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Announcing the Stellar Blavatnik National Awards Winners

Three National Laureates — including an ecologist from Stony Brook University, a theoretical physicist from University of Colorado Boulder and a chemical biologist from Harvard University — will each receive $250,000.

Published June 26, 2019

Blavatnik 2019 Finalists

Three stellar female scientists were named the 2019 Laureates of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists for their outstanding achievements and future promise in their respective fields of scientific research. It is the first time in the program’s 13-year history that all of the recipients are women. Each Laureate will receive $250,000, the largest unrestricted scientific prize offered to faculty-level scientific researchers 42 years of age and younger in the United States.

The 2019 National Laureates are:

  • Life Sciences: Heather J. Lynch, Stony Brook University, for her unique synthesis of cutting-edge statistics, mathematical models, satellite remote sensing and Antarctic field biology to understand the spatial and temporal patterns of penguin colonies to predict population growth, collapse and possible extinction in the face of climate change.
  • Physical Sciences & Engineering: Ana Maria Rey, University of Colorado Boulder, for her pioneering contributions to the field of theoretical atomic, molecular and optical physics, including her paradigm-shifting theories on atomic collisions, which led to the development of the world’s most accurate atomic clock.
  • Chemistry: Emily Balskus, Harvard University, for her transformative work identifying the novel chemistry of the gut microbiome and deciphering its role in human health and disease.

Nominated by 169 research institutions from 44 states, the Blavatnik National Awards received 343 nominations in the awards’ three disciplines — Life Sciences, Physical Sciences & Engineering and Chemistry the largest pool of nominees ever received by the program.


“Our Academy has always supported diversity in STEM, so we are incredibly proud to see these three [female] scientists named as 2019 National Laureates It is also the first time a Hispanic immigrant [from Colombia] will be honored as a National Laureate — a wonderful role model for Latina girls considering a STEM career.”

— Ellis Rubinstein


“Our academy has always supported diversity in STEM, so we are incredibly proud to see these three scientists named as 2019 National Laureates,” said Ellis Rubinstein, president and New York Academy of Sciences CEO and chairman of the Awards’ Scientific Advisory Council. “It is also the first time a Hispanic immigrant [from Colombia] will be honored as a National Laureate — a wonderful role model for Latina girls considering a STEM career. In addition, with the increasing threat of climate change, the Academy, in collaboration with the United Nations and its Sustainable Development Goals, aims to address the grand challenges of the planet, so we are encouraged to see an expert Antarctic ecologist join the growing global community of Blavatnik Awards scholars that together can help us find sustainable solutions for our planet.”

The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in the United States in 2007 and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, began by identifying outstanding regional scientific talent in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The Blavatnik National Awards were launched in 2014 and, in 2017, the Awards were expanded to young scientists in the United Kingdom and Israel. By the close of 2019, the Blavatnik Awards will have awarded prizes totaling over $8.4 million and will have recognized 284 young scientists and engineers from 45 countries, working in 35 scientific and engineering disciplines.

The 2019 Blavatnik National Laureates and Finalists will be honored at the Blavatnik National Awards ceremony on Monday, Sept. 23, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

To learn more about this year’s Blavatnik Laureates and other honorees, please visit the Blavatnik website here and follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @BlavatnikAwards