What a week! As this year’s Nobel Prize laureates could not travel to Stockholm to receive their medals due to the pandemic, the medals had to come to them. This meant two full days of Nobel Prize events, one on each side of the US.
On December 6, the Swedish Embassy in Washington hosted a scientific seminar featuring the three 2021 Nobel Prize laureates that reside in the eastern part of the country: Dr Syukuro Manabe (Physics), professor David MacMillan (Chemistry) and professor Joshua Angrist (Economic Sciences). The seminar entailed interviews with the individual laureates as well as a panel discussion on what it takes to pave the way for groundbreaking scientific discoveries. The panel featured the three laureates, dr Marcia McNutt, President of the National Academies of Science (NAS), and dr Anna Sjöström Douagi from the Nobel Foundation and also a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. I had the privilege to moderate the seminar, which was not an easy task given the three different scientific areas.
The Nobel Prize ceremony took place in the afternoon at NAS headquarters in Washington. In the evening, the Swedish Embassy hosted a gala dinner for the laureates and their families, and other distinguished members of the research community. The ceremony was opened with three speeches on the importance of science, one by NAS President Marcia McNutt, one by Dr Anna Sjöström Douagi and one by myself. Then, Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter acted on behalf of his majesty the king of Sweden and presented the laureates with their 175 grams gold medals and hand painted individualized diplomas. The ceremony was concluded by a reception hosted by NAS.
In the evening, the Swedish Embassy hosted a gala dinner at House of Sweden for the laureates and their families as well as other members of the scientific community and friends of Sweden. President Biden’s Science Advisor dr Eric Lander gave a speech honoring the laureates.
On Wednesday, December 8, the entire procedure was repeated in California, for the four Nobel prize laureates that resides there: professors David Julius and Arden Patapoutian, laureates in Physiology or Medicine, and professors David Card and Guido Imbens, laureates in Economic Sciences. The venue for the seminar and the Nobel Prize ceremony was the headquarters of the Californian Academy of Sciences in Irvine, the Beckman center, and the dinner was given at Pelican Hill Resort.
Reflections and acknowledgements
Moderating two seminars with in total seven Nobel Prize winners and giving speeches at two Nobel Prize ceremonies (that also were attended by several Nobel price winners from previous years) is a once in a life time-experience and took a lot of preparation. But seeing the pride and joy in the laureates’ eyes, when they were presented with their Nobel Prize medals, was immensely rewarding and certainly made it worthwhile.
Thank you, Marcia McNutt and Anna Sjöström Douagi for your outstanding professionalism and great cooperation in delivering the Nobel Prize festivities in the US!