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Feb. 08, 2022

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The Blavatnik Family Foundation, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities announced today the Laureates of the 2022 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel. This year's Laureates will each receive US$100,000. For the first time, a scientist from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev was one of the prize's laureates. 

Prof. Menny Shalom (pictured below) of the Department of Chemistry was recognized for the development of new types of advanced materials for alternative energy sources. These low-cost materials are stable under harsh conditions and can be utilized in the development of solar cells, batteries, and fuel cells.

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There are a variety of ways to approach the problem of renewable and sustainable energy production. Major advances in materials synthesis and manufacturing techniques, as well as the sheer need for more energy worldwide, have brought about a rapid increase in the study of solar energy conversion into fuel, through the development of materials that are capable of capturing, storing, and releasing energy from sunlight. Prof. Shalom approaches this difficult problem through the rational design of novel, inexpensive, easily synthesized, and chemically stable materials that contain only the elements carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and boron.  Materials developed by Shalom have found uses in a variety of applications including photoelectrochemical water splitting to hydrogen and oxygen, batteries, and photocatalysts—tiny particles that speed up chemical reactions when exposed to light. Through careful analysis of the mechanisms by which these materials are made and their resulting behavior, this work will have a significant impact on renewable and sustainable energy production. 

“I am grateful to the Blavatnik Family Foundation for this honor," says Prof. Shalom, “I want to thank all my former and current group members and my mentors for walking with me along this exciting scientific road. I have learned a lot from each one of them." 

The Blavatnik Awards recognize exceptional scientists at the early stages of their careers for their achievements and their demonstrated potential for future discoveries. The prizes are awarded to researchers aged 42 and younger for groundbreaking work in the disciplines of Life Sciences, Chemistry, and Physical Sciences & Engineering. The Blavatnik Awards in Israel parallel their international counterparts, the Blavatnik National Awards and Blavatnik Regional Awards in the United States, and the Blavatnik Awards in the United Kingdom. 

Additional 2022 Israeli laureates included Weizmann Institute of Science Profs. Noam Stern-Ginnosar and Ronen Eldan. 

The 2022 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel will be conferred at a ceremony held at the Peres Center for Peace & Innovation in Tel Aviv-Jaffa on June 8, 2022. The Laureates will join a cadre of young scientists from across Israel who have been honored by the Blavatnik Awards in Israel since the launch of the Awards in 2017. In addition, the Laureates will become part of the international Blavatnik Science Scholars community, which, by the close of 2022, will total over 400 young scientists from around the world. Each summer the Laureates are invited to attend the annual Blavatnik Science Symposium in New York City hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences, where past and present Blavatnik Awards honorees from around the world come together to share new ideas and forge collaborations for novel, cross-disciplinary research. 

"Israel's remarkable science is led by brilliant young men and women who push boundaries with discoveries that improve lives and expand knowledge," said Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries and Head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation.  “We honor these three outstanding, innovative scientists for their significant contributions and look forward to their future work and discoveries in the years to come." 

Nicholas B. Dirks, President and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences, said, “Israel has a long history of investing in academic science. As a result, Israel is now a thriving global center of scientific research and technological innovation. We are proud to administer the Blavatnik Awards in its fifth year in Israel with our partner, the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and to recognize this year's exceptional young Blavatnik Awards in Israel Laureates, including the first Laureate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev." 

Professor David Harel, President of The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, said, “In this challenging pandemic period, we take pride in continuing our collaboration with the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences to maintain the tradition of bestowing these distinguished awards upon outstanding Israeli scientists. We are confident that the present massive investment will yield significant benefits for the international scientific community and will inspire future generations of scientists to follow in the footsteps of this year's Laureates, by leading humanity to further magnificent breakthroughs." 

During the nomination period for the 2022 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel, 37 nominations were received from seven universities across the country. Members of the Awards' Scientific Advisory Council, which includes Nobel Laureates, Professors Aaron Ciechanover, David Gross and Professor Sir Richard Roberts, along with Chairman of the Israel Space Agency and Chairman of the National Council for R&D for the Ministry of Science and Technology of Israel, Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, were also invited to submit nominations. Three distinguished juries composed of leading scientists representing the three disciplinary categories and led by Israel Academy members selected the 2022 Laureates.​

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