Professor Philipp Kukura, Fellow in Physical Chemistry at Exeter College, has been named a finalist in the 2018 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the United Kingdom. He will receive US$30,000 in unrestricted funds in recognition of his pioneering work in single-molecule scale microscopy and spectroscopy that enable the study of native, unlabelled molecules in real time. His particular focus is on biological macromolecules such as proteins as they interact with drugs or self-assemble with each other.
The Blavatnik Family Foundation, with the guidance of the New York Academy of Sciences, founded the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists to celebrate the innovative achievements of postdoctoral and faculty scientists aged 42 or younger. Unlike awards that honour scientists late in their careers, the Blavatnik Awards aim to identify and encourage promising young scientists early in their careers, when they are most in need of funding and recognition. The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists have recognised scientists and engineers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut since 2007, but this is the first time the Awards have been presented to people working in the UK.
On being named a finalist Professor Kukura said: “I am incredibly honoured to be part of the first cohort of Blavatnik awardees in the UK. It’s a unique acknowledgment of our science in a way that traditionally only happens much later in a scientific career, if at all, making it particularly special.”
Professor Kukura is one of nine academics to be recognised in the UK. The Blavatnik Awards recognise academics in three categories — Life Sciences, Chemistry, and Physical Sciences and Engineering — with one laureate in each category receiving US$100,000 in unrestricted funds and two finalists per category each receiving US$30,000. Four scientists from the University of Oxford are among the laureates and finalists this year. Along with Professor Kukura, who was named a finalist in Chemistry, Professor Andrew Goodwin of the Department of Chemistry has been named as the 2018 Chemistry laureate, Professor Henry Snaith of the Department of Physics has been named the Physical Sciences and Engineering laureate, and Professor Timothy Behrens of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences has been named as a Life Sciences finalist. You can read more about their research here.
Professor Louise Richardson, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: “We are all delighted to learn of this public recognition for some of our most creative young researchers.
“It speaks to their potential to improve our understanding of ourselves and the world around us, as well as to inspire others to grapple with the most vexing scientific challenges. It is exciting to think of the future impact of their transformative research.”
In this inaugural year of the Blavatnik Awards in the UK, 124 nominations were received from 67 academic and research institutions across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. A distinguished jury of leading senior scientists and engineers from throughout the UK selected the laureates and finalists.
The UK laureates and finalists will be honoured at a gala dinner and ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on 7 March, 2018.