The Inamori Foundation announced on June 18th that the winners of the 36th Kyoto Prize (2021) had been selected. The winner in the "Advanced Technology" category was Andrew Chi-Chih Yao (Yao Qizhi) (Dean of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences, Tsinghua University); in the "Basic Sciences" category, Robert G. Roeder (Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Rockefeller University) was selected; and in the "Arts and Philosophy" category, the winner was Bruno Latour (Professor Emeritus of the Paris Institute of Political Studies). The winners received a diploma, a medal, and a ¥100 million prize.
Yao was awarded the prize for his "Pioneering Contributions to a New Theory of Computation and Communication and a Fundamental Theory for Security." Yao has constructed innovative theoretical models for computation and communication, creating revolutionary trends in modern computational theory from a communications perspective. His achievements make broad contributions from basic informatics to solving real problems in modern society, contributing significantly to many areas including security, privacy, parallel computing, big data processing, and quantum computing.
Roeder was awarded the prize for his "Discovery of the Principle of Gene Transcription Mechanisms in Eukaryotes." Roeder clarified the principle of eukaryotic gene expression regulation by identifying the first example of a set of basic factors involved in the initiation of DNA-to-RNA transcription in animal cells and specific elements that link those factors to the transcription of specific genes. He discovered the existence and functions of RNA polymerases, general transcription factors, and specific transcriptional activators as well as chromatin transcriptional regulation. His research over more than 50 years has constructed a foundation for modern life science research.
Latour was awarded the prize for "Radically Re-examining 'Modernity' by Developing a Philosophy that Focuses on Interactions Between Technoscience and Social Structure." Treating nature, humanity, laboratory equipment, and other entities as equal actors, Latour breathed new life into our view of science by describing technoscience as a hybrid network of the above actors. He also developed a philosophy that reexamines "modernity" as based on the dualism of nature and society. In recent years, his ideas for overcoming global warming have also attracted attention.
The award was established as an international prize to honor those who have made remarkable contributions to the development of science and civilization as well as to the spiritual deepening and uplifting of mankind. This year, no award ceremony or related events will be conducted in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The memorial lecture will be streamed online. Planned events overseas include a symposium in San Diego, California, USA (March 29-31, 2022), and an event in Oxford, UK (May 10-11, 2022).
This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd.(https://sci-news.co.jp/). Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.