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Trinity Fellows awarded Breakthrough Prizes

Two Trinity Fellows and a former Fellow have been awarded prestigious Breakthrough and New Horizon Prizes for Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences and Mathematics.

Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian. Photo: Nathan Pitt, University of Cambridge

Trinity Fellow, Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian shared a 2022 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences with Christ’s Fellow Professor David Klenerman and Pascal Mayer, from the company Alphanosos, ‘for the development of a robust and affordable method to determine DNA sequences on a massive scale, which has transformed the practice of science and medicine.’

In May 2021 Sir Shankar and Professor Klenerman received the Millennium Technology Prize for their work on Next Generation Sequencing, which has become the dominant method worldwide.

Sir Shankar said:

I’m delighted that the award has been given for next generation sequencing technology.  It is an honour to share the award. The Cambridge part of this story came out of a collaboration with David Klenerman.  The recognition is a reflection of work initially carried out by our co-workers Colin Barnes and Mark Osbourne in the University and then by a fabulous team at Solexa, a biotech company we founded to develop the technology into a product.

Trinity Fellow, Professor Jack Thorne, of the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics, received a 2022 New Horizons Mathematics Prize ‘for transformative contributions to diverse areas of algebraic number theory, and in particular for the proof, in collaboration with James Newton, of the automorphy of all symmetric powers of a holomorphic modular newform.’ Professor Thorne said:

I am deeply honoured to receive the New Horizons Prize for my contributions to number theory. I am also grateful to my co-author James Newton (former Trinity Junior Research Fellow) for our wonderful collaboration. Mathematics cannot exist in isolation and my own field has seen amazing progress in the last few years thanks to the sharing of new ideas and perspectives.

Cavendish Laboratory Professor Suchitra Sebastian, who was a Fellow of Trinity, 2005-2009, was awarded a 2022 New Horizons Physics Prize ‘for high precision electronic and magnetic measurements that have profoundly changed our understanding of high temperature superconductors and unconventional insulators.’ Professor Sebastian said being awarded the prize was ‘incredibly encouraging, uplifting and joyous.’

It recognises a discovery made by our team of electrons doing what they’re not supposed to do. It’s gone from the moment of elation and disbelief at the discovery, and then trying to follow it through, when no one else quite thinks it’s possible or that it could be happening. It’s been an incredible journey, and having it recognised in this way is incredibly rewarding.

The Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics (one per year) and Mathematics (one per year) were founded by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Anne Wojcicki. Each prize is worth $3 million, shared between the winners. New Horizons Prizes in Mathematics and Physics (up to six in total a year) are awarded to early career researchers. Each prize is worth $100,000.

Read more about the 2022 Breakthrough and New Horizons Prizes and the Cambridge prize winners.

Read more about Professor Sir Shankar’s research.

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