The Kavli Foundation
Winter  2014
Dedicated to the advancement of science for the benefit of humanity, The Kavli Foundation supports scientific research, honors scientific achievement, and promotes public understanding of scientists and their work. For more information, visit:
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Kavli Prize logo big
2014 Laureates Receive Medals in Oslo
In September, the nine Kavli Prize winners from USA, Russia, Canada, Norway, Germany and United Kingdom received their prizes from Norway's King Harald during an award ceremony in Oslo. The ceremony is the signature event of Kavli Prize Week -- a celebration of science, as well as an opportunity for dialogues on significant research in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. Now available on the Kavli Prize site: videos of the ceremony and other key events during the week, including special laureate interviews. Visit site



U.S. Laureates Meet President Obama; Mildred Dresselhaus Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom  


At the White House this fall, President Barack Obama welcomed the four American Laureates of the 2014 Kavli Prizes: Alan H. Guth, Andrei D. Linde, John O'Keefe and Marcus E. Raichle. "This year's Kavli Laureates are working on the frontiers of human knowledge and capability, from the far reaches of deep space to the intricate neural networks of the mind," said John P. Holdren, President Obama's Science Advisor. "Achievements like these will no doubt inspire dreamers across the nation to ask bold questions and take on the challenge of discovering answers." Read more 


Later in the year, 2012 Kavli Prize Laureate in Nanoscience Mildred Dresselhaus was at the White House to receive the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States; to world peace; or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. Read more 

nobelNobel Prizes Awarded to KISN Directors May-Britt & Edward Moser; Kavli Prize Laureates Stefan Hell and John O'Keefe 


Two Kavli Institute directors and two Kavli Prize Laureates were among the recipients of this year's Nobel Prizes.


The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to 2014 Kavli Prize Laureate John O´Keefe, and to May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser, Directors of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. They received the prize for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain, with one half of the prize awarded to John O´Keefe, and the other half jointly to May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser. Stefan Hell, 2014 Kavli Prize Laureate in Nanoscience, was one of three equal recipients of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which was awarded  "for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy." Read more  

KITP to Build Residence for Visiting Scientists 
Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of the Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, has announced a $65 million gift to the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara

Charlie Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, has announced a $65,000,000 donation to the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The donation will be used to build and furnish a residence for the KITP's visiting scientists. Designed with physicists in mind, this 75,000 square foot facilty will house the majority of KITP's thousand yearly visitors and their families in a comfortable and intimate setting that inspires informal scientific interactions. Read more 

New Initiative 
Neurodata Without Borders 

A new initiative to produce a common language, or unified format, for neuroscience data has been launched by a handful of prominent neuroscience institutions, including The Allen Institute for Brain Science, the California Institute of Technology, the New York University School of Medicine, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of California, Berkeley. Named Neurodata Without Borders, it aims to begin to unlock neuroscience data by removing technical barriers.

Three of the researchers behind the initiative spoke to The Kavli Foundation about what a new era of open data could mean for neuroscience and how to get there: Christof Koch (The Allen Institute for Brain Science), Karel Svoboda (Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute) and Jeff Teeters (University of California, Berkeley). Read more



UC San Diego and Columbia University Establish New Neuroscience Centers


Columbia Establishes NeuroTechnology Center -
A Conversation with Rafael Yuste


In October, Columbia University announced establishing the NeuroTechnology Center (NTC), which brings together Columbia University's technical innovators from a broad spectrum of sciences to create new tools and technologies for brain research. In particular, it will focus on the development of optical, electrical and computational technologies. It will do this by funding interdisciplinary research projects, training a new generation of tool makers and connecting these tool makers with tool users. Read a conversation with Rafael Yuste, Director of the new center and Co-director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science, about the NTC's goals and the future of neurotechnology. Read more  


UCSD Creates Center for Brain Activity Mapping -
A Conversation with Ralph Greenspan


Early this year, UC San Diego established a new Center for Brain Activity Mapping. Under the aegis of the interdisciplinary Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind (KIBM), the new Center will tackle the technological and biological challenge of developing a new generation of tools to enable recording of neuronal activity throughout the brain. It will also conduct brain-mapping experiments and analyze the collected data.  Read a conversation with Ralph Greenspan, Director of the Center and Associate Director of KIBM. Read more  


