The annual awards honor the extraordinary achievements and outstanding promise of exceptional young scientists and engineers in the United States in three categories — physical sciences and engineering, chemistry, and life sciences. The three national laureates, each of whom will receive a cash award of $250,000, were selected from a pool of nominations submitted by a hundred and forty-eight of the most prominent universities and research institutions in the nation.
This year's Blavatnik Award winners are David Charbonneau, professor of astronomy at Harvard University, who has made numerous pioneering discoveries of exoplanets and developed novel observational methods that astronomers use to search for chemical fingerprints of life in space; Phil Baran, professor of chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute, in recognition of his transformative research in the field of natural product synthesis and his development of a synthetic methodology that enables chemists to design scalable, efficient, economically viable synthetic routes to potential drugs; and Michael Rape, professor of cell and developmental biology at University of California, Berkeley, whose fundamental discovery of "ubiquitylation" — a process of cellular signaling dependent on the protein ubiquitin — has emerged as a complex cellular language essential for information transfer and communication in nearly all organisms.
"The Blavatnik Family Foundation is pleased to recognize and promote the extraordinary work of our Laureates and to provide resources that support and encourage further exploration," said Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries, head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, and a member of the NYAS board of governors. "I am encouraged about the future of scientific thought and look forward to how the laureates and national finalists will inspire the next generation of scientists."