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The New York Academy of Sciences Hosts Science & the City 9th Annual Gala

The Academy brings together the scientific community to recognize novel initiatives to strengthen the STEM pipeline, as well as celebrate the innovative winners of the 2012 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists.

Published November 14, 2012

NEW YORK, November 12, 2012—This evening, the New York Academy of Sciences brought together more than 400 global leaders in science, education, government, industry, and academia, as well as a host of special guests—including middle school students, science teachers, and graduate student mentors—at its Science & the City 9th Annual Gala. The theme of the Gala, which took place at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City, was "Strengthening the STEM Pipeline: Mentoring the Innovators of Tomorrow."

A robust STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) pipeline that nurtures future scientists and engineers from "cradle to career" is vital to the nation's economy, as well as to the future job prospects of current students. The Academy has committed to strengthening the STEM pipeline through a series of ground-breaking initiatives that provide much-needed interventions at critical drop-out points along the STEM pipeline.

"The Academy's STEM-related programs focus on repairing the cracks and bolstering the weak areas in the existing STEM pipeline—from inspiring a first love of STEM subjects in school-age children, to providing opportunities for established scientists to network with peers across fields and organizations. These efforts are vital to creating the next generation of capable scientists who will be able to positively contribute to tackling the world's most pressing problems," said Academy President and CEO Ellis Rubinstein.

A special series of films was premiered, highlighting the Academy's programming in the areas of K-12 education, higher education, professional community building, and international collaboration ("science beyond the city").

On hand to introduce each programmatic area and provide remarks about the Academy's contributions and partnerships in these areas were the following distinguished guests:

  • Nancy L. Zimpher, Chancellor, The State University of New York; Board Chair, The New York Academy of Sciences;
  • Dennis M. Walcott, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education;
  • Barbara Murphy-Warrington, CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater New York;
  • Alice Gast, President, Lehigh University; Governor, The New York Academy of Sciences;
  • Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson; Member, Johnson & Johnson Executive Committee; Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson; Governor, The New York Academy of Sciences;
  • Laurie H. Glimcher, Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean, Weill Cornell Medical College Provost of Medical Affairs, Cornell University;
  • John Sexton, President, New York University; Governor, The New York Academy of Sciences; and
  • Dato' Sri Dr. Zakri Abdul Hamid, Science Advisor, Prime Minister's Office, Malaysia, and Professor Emeritus.

K-12 Education
The Academy's Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program in New York City and Newark, NJ, trains and places young scientists (who need critical teaching experience) in low-income middle schools (where the majority of students receive little to no hands-on STEM education). The mentors inspire the middle school students to take an interest, and gain confidence, in STEM subjects through engaging, hands-on activities that take place in community-based afterschool programs.

The Academy and the State University of New York (SUNY) recently received a prestigious $2.95 million grant from the National Science Foundation that will allow them to scale the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program throughout New York State. The Academy is also working with the Girl Scouts of the USA to scale the program to hundreds of Girl Scouts Councils nationwide, for which the Girl Scouts of Greater New York is currently serving as a pilot site.

The Academy also supports science teachers through its Pathways to Science programming, which connects teachers, provides helpful resources for teaching STEM subjects, and holds events on timely education-related topics.

Higher Education
The Academy, the U.S. State Department (represented at the Gala by the Deputy Science and Technology Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Frances Colón), and a consortium of 39 U.S. women's colleges are collaborating to empower women from countries with predominantly Muslim populations to pursue STEM fields at the undergraduate level through the NeXXt Scholars Initiative, which was launched in December 2011 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton via video address. The international scholars have been matched with American "STEM-sisters" at their respective colleges; all women receive mentorship from a STEM professional, Academy memberships, and ongoing program support.

The Academy's Science Alliance, a consortium of universities, teaching hospitals, independent research facilities, and organizations, connects more than 8,000 graduate and postdoctoral students to the Academy community. The Science Alliance helps scientists-in-training attain successful and rewarding careers by providing career development courses, as well as unparalleled networking opportunities through events with leaders in academia and industry.

Professional Community Building
The Academy creates unparalleled networking opportunities for scientists in a variety of fields and disciplines through Frontiers of Science, its core program for scientific conferences and symposia. Bringing together international experts and partners from academia, industry, government, and beyond, Frontiers of Science provides a neutral forum for participants to exchange information on basic and applied research and to discuss the broader role of science, medicine, and technology in society. In addition to organizing 12-14 international interdisciplinary conferences each year, Frontiers of Science also runs an extensive schedule of events organized around interdisciplinary discussion groups focused on current topics in the life sciences, physical sciences, and green science and sustainability, totaling approximately 80 meetings each year.

International Collaboration
The Academy's membership is global and so too is its outreach; it has a rich history of collaborating on pressing social and scientific challenges with countries like Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom, Qatar, and most recently, Malaysia. The Prime Minister of Malaysia has invested heavily in all stages of the STEM pipeline and is partnering with the Academy to create programs in Malaysia that will foster the next generation of global innovators. Dato' Sri Dr. Zakri Abdul Hamid, the Science Advisor to the Prime Minster, traveled from Malaysia to convey the Prime Minister's support for global partnerships, including an initiative led by the Academy, the State University of New York, and leading Malaysian education institutes to support the next generation of scientists from cradle to career.

The Blavatnik Awards for Young Sciences
Gala attendees celebrated11 promising young researchers who serve society with their work. "Their exceptional discoveries represent our future and our hope for a better world for all," said Academy Governor Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries and Head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, who congratulated this year's winners and finalists of The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists.

Established in 2007 by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, this awards program recognizes researchers who make innovative, impactful, and interdisciplinary advances in the life and physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The concept of the awards is unique in that it bridges more than 30 scientific disciplines from the natural sciences to engineering and math.

Out of approximately 170 high-caliber applications, 60 judges named four faculty members and five postdoctoral fellows as winners and two faculty members as finalists. All winners and finalists receive unrestricted cash prizes. 

The 2012 Faculty Winners are:


The 2012 Faculty Finalists are:

  • Michael Collins, Computer Science, Columbia University; and
  •  Wei Min, Physical Chemistry, Columbia University.


The 2012 Postdoctoral Winners are:


Nominations for the 2013 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists will be accepted from December 1, 2012 to January 31, 2013. To nominate a researcher or for more information about the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, visit or contact Awards Coordinator Marley Bauce at

The 2012 Gala was underwritten by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Jim & Marilyn Simons, with additional funding from a host of generous corporate and individual supporters.

About The Blavatnik Family Foundation
The Blavatnik Family Foundation is an active supporter of educational, scientific, cultural, and charitable institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and throughout the world. Recipients of Foundation support include, among others, Oxford University, Harvard University, Tel Aviv University, Tate, The Royal Opera House, The Hermitage, The National Portrait Gallery, The British Museum, The National Gallery of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Academy of Sciences, The White Nights Foundation, The Center for Jewish History and other Jewish causes as well as many other philanthropic institutions. The Foundation is headed by Len Blavatnik, an American industrialist. Mr. Blavatnik is the founder and Chairman of Access Industries, a privately-held U.S. industrial group with global interests in natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications, and real estate.

About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's 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. Please visit us online at