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Web Date: May 31, 2012

Kavli Prize Laureates Announced

Honors: MIT’s Mildred Dresselhaus, one of seven awardees, is honored for her work in nanoscience
By Susan J. Ainsworth
Department: ACS News
News Channels: Nano SCENE, Materials SCENE
Keywords: Mildred Dresselhaus, Kavli Prize, nanoscience, MIT
Credit: Ed Quinn

Seven researchers, including Mildred S. Dresselhaus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have been awarded the 2012 Kavli Prizes, which include a cash award of $1 million in each field. Dresselhaus, an emeritus professor of physics, computer science, and engineering, was awarded the prize for nanoscience.

Specifically, Dresselhaus is being honored for her “research into uniform oscillations of elastic arrangements of atoms or molecules called phonons, phonon-electron interactions, and heat conductivity in nanostructures,” according to a statement by the Norwegian Academy of Science & Letters. The Kavli Prizes are a partnership between the academy, The Kavli Foundation, and the Norwegian Ministry of Education & Research.

For more than 50 years, Dresselhaus has conducted seminal research that has helped characterize the properties of nanoscale materials and clarify how they differ from those of larger-scale materials. Early in her career, she conducted research on compounds made of different chemical species sandwiched between graphite layers—known as graphite intercalation compounds—and carbon fibers, which laid the foundation for subsequent discoveries involving the C60 buckyball, carbon nanotubes, and graphene, according to the statement.

This year’s Kavli Prize in Neuroscience is shared by Cornelia Isabella Bargmann, Torsten N. Wiesel Professor at Rockefeller University; Winfried Denk, a professor at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, in Heidelberg, Germany; and Ann M. Graybiel, Institute Professor in MIT’s department of brain and cognitive science. They are being recognized “for elucidating basic neuronal mechanisms underlying perception and decision,” the statement reports.

The astrophysics prize is shared by David C. Jewitt, a professor in the departments of Earth and space sciences and physics and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles; Jane X. Luu, a staff member at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory; and Michael E. Brown, a professor of planetary astronomy at California Institute of Technology. They are being honored “for discovering and characterizing the Kuiper Belt and its largest members, work that led to a major advance in the understanding of the history of our planetary system,” the academy’s announcement says.

Norway’s King Harald will present the Kavli Prizes at an award ceremony in Oslo on Sept. 4.

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