Three Women Honored With 2024 Kavli Prizes in Astrophysics and Neuroscience

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has awarded their 2024 Kavli Prizes to eight scholars for their outstanding research contributions in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience. Three of the eight awardees are women.

Sara Seagar was honored with a Kavli Prize in Astrophysics for her research into the discovery of exoplanets and the characterization of their atmospheres. Her work pioneered the theoretical study of planetary atmospheres and predicated the presence of atomic and molecular species detectable by transit spectroscopy.

Dr. Seager currently serves as the Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she has taught for the past 24 years. She holds appointments in the department of physics and the department of aeronautics and astronautics, with affiliations at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics & Space Research and the department of earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences. Her research has led to over 200 scholarly papers and numerous prestigious awards, including a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. Additionally, her expertise led her to authoring multiple books including The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir (Crown, 2020) and Exoplanet Atmospheres: Physical Processes (Princeton University Press, 2010).

Dr. Seagar is a graduate of the University of Toronto, where she double-majored in mathematics and physics. She earned her Ph.D. from the department of astronomy at Harvard University.

Nancy Kanwisher was awarded a Kavli Prize in Neuroscience for being first scientist to prove a specific area in the human neocortex is dedicated to recognizing faces, which has since been named the fusiform face area. Her discovery has paved the way for future research on the relationship between visual information processing and cognitive functions.

A member of the MIT faculty for nearly three decades, Dr. Kanwisher currently serves as the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Brain & Cognitive Sciences. She also serves as the primary investigator for the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Before her career with MIT, she served as a MacArthur Fellow in Peace and International Security, and held teaching appointments with the University of California, Los Angeles and Harvard University.

Dr. Kanwisher received her bachelor’s degree in biology and Ph.D. in brain and cognitive sciences from MIT.

Doris Ying Tsao was awarded a Kavli Prize in Neuroscience for building on Dr. Kanwisher’s discovery of the fusiform face area through mapping six distinct brain regions, known as the face patch system. Her research identified how the face patches work together to identify a face through specific cellular coding.

Dr. Tsao is currently a professor in the neurobiology division of the department of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds an appointment in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and serves as the primary investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley in 2021, she served as a professor at the California Institute of Technology for over a decade. Her academic contributions earned her a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2018.

Dr. Taso is a graduate of Caltech, where she double-majored in biology and mathematics. She holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University.

Filed Under: AwardsSTEM Fields


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