2018 Kavli Prize Laureates Announcement

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May 31, 2018 - 5:30am to 7:00am

2018 marks the tenth anniversary of the Kavli Prize, which recognizes scientists for major advances in three research areas: astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience—the big, the small, and the complex. On May 31, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced the 2018 Kavli Prize Laureates in Astrophysics, Nanoscience, and Neuroscience. The event — webcast live from the Academy in Oslo, Norway and the World Science Festival, New York City — featured the keynote address at this year’s Kavli Prize announcement event:  the Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Following the announcement of the winners, renowned scientists in the fields of neuroscience, nanoscience, and astrophysics, including Laura Greene and Irwin Shapiro, and Leslie Vosshall discusssx the scientific achievements of the Kavli Laureates and provide insights into the next wave of research and opportunities within these dynamic fields.

For the announcement from The Norwegian Academy of Science and letters only, click here

The Kavli Prizes recognize scientists for pioneering advances in our understanding of existence at its biggest, smallest, and most complex scales. Presented every two years in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience, each of three international prizes consists of $1 million (U.S.). Laureates are chosen by committees whose members  are recommended by six of the world’s most renowned science societies and academies. Winners receive gold medals in Oslo, Norway, in a ceremony presided over by His Majesty King Harald. A banquet takes place at Oslo’s famed City Hall, the venue of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. First awarded in 2008, the Kavli Prizes have so far honored 40 scientists from eight countries − the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland.

About the Keynote Speaker

Shirley Ann JacksonThe Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., has served as the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute since 1999. Described by Time Magazine as “perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science,” Dr. Jackson has held senior leadership positions in academia, government, industry, and research. She served as Co-Chair of the United States President’s Intelligence Advisory Board from 2014 to 2017 and as a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology from 2009 to 2014. Before taking the helm at Rensselaer, Dr. Jackson was Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 1995 to 1999. In 2016, Dr. Jackson was awarded the National Medal of Science for her work in condensed matter physics and particle physics and for science-rooted public policy achievements. Dr. Jackson holds an S.B. in Physics, and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics, both from MIT.



Live from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Oslo, the President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announces the 2018 Kavli Prize laureates, with presentations by the Kavli Prize Committee Chairs. Moderator, science writer Adam Rutherford.

Ole M. SejerstedOle M. Sejersted (Presenter) is President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and Professor Emeritus and former Head of the Institute for Experimental Research at the University of Oslo. Founded in 1857, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters is a non-governmental, nationwide body which embraces all fields of learning. The Academy acts as a national contact body both within the individual scientific disciplines and between these, and represents Norwegian science vis-à-vis foreign academies and other international scientific organizations.


Adam RutherfordAdam Rutherford (Moderator) is a science writer and broadcaster with a degree in evolutionary biology and a PhD in genetics. He is currently an editor at the science journal Nature where he makes podcasts and and short films about new research, and writes for The Guardian (United Kingdom). As a science writer, he covers all fields while specializing in evolution and human biology. Adam has made "Men In White" for Channel 4 (UK), "The Cell" and "The Gene Code" for BBC 4. The former was broadcast in over 40 countries and placed in the Daily Telegraph’s list of 10 Classic science programs. He has conducted several interviews for The Culture Show, BBC 2.

Mats Carlsson Mats Carlsson, Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, UiO, Norway (Astrophysics Chair)

Professor Mats Carlsson's academic interests include solar physics, stellar atmosphere modeling, radiation magneto hydrodynamics and space projects. He is the President of the European Association for Solar Telescopes (EAST),  board member of the Norwegian Space Centre (NSC) and member of the Board of Reviewing Editors (BRE) in Science magazine. He is the director of the Rosseland Centre for Solar Physics, a centre of excellence with funding from the Research Council of Norway. He received the Arctowski medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 2017.

Arne BrataasArne Brataas, Department of Physics, NTNU, Norway (Nanoscience Chair)

Arne Brataas received his Ph.D. in physics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in 1997. He is the director of the Center of Excellence QuSpin. He has been a postdoctoral fellow at TU Delft (1997-1999) and Harvard University (1999-2002) and, since 2002, professor at his alma mater. He is the chairman of the Kavli Prize committee in Nanoscience and a recipient of the 2015 ERC Advanced Grant. His main interests are the theory of spin transport and dynamics in insulating and conducting nanostructured materials.

Ole Petter OttersenOle Petter Ottersen, President of Karolinska Institutet, Sweden (Neuroscience Chair)

Professor Ole Petter Ottersen is a physician and neuroscientist, and serves as the president of Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He took office in August 2017. Ottersen has been professor of medicine at the University of Oslo since 1992 and served as the university's elected Rector from 2009 to 2017.He has been head of department of the Institute of Anatomy (1997--1999), Pro-Dean for Research of the Faculty of Medicine (2000--2002) and director of the Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience at the University of Oslo (2002--2009), a centre of excellence funded by the Research Council of Norway.[1] He was editor-in-chief of the journal Neuroscience 2006-2009. 



Brian GreeneBrian Greene (Moderator) is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, and is recognized for a number of groundbreaking discoveries in his field of superstring theory. His books The Elegant UniverseThe Fabric of the Cosmos, and The Hidden Reality have collectively spent 65 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and were the basis of two award-winning NOVA mini-series, which he hosted. In 2008, he co-founded the World Science Festival where he serves as chairman of the board.


Laura GreeneLaura H. Greene is the chief scientist at the National MagLab, Eppes Professor of Physics at Florida State University, and past-president of the American Physical Society. Her research is in quantum materials, including high-temperature superconductivity. Greene’s service includes being a Commission Chair and a vice president of the Council of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, on the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and co-chair for the Decadal Survey for Materials Research for the NAS.

Greene is a member of the NAS, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Physics (UK), the AAAS, and the APS. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow and garnered numerous awards, including the Lawrence Award from the U.S. Department of Energy, and the APS Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award. She has co-authored over 200 publications and presented over 500 invited talks.

Irwin ShapiroIrwin Shapiro is the Timken University Professor at Harvard University and had been the Director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics from 1983 until 2004. He is best known for his tests of general relativity, especially the so-called fourth test of what is known as the Shapiro delay, the predicted slowing down of light signals passing massive objects.

Leslie VosshallLeslie B. Vosshall is a molecular neurobiologist who studies how behaviors emerge from the integration of sensory input with internal physiological states. She is the Robin Chemers Neustein Professor, Head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, and Director of the Kavli Neural Systems Institute at The Rockefeller University. Vosshall is known for her work on the genetic basis of chemosensory behavior in both insects and humans. Vosshall received an A.B. in Biochemistry from Columbia University in 1987 and a Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University in 1993. Following postdoctoral work at Columbia University, she joined the Rockefeller faculty in 2000. She is the recipient of the 2008 Lawrence C. Katz Prize from Duke University, the 2010 DART/NYU Biotechnology Award, the 2011 Gill Young Investigator Award. Vosshall is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2015.