Established in 2002 by film and media entrepreneur Sir Run Run Shaw, the prizes honor individuals who have achieved significant breakthroughs in academic and scientific research and whose work has had a profound and positive impact on humankind. Each prize comes with a cash award of $1.2 million.
The 2020 Shaw Prize in Astronomy was awarded to Roger D. Blandford, Luke Blossom Professor in Stanford University's School of Humanities and Sciences and professor at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, in recognition of his contributions to our fundamental understanding of active galactic nuclei, the formation and collimation of relativistic jets, the energy extraction mechanism of black holes, and the acceleration and relevant radiation mechanisms of particles in shocks.
The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine will be shared by Gero Miesenböck, Waynflete Professor of Physiology and director of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at the University of Oxford; Peter Hegemann, Hertie Professor for Neuroscience and head of the Department of Biophysics at Humboldt University in Berlin; and Georg Nagel, professor of molecular plant-physiology in the Department for Molecular Plant-Physiology and Biophysics–Botany I at the University of Würzburg, in recognition of their role in the development of optogenetics, a technology that has revolutionized neuroscience.
And the Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences will be shared by Alexander Beilinson, David and Mary Winton Green University Professor at the University of Chicago, and David Kazhdan, professor of mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in recognition of their outsize influence on and profound contributions to representation theory as well as other areas of mathematics.