Recipients of the 2019 Breakthrough Prize were celebrated recently at a glittering awards ceremony held at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View.
Often called the “Oscars of Science”, the 7th annual event brought together luminaries in the science and tech communities, alongside celebrities, athletes, musicians and dozens of current and prior Breakthrough Prize laureates for a festive celebration of science.
A combined total of $22 million was awarded during the evening, in recognition of groundbreaking, research achievements in Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics.
Each Breakthrough Prize is $3 million, the largest individual monetary prize in science.
Acclaimed actor, producer and philanthropist Pierce Brosnan guided the program, which featured performances by Academy Award winner and four-time Grammy Award winner Lionel Richie and Chinese Music Sensation G.E.M..
There were also presentations from Orlando Bloom, Ron Howard, Rachel McAdams, Julianne Moore, Thandie Newton, Lupita Nyong’o, and Eddie Redmayne.
A highlight of the evening was a tribute to the late astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, which featured statements by Eddie Redmayne and Hawking’s daughter, Lucy Hawking.
Hawking inspired the theme of the evening — “Look up” – based on a quote in his final book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions:
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”
Prize recipients included Dr. Frank Bennett, Adrian R. Krainer, Angelika Amon, Xiaowei Zhuang, Zhijian “James” Chen, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Charles Kane, Eugene Mele, Vincent Lafforgue, Brian Metzger, Rana Adhikari, Lisa Barsotti, Matthew Evans, Daniel Harlow, Daniel L. Jafferis, Aron Wall, Chenyang Xu, Karim Adiprasito, June Huh, Kaisa Matomäki, Maksym Radziwill.
“Every year I am inspired by the Breakthrough Prize laureates and the deep insights that are made possible by pure curiosity-driven research,” said Breakthrough Prize co-founder, Anne Wojcicki.
“This year is particularly special, with the special recognition of Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s groundbreaking contributions at a time when women were underrepresented and unrecognized,” she added.
Additionally, a “Breakthrough Junior Challenge” prize was awarded to 16-year old Samay Godika of India. He’ll receive $250,000 in educational prizes, which his science teacher will receive $50,000, and his school, the National Public School, in Koramangala, will receive a new science laboratory valued at $100,000 designed by and in partnership with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Directed and produced by Don Mischer was broadcast live on National Geographic TV on November 4th.