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Academy Honors Leaders in Sustainability & Science at Sixth Annual Gala

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, climate change Expert Rajendra Pachauri, and Nobel laureate Martin Chalfie are recognized; winners of the 2009 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists are also announced.

Published November 16, 2009

NEW YORK—More than 450 global leaders of academia, government, industry, and media were in attendance for the New York Academy of Sciences’ Sixth Annual Science & the City Gala here tonight. Three Nobel laureates, the presidents of more than 15 major universities and research institutions, and a dozen foreign dignitaries were among those who gathered for the benefit dinner and awards banquet on the theme “Celebrating Sustainable Cities.” The event raised more than $1 million for New York Academy of Sciences programming.

The evening’s honorees, PepsiCo Chairman & CEO Indra K. Nooyi and Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, were presented with Sustainability Awards by Academy President & CEO, Ellis Rubinstein. “In honoring leaders in sustainability, we also celebrate the pursuit of sustainable cities and fortify our commitment to the continued vitality of New York,” Mr. Rubinstein said. Mrs. Nooyi, introduced by New York University President and Academy Chair John Sexton, is the chief architect of PepsiCo’s multi-year growth strategy, Performance with Purpose, which is premised on offering a broad array of choices for healthy, convenient, and fun nourishment, reducing environmental impact, and fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace culture.

Jeffrey Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary General, introduced Dr. Pachauri, who accepted his award via video from India. Dr. Pachauri is a prominent researcher on environmental subjects, recognized internationally for his efforts to develop and disseminate greater knowledge about manmade climate change and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change. In addition to his role as chair of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. Pachauri is Director General of the Energy and Resources Institute, an independent research organization providing knowledge on energy, environment, forestry, biotechnology, and the conservation of natural resources. He is also the Director of the Yale Climate and Energy Institute.

Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists

Eight young researchers were also honored this evening as winners in the Academy’s third annual Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists competition. The awards, made possible by a generous grant from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, recognize highly innovative, impactful, and interdisciplinary accomplishments in the life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering made by faculty and postdoctoral researchers at institutions in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

All finalists receive unrestricted financial prizes, and faculty and postdoctoral awardees receive $25,000 and $15,000, respectively. Winners this year, chosen from an initial pool of 154 applicants, were recognized for high-caliber scientific research in astrophysics, chemical biology, environmental sciences, gene therapy, immunology, mathematical physics, neurobiology, and neuroscience. Postdoctoral fellow awardees are Sreekanth Chalasani (The Rockefeller University), Ofer Feinerman (Sloan-Kettering Institute), Eva Pastalkova (Rutgers University), and Alexander Pechen (Princeton University). Faculty awardees are Paul Chirik (Cornell University), Carmala Garzione (University of Rochester), Ben Oppenheimer (American Museum of Natural History), and Shai Shaham (The Rockefeller University). Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, presented the awards.

Science & the City Award

This evening the Academy also presented its annual Science & the City Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in New York City. The award went to Martin Chalfie, Chair of Biological Sciences at Columbia University and a winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Dr. Chalfie, who is a member of the Academy’s President’s Council, was introduced at the event by Lee Bollinger, President of Columbia University.

Chairs of the Sixth Annual Science & the City Gala were Len Blavatnik (Founder and Chairman, Access Industries), John E. Sexton (President, New York University, and Chair, The New York Academy of Sciences), and Omnicom Group Inc. Vice chairs of the Gala were Robert Catell (Chairman, Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center), Kenneth L. Davis (President & Chief Executive Officer, The Mount Sinai Medical Center), Mehmood Khan (Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, PepsiCo), Goldman, Sachs & Company, Pfizer Inc, and Simons Foundation. Major support was provided by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Gabrielle H. Reem, MD & Herbert J. Kayden, MD.

The New York Academy of Sciences., is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide since 1817. With 24,000 members in 140 countries, NYAS is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. NYAS' core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large.