Nobel Laureate 2021 | Women scientists with the Nobel Prize

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  • The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the winners of the 2021 Nobel Prizes this week.
  • Nobel Prize Winner in Physiology or Medicine; Physics; and chemistry are concerned with a wide variety of topics, including modeling our rapidly changing climate, how our bodies respond to stimuli such as pain and temperature, and building more efficient chemical building blocks.
  • This year’s Nobel Prize losers? Women.

    This week the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the cohort of Nobel Prize winners in Physiology or Medicine 2021; Physics; Chemistry; Literature; and peace.

    🤯 You love overwhelming science. We also. Let’s explore it together.

    Science category winners include climate modelers, chemists, and a molecular neurobiologist – all of whom have worked diligently to solve some of the most complex problems on our planet. But none of these winners are women.

    There is room to be disappointed with this lack of diversity at the same time, and to celebrate the achievements of the winners. So here are this year’s winners.

    💉 Physiology or Medicine

    The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the molecular neurobiologist Ardem Patapoutian of Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, and the physiologist David Julius of the University of California, San Francisco, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries of receptors for temperature” and touch. “

    Patapoutian’s work at Scripps Research revealed a new type of receptor in the skin and internal organs that responds to mechanical stimulation. Julius – thanks in part to his use of capsaicin, the chemical compound found in chili peppers – discovered receptors that respond to painful stimuli such as heat.

    “The hope is that by identifying more molecular targets and understanding how they contribute to pain, we can take a mechanistic, rational approach to developing drugs for those goals,” said Julius Popular mechanics after winning the 2020 Breakthrough Prize.

    🔭 physics

    Syukuro Manabe, meteorologist and climatologist at Princeton University; Giorgio Parisi, theoretical physicist at Sapienza University in Rome, Italy; and climate modeler Klaus Hasselmann from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, received the Nobel Prize in Physics 2021 “for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex systems,” announced the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Tuesday.

    “The discoveries recognized this year show that our knowledge of climate rests on a solid scientific foundation, based on a thorough analysis of observations,” said Thors Hans Hansson, chairman of the Nobel Committee on Physics, in the announcement.

    Over the course of his career, Manabe developed climate models that linked rising carbon dioxide levels to the climate and showed how closely our atmosphere and our oceans are really intertwined. Hasselmann built on this research and developed a model that decisively linked short-term weather events – such as heat waves and rainfalls – with long-term changes in oceanic and atmospheric currents.

    Instead, Parisi focuses on the big picture, examining how chaos permeates and affects systems both large and small – work that was particularly helpful in understanding the uncertain future of our climate.

    ⚗️chemistry

    On Wednesday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021 to two scientists – Benjamin List from the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany, and David MacMillan from Princeton University – for “development”. asymmetric organocatalysis. “

    The chemical tool that List and MacMillan independently developed has streamlined the drug manufacturing process and enabled researchers to develop new types of catalysts – traditionally made from polluting metals or unwieldy enzymes – more efficiently and economically.

    💸 economy

    See you again on Monday morning when the price is announced.

    👩🏽‍🔬 Maybe next year?

    Noticeably absent from this year’s list of winners in the science categories? Women.

    Unfortunately, it’s not surprising that women have been left out of the running. The Nobel Prize Committee doesn’t have a great track record of selecting women: of the total of 962 Nobel Prizes awarded, only 57 went to women.

    By the time Donna Strickland received the Nobel Prize in Physics together with Arthur Ashkin and Gérard Mourou in 2018, 55 years had passed since a woman had taken the coveted award home with her. (Maria Goeppert Mayer won in 1963 and Marie Curie won 60 years earlier, in 1903.) And in the chemistry category, there was a sizable gap – try at 45 – between Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin’s 1964 win and Ada E. Yonath’s 2009 win.

    Only one woman of color – the Chinese pharmaceutical chemist Tu Youyou, who received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015 for her work on developing a malaria treatment – was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry or Medicine.

    Not a single black scientist – male or female – has ever won the main prize in these categories.

    The victories of Donna Strickland and Frances H. Arnold in physics and chemistry in 2018, as well as the victories of CRISPR pioneers Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier in 2020 and astrophysicist Andrea Ghez seemed to signal that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was finally starting could seriously acknowledge the contributions of the many, many women who have shaped their respective fields.

    But unfortunately, 2021 feels like a step backwards.


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