First awarded in 2008, the prizes recognize scientists for their contributions to pioneering advances in our understanding of existence at its biggest, smallest, and most complex scales. The biannual prizes are awarded in partnership with the California-based Kavli Foundation and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and include a gold medal and cash award of $1 million.
The 2020 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics was awarded to Andrew Fabian, director of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, who used X-ray astronomy to obtain evidence that supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies drive a flow of hot gas out of galaxies, a process that redistributes energy across the universe and provides the building blocks for future galaxy formation. The Kavli Prize in Nanoscience was awarded to Harald Rose, senior professor at the University of Ulm in Germany; Maximilian Haider, honorary professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and co-founder, senior advisor, and former president of the Corrected Electron Optical Systems GmbH in his native Austria; Knut Urban, former director of the Institute of Microstructure Research at Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany; and Ondrej L. Krivanek, affiliate professor at Arizona State University, who together developed "aberration-corrected lenses" that make possible imaging on a subatomic scale. And the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience was awarded to David Julius, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and Ardem Patapoutian, a molecular biologist at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, in recognition of their independent discoveries of sensory receptors for temperature and pressure, respectively.
"Their work is a beautiful example of scientific ingenuity, dedication, and persistence. They have enabled humanity to see where we could not see before," said Bodil Holst, chair of the Kavli Prize Committee in Neuroscience. "Honoring these scientists and sharing with the world who they are and how they have transformed research, technology, industries, and our lives is more important than ever."