Bay Area UC Researchers Dominate National Awards for Young Scientists

All three winners of the prestigious 2015 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists announced today were University of California professors, including two from the Bay Area.

The awards, which are administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, recognize the nation’s most exceptional emerging scientists and engineers who are making significant advances in chemistry, life sciences, or physical sciences.

Each award winner is the recipient of $250,000 commemorating their research and for showing outstanding promise early in their careers.

Christopher J. Chang, UC Berkeley professor of chemistry and molecular and cell biology, won the chemistry award for his energy research and his work in the emerging field of metalloneurochemistry, the study of how metal ions affect the brain and nervous system.

Edward F. Chang, UC San Francisco neurological surgery and physiology associate professor and co-director of the Center for Neural Engineering & Prostheses at UC Berkeley and UCSF, won the life sciences award for his research on the brain mechanisms of language processing.

The physical sciences and engineering award went to Syed Jafar of UC Irvine. This is the first time that all three winners of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists have represented one university system, according to UC officials.

The trio was chosen from among 300 nominations submitted by the country’s top universities and research institutions, and judged by Nobel Laureates, National Medal of Science recipients, and National Academy of Sciences members.

“To have the University of California sweep the Blavatnik awards with three of our best young scientists is evidence of the continuing research excellence of our public university system,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire UC community, we couldn’t be more delighted.”

Rachel Matsuoka, Bay City News

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