More Feature Stories

It Takes the World to Map the Brain - Where is brain research heading globally? Leaders from the U.S. BRAIN Initiative, Europe's Human Brain Project and Japan's Brain/MINDS discuss their ambitious research efforts aimed at nothing less than transforming our understanding of the human brain. With Sean Hill (Brain Mind Institute, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne; International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility, Karolinska Institute), William T. Newsome (Stanford University; Stanford Neurosciences Institute), Hideyuki Okano (Keio University; RIKEN Brain Science Institute)

Evolution: What's Uniquely Human About the Human Brain? - How did our species evolve to become what it is today? What makes the human brain so unique? Three leading researchers on the genetics of the human brain share their thoughts on the progress and pitfalls of studying the human brain's evolution. With Daniel Geschwind (UCLA), James Noonan (Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, Yale University), James Sikela (University of Colorado School of Medicine)

The Conundrum of Craving - A U.N. commission recently announced a unanimous scientific consensus that addiction is a disease of the brain. Three neuroscientists discuss this consensus, as well as the biology of addiction. With Eric J. Nestler (Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai), Marina Picciotto (Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, Yale University), Nora D. Volkow (National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH)




The Hunt for Earth-like Planets in Other Solar Systems Heats Up 


According to everything we know about the universe, thousands of Earth-like, habitable planets should exist in other solar systems. With our ability to detect far-away planets getting better by the year, we're on the verge of being able to tell which of these "exoplanets" harbor liquid water - a necessity for life as we know it, and one of the main features that astronomers look for when hunting Earth-like planets. Zachory Berta-Thompson (MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, MIT), Bruce Macintosh (Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Stanford University), and Marie-Eve Naud (University of Montreal) discuss what we can learn about these planets from our vantage point tens of light years away, and how close we are to discovering other Earths. Read more  


More Feature Stories

Dark Matter at Long Last? Three New Experiments Ramp Up - Scientists have long known about dark matter, a mysterious substance that neither emits nor absorbs light. But despite decades of searching, they have not yet detected dark matter particles. With ten times the sensitivity of previous detectors, three recently funded dark matter experiments - the Axion Dark Matter eXperiment Gen 2, LUX-ZEPLIN and the Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search at SNOLAB - have scientists crossing their fingers that they may finally glimpse these long-sought particles. Enectali Figueroa-Feliciano (MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research), Harry Nelson (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Gray Rybka (University of Washington) discuss the next generation of dark matter experiments and the likelihood that these projects will at long last discover dark matter.

Science as an Incubator of Peace - In October Hitoshi Murayama, director of the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe at the University of Tokyo, gave a keynote address at a celebration organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). In an interview with The Kavli Foundation, Dr. Murayama reflected on the role of science in bridging nations, how IPMU can serve as a model for future international institutes, and a proposed science project that would take international collaboration to the next level.

Building the Universe Pixel by Pixel - Recently, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics unveiled an unprecedented simulation of the universe's development.  The goal -- to "view" the formation of galaxies and other large-scale structure we see around us today, to test our understanding of what makes up the universe - including dark matter and dark energy - as well as how those components interact. Why was this important? Ralf Kaehler (KIPAC at Stanford University and SLAC), Stuart Levy (National Center for Supercomputing Applications' Advanced Visualization Lab) and Dylan Nelson (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a member of the Illustris collaboration) discuss the ways their work benefits both science and the public's perception of science.




Layer by Layer: The Ascent of Nanoscience Two-Dimensional Materials 


Nanoscience is all about understanding and manipulating the world on atomic and molecular scales, and one way scientists are doing this is with sheets of materials that, incredibly, are no more than a single or a few atoms thick. Why do this? Three nanoscience researchers - Tony Heinz (Columbia University), David Muller (Co-director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science), and Joshua Goldberger (Ohio State University in Columbus) - discuss the emerging subfield in nanoscience and nanotechnology known as 2D Materials, as in Two-Dimensional Materials. Read more   


2014 Laureates Receive Medals in Oslo
Nobel Prizes to Kavli Directors, Prize Laureates
KITP to Build Residence for Visiting Scientists
Special Feature: Neurodata Without Borders
Neuroscience News
Astrophysics News
Nanoscience News
2014 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards Announced
Kavli Blog Site Launched
Community News
Winners of the 2014 AAAS  
Kavli Science Journalism Award Announced 

Stories exploring the complexities of human biology, including our interactions with the trillions of microbes we all harbor, the influences of our fishy evolutionary forebears on how we look, and the enduring challenge of understanding cancer, are among the winners of the 2014 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards.


