A female faculty member smiles while seated behind a desk.

Danna Freedman named 2022 Blavatnik Award Finalist

Categories: Awards, Faculty

Blavatnik Scholars are recognized for their contributions to the advancement of the human condition through scientific progress.

The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences announced today that Danna Freedman, the F.G. Keyes Professor of Chemistry, is one of 31 finalists for the 2022 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, the world’s largest unrestricted prize honoring early-career scientists and engineers.

From this exceptional group, three winners—in life sciences, chemistry, and physical sciences & engineering—will be named on June 29, each receiving $250,000 as a Blavatnik National Awards Laureate.

The honorees were chosen from a highly competitive pool of 309 nominees from 150 leading universities and scientific institutions from 38 states across the United States.

“Since the Blavatnik National Awards were established nine years ago, many of our finalists have made extraordinary discoveries that have led to groundbreaking innovations in their respective fields,” said Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries and head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

Previous honorees have gone on to help develop COVID-19 vaccines and diagnostics, identify sustainable energy and battery technologies, tackle climate change through novel technologies, such as next-generation photovoltaics and sustainable new materials, and find cures for treatment-resistant diseases. Many also have received other prestigious honors, including being elected as fellows to the National Academy of Sciences or selected as MacArthur Foundation fellows.

“We are proud to honor their commitment to scientific excellence and celebrate their achievements. We look forward to following their continued success,” Blavatnik said.

The second quantum revolution brings the promise of incredibly powerful technological tools, with quantum computers and sensors customized to specific tasks. Freedman studies quantum bits—or qubits, the building blocks of quantum computers—based on specific properties of individual molecules. Using incredible chemical control, she tunes both the physical and electronic structure of the molecular-based qubit to improve qubit performance and capabilities. Freedman has elevated molecular qubits to the cutting edge of quantum information science by achieving record stability and demonstrating optical read-out of a molecular qubit state. Thanks to her momentous discoveries, molecular qubits will certainly be a major player in future quantum information technology.

President and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences Nicholas B. Dirks said: “There are many prizes for lifetime achievement in science, but there are only a few prizes that honor scientists at this critical crossroads in their careers. Why does this matter? It’s at this stage where support and recognition can make a tremendous difference, giving enormous visibility to their research.”

“On behalf of the academy, I also would like to thank our judges and our scientific advisory council—all eminent scientists from across the U.S. We couldn’t successfully administer these awards without their continued support and the engagement of the broader scientific community,” he said.

Three highly-respected independent juries—each representing one of the award categories—selected these finalists and will determine the winning Laureates. Laureates must be faculty-level scientific researchers, 42 years of age or younger, and nominated to the competition by their university or research institution.

About the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists

The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in 2007 and independently 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 first awarded in 2014 and expanded in 2017 to honor faculty-rank scientists in the UK and Israel. By the end of 2022, the Blavatnik Awards will have awarded prizes totaling $13.6 million. Visit blavatnikawards.org.