2014.

The long-term goal of the awards is to create a pipeline of support for young science faculty who will then go on to mentor the next generation, says Ellis Rubinstein, president and chief executive officer of NYAS.

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