Five Women Scholars Awarded the Wolf Prize

The Wolf Prize is awarded by the Wolf Foundation of Israel to outstanding scientists and artists from around the world, (regardless of nationality, race, color, religion, sex, or political views) for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations amongst peoples.

First awarded in 1978, the Wolf Prize is awarded in the scientific fields of medicine, agriculture, mathematics, chemistry, and physics, as well as the art categories of painting and sculpting, music, and architecture. The prizes, which are conferred at a ceremony in the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) in Jerusalem, include a monetary award of $100,000.

This year, 11 scholars received a Wolf Prize. Five of these scholars are women and all have university affiliations. Four of the five teach at universities in the United States. Some scholars share a prize in a particular category.

(L to R) Pamela Ronald, Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Bonnie Bassler, Anne L’Huillier, and Elizabeth Diller

Pamela Ronald, a distinguished professor in the department of plant pathology and the Genome Center at the University of California, Davis is the winner of the Wolf Prize in Agriculture. Dr. Ronald’s lab studies genes that control resistance to disease and tolerance of environmental stress with the goal of improving food security for the world’s poorest farmers. Professor Ronald joined the faculty at the University of California, Davis in 1992. She is a graduate of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she majored in biology. Dr. Ronald holds a master’s degree in biology from Stanford University, a master’s degree in physiological botany from Uppsala University in Sweden, and a Ph.D. in molecular and physiological plant biology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Carolyn R. Bertozzi is a winner of the Wolf Prize in Chemistry. Dr. Bertozzi’s research has focused on profiling changes in cell surface glycosylation. She invented the field of biorthogonal chemistry, which allows researchers to chemically modify molecules within living systems without interfering with native biochemical processes. Dr. Bertozzi received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Harvard University in 1988 and her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993. She joined the Berkeley faculty in 1996 and has taught at Stanford University since 2015.

Bonnie Bassler, the Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology and chair of the department of molecular biology at Princeton University in New Jersey, is also a winner in the chemistry category. Dr. Bassler’s research focuses on how bacteria talk to each other and orchestrate collective behaviors. This process, called quorum sensing, relies on the production, detection, and response to extracellular signal molecules. Dr. Bassler is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine. She is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, where she majored in biochemistry and holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Anne L’Huillier, a professor of atomic physics at Lund University in Sweden is sharing the Wolf Prize in Physics. Dr. L’Huillier was awarded a double master’s degree in theoretical physics and mathematics and later switched to experimental physics to complete a Ph.D. in 1986, at the University of Paris. She was honored for her work in the fields of ultrafast laser science and attosecond physics and for demonstrating time-resolved imaging of electron motion in atoms, molecules, and solids.

Elizabeth Diller won the Wolf Prize in Architecture. She is a Polish-born American architect and professor of architectural design at Princeton University. Her architectural practice specializes in buildings for cultural institutions. Professor Diller began her studies at Cooper Union in New York, with the interest of becoming a filmmaker but eventually was drawn to study architecture. Many key works of her studio have involved designing public spaces with an emphasis on scenographies that migrate from performing and visual arts spaces to the urban landscape. She is a 1999 winner of a Genius Award from the MacArthur Foundation.

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