The awards go to professional journalists for distinguished reporting for a general audience.The winning print, television, radio and online entries appeared in the The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Salt Lake City Weekly, Pacific Standard, KCTS 9/QUEST, PBS, NPR, Smithsonian magazine, KQED QUEST (San Francisco), WGBH/NOVA, The Seattle Times and American Public Media. The winning entry for children's science news appeared in Scholastic's Science World. Read more   

Welcome to Curious Stardust!  

The Kavli Foundation and Stony Brook University's Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science have launched a blog site dedicated to the frontiers of scientific research.

Featuring scientists from 11 Kavli Institutes across all fields and regions, the site is overseen by an editorial team that includes Andrew Revkin (The New York Times), Curtis Brainard (Scientific American) and Faye Flam (

The new site is off to a running start. A recent webcast on the site about the film Interstellar has so far drawn over 12,000 views on You Tube and received almost 25,000 views on the popular website Visit Curious Stardust

Community News


Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (KISN) May-Britt and Edvard Moser joined Kavli Prize Laureate John O'Keefe in receiving this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. (See story


Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe at the University of Tokyo (Kavli IPMU) Tsuyoshi Nakaya, a professor at the Kyoto University and an affiliate member of Kavli IPMU, received the 2014 Nishina Memorial Prize. ...

Yuji Tachikawa received the 29th Nishinomiya-Yukawa Memorial Prize. The prize recognizes young scientists (under the age of 40) with distinguished achievement in the field of theoretical physics.

Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara (KITP)   

KITP received a $65,000,000 donation from businessman and philanthropist Charlie Munger to build a state-of-the-art residency for visiting scientists. (See story)


Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University (KIBS)  Co-director Thomas M. Jessell was awarded the 2014 Neuroscience Prize from the Gruber Foundation. "Jessell is being honored with this prestigious international award for his seminal work on the development and wiring of spinal cord neurons involved in the control of movement." ... Richard Axel was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society. ... Larry Abbott was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. ... Michael Shadlen was elected to the Institute of Medicine in recognition for outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.  


Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford (KIPAC) Tom Abel, Acting Director of KIPAC, was one of five Stanford professors named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Abel was elected for the advances he made using supercomputers to explore the first billion years of cosmic history. 


Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago (KICP) Craig Hogan, member of the High-Z Supernova Search Team, was awarded the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. The 
prize recognizes major insights into the deepest questions of the Universe. ... Wayne Hu received the Horace B. Horton Professorship. ... KICP graduate student Vinicius Miranda was awarded the Schramm Fellowship.


California Institute of Technology
Hirosi Ooguri, the Fred Kavli Chair in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics, has won the 30th Kodansha Prize for Science Books. Established in 1985, it is the only major prize for science books in Japan.  


Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University, Beijing, China (KIAA)  KIAA Postdoctoral Fellows, Alberto Rebassa Mansergas and Haibo Yuan, have been awarded the 7th Postdoctoral Special Fund. This is the most prestigious and competitive fund offered by the China Postdoc Foundation. ... KIAA has initiated the Kavli Visiting Scholars program. The program supports astrophysicists across the Kavli network to spend two to four weeks in residence at KIAA, Peking University.


Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge (KICC)  Michele Trenti, Kavli Institute Fellow, was awarded a large allocation of Hubble Space Telescope time to carry out a search for the most distant galaxies that Hubble can see. Trenti's "Brightest of Reionizing Galaxies" Hubble survey will look for objects whose light started its journey toward Earth when the Universe was just about 500 Million years old. ... In September the European Southern Observatory (ESO) signed a contract with an international consortium, including KICC, to build MOONS, a unique new instrument for the Very Large Telescope located in Chile. 


Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science (KIC)  The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has selected nineteen Moore Experimental Investigators in Quantum Materials, including KIC member J.C. Seamus Davis

Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology at Harvard University (KIBST)  

L. Mahadevan was selected as a 2014-15 Radcliffe Fellow. ... Katia Bertoldi was named John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences.


The Kavli Foundation The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and The Kavli Foundation have announced the first FENS-Kavli Scholars. With the announcement, the Scholars become the first members of the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence. Launched this year, the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence aims to strengthen ties between emerging leaders in European science, establish links between the generation of emerging group leaders and senior scientists, and to foster on-going scientific excellence in Europe.