May 31, 2018
Blavatnik medal
Professors Xiangfeng Duan and Neil Garg have been named two of 31 National Finalists for the 2018 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.
 
Chosen from a pool of 286 nominated promising scientific researchers aged 42 years and younger from America’s top academic and research institutions, Duan is one of 11 Physical Sciences & Engineering finalists and Garg is one of ten Chemistry finalists. The finalists were selected based on their extraordinary accomplishments and their promise for the future. 
 
The Blavatnik National Awards, first awarded in 2014, were established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, recognize and support America’s top scientific innovators in the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, and chemistry. The finalists will compete for the three spots as the 2018 Blavatnik National Laureates, an honor that comes with an unrestricted cash prize of $250,000, the largest prize of its kind for early career scientists. The awards will be announced on June 27, 2018 and the laureates will be honored at the Blavatnik National Awards on September 24, 2018, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
 
Duan was a National Finalist for the award in 2015. The only other UCLA faculty member to be a National Finalist for the award is Professor Aydogan Ozcan (Department of Electrical Engineering) in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
 
Excerpt from the award announcement:
 
 
THE 2018 BLAVATNIK NATIONAL AWARDS FINALISTS: A YEAR OF SCIENTIFIC POSSIBILITIES
 
Xiangfeng Duan (University of California, Los Angeles) – As an inorganic materials chemist, Dr. Duan focuses on the design and synthesis of highly complex nanostructures with controlled chemical composition, structural morphology and physical dimensions. He places particular emphasis on the integration of nanoscale structures with different chemical composition, structure or function, thereby creating a new generation of integrated nanosystems with unprecedented performance or unique functions to break the boundaries of traditional technologies.
 
Neil Garg (University of California, Los Angeles) – Dr. Garg is a synthetic organic chemist who is a world leader in the synthesis of complex molecules. Some of his creative work involves the development of reactions involving cyclic alkynes, which are a chemical species traditionally considered too reactive to be useful. His reactions are now employed by the pharmaceutical industry to synthesize new drug candidates. Dr. Garg is considered an innovator in chemical education and has made significant contributions to the field of catalysis — developing new reactions that allow chemists to break bonds that were once considered unbreakable. [Garg recently received Baylor University’s Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching.]
 
“We created the Blavatnik Awards to identify the brightest young minds in science early in their scientific careers,” said Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation and member of the President’s Council of the New York Academy of Sciences. “These 31 Finalists, through their creative, cutting-edge research, have demonstrated great promise for future discoveries of enormous scientific importance.”
 
“The 31 National Finalists in the U.S. join the Blavatnik Awards community of scholars — a decade’s worth of Finalists and Laureates who are leading scientific research into the next century,” said Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences and Chair of the Awards’ Scientific Advisory Council. “With continued support and recognition from the Blavatnik Awards, our goal is to launch these pioneering young scientists onto an even higher trajectory of scientific pursuit, giving them a visible platform to attract new collaborators, future grants, investors, and other key resources.”
 
The Blavatnik Awards, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in the United States in 2007, and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, began by identifying outstanding scientific talent in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The Blavatnik National Awards were inaugurated in 2014 and, in 2018, the Awards were expanded to include young scientists in the United Kingdom and Israel.