8 January, 2021
Launched in 2008 by the BBVA Foundation, the awards distinguish high-impact scientific and cultural contributions on a global scale. Their goal is to celebrate and promote the value of knowledge as a public good without frontiers, the best instrument at our command to take on the great global challenges of our time for the benefit of all humanity. The work of the international committees, formed by leading experts who arrive at their decisions independently, applying the indicators and metrics of excellence proper to each area, has cemented the prestige of a family of awards that attracts nominations from the world’s foremost academic and research institutions.
Fifteen of the 136 laureates in editions to date of the Frontiers of Knowledge Awards have gone on to win the Nobel Prize. In 2020, the Nobel Prize in Economics went to Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson, winners of the Frontiers Award in Economics, Finance and Management in 2013 and 2016 respectively. The same year’s Chemistry Nobel went to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, distinguished with the Frontiers Award in Biology and Biomedicine in 2017. Previously, Shinya Yamanaka and James P. Allison, both Frontiers awardees in Biomedicine, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2012 and 2018 respectively, while Robert J. Lefkowitz, awardee in the same Frontiers category in 2009, received the Chemistry Nobel in 2012. In Economics, Finance and Management, the list of Frontiers laureates – besides Milgrom and Wilson – subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize comprises Lars Peter Hansen in 2013, Jean Tirole in 2014, and Angus Deaton in 2015, joined more recently by 2018 laureate William Nordhaus, winner of the Frontiers Award in Climate Change earlier that year, and 2019 laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, founders and directors of the Poverty Action Lab at MIT distinguished with the Frontiers Award for Development Cooperation in 2008.
The BBVA Foundation is partnered in the awards by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the country’s premier public research organization.
In this edition, the award in Humanities and Social Sciences, which alternates annually between the two domains, will be given in the Humanities.
Each committee’s deliberations will take place electronically due to the extraordinary circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Calendar of award announcements
|Climate Change||Wednesday, 13 January, 2021|
|Biology and Biomedicine||Wednesday, 27 January, 2021|
|Ecology and Conservation Biology||Wednesday, 3 February, 2021|
|Information and Communication Technologies (ITC)||Wednesday, 10 February, 2021|
|Basic Sciences||Wednesday, 24 February, 2021|
|Economics, Finance and Management||Thursday, 4 March, 2021|
|Music and Opera||Wednesday, 10 March, 2021|
|Humanities and Social Sciences||Wednesday, 17 March, 2021|
Laureates in the 12th edition
The awards in the 12th edition went to physicist Charles Bennett, computer scientist Gilles Brassard and mathematician Peter Shor, in Basic Sciences, for their outstanding contributions to the field of quantum computation and communication; Michael Hall and David Sabatini, in Biology and Biomedicine, for discovering the molecular mechanism that is the major regulator of growth in animal cells, and plays a central role in physiology, metabolism, aging and cancer; Isabelle Guyon, Bernhard Schölkopf and Vladimir Vapnik, in Information and Communication Technologies, for their fundamