Giants in four fields honored at Tang Prize ceremony

The recipients of the 2016 Tang Prize were honored at an awards ceremony Sept. 25 at National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei City before an audience of more than 2,000 guests from home and abroad, including several of the 2014 laureates.

U.S. physicist Arthur H. Rosenfeld was recognized for sustainable development; French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier, U.S. geneticist Jennifer A. Doudna and Chinese-American biologist Feng Zhang shared the prize for biopharmaceutical science; Canadian jurist Louise Arbour, a former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, won for rule of law; and U.S. academic William Theodore de Bary of Columbia University was honored in the Sinology category.

Four of the laureates attended the ceremony, with 90-year-old Rosenfeld and 97-year-old de Bary opting to record addresses rather than travel to the event due to their ages. Ashok Gadgil, Rosenfeld's protege and a senior scientist at the Energy and Environmental Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, accepted the award on behalf of Rosenfeld, while de Bary's daughter Brett de Bary, a professor of modern Japanese literature at Cornell University, and his protege Rachel E. Chung, associate director of the Columbia University Committee on Asia and the Middle East, represented him at the ceremony.

Speaking at the event, James C. Liao, president of Academia Sinica, Taiwan's top research organization, praised this year's laureates as giants in their respective fields, stating their work will serve as a foundation for future leaders and scientists. Only by standing on the shoulders of giants can we continue to bring about innovative, insightful and influential research.

Established by Taiwan entrepreneur Samuel Yin in 2012, the prize takes its name from the Tang dynasty (618-907), a period considered the peak of ancient Chinese civilization characterized by robust international exchanges and cultural activities. The biennial award, hailed as Asia's Nobel Prize, was first conferred in 2014.

The winners in each of the four categories receive or share a cash prize of NT$40 million (US$1.24 million) as well as a research grant of up to NT$10 million. In addition to the awards ceremony, Tang Prize Week, running from Sept. 22 to 28, also features a series of forums to highlight the achievements of this year's laureates. (SCK-E)

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan)