The New York Academy of Sciences 12th Annual Gala
The Gala celebrated the critical role of science and technology in solving humanity's major global challenges.
Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, spoke to the Gala audience.
The Gala, which falls only six weeks after the United Nations announced its landmark "Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals" honored United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, for their visionary roles in leading the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), respectively. Both honorees were featured in a video depicting the successes of the MDGs and the promise of the SDGs.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was called away on an urgent United Nations overseas trip, was represented at the Gala by his wife, Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, who provided remarks on behalf of her husband. She stressed the importance of science in working towards the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the need to increase diversity in science, including recruiting more women as scientists and engineers.
Both honorees were named Honorary Members of the Academy, a special category of Membership that has existed since the Academy's founding in 1817. In that year, Presidents Thomas Jefferson & James Monroe were named Honorary Members. In subsequent years, Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, Lord Kelvin, Alexander von Humboldt, James Joule, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Margaret Mead, Gro Harlem Brundtland, and scores of Nobel laureates were also awarded honorary memberships.
Later in the evening, the Academy showed a video introducing two new virtual programs of the Academy's Global STEM Alliance: The Junior Academy and 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures, which connect students all over the world with experts in STEM subjects, real-world research opportunities, and coursework on topics that are essential for helping students become the STEM innovators of tomorrow.
Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of The Clinton Foundation, was presented with a Lifetime Membership to the New York Academy of Sciences.
Academy Board Chair and Chancellor of the State University of New York Nancy Zimpher then presented Honorary Gala Chair Chelsea Clinton, whose work as the Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation furthers the potential of women and children, particularly in the area of education, with the Academy's STEM Hero Award, as well as a Lifetime Membership to the Academy.
Building on the theme of scientific innovation, the Academy recognized today's most exciting researchers with the annual announcement of the Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists. Established in 2007 by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the awards program recognizes researchers who make innovative and impactful advances in life sciences, chemistry, and physical sciences and engineering. Three winners and six finalists from the New York tri-state area were celebrated for their exceptional research.
The 2015 Gala was underwritten by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and Jim & Marilyn Simons, with additional funding from a host of generous corporate and individual supporters.
From left to right: Joanna Rubinstein, President & CEO, World Childhood Foundation US; Ambassador Young-Shim Dho & Chairperson of the UN World Tourism Organization's Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty Foundation; Ellis Rubinstein, President & CEO, The New York Academy of Sciences; Madam Ban Soon-Taek; Andrea Illy, Chairman and CEO of Illycaffè, Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor of SUNY & Academy Board Chair; Her Excellency Ambassador Qiyue Zhang, Consul General, Chinese Consulate General in New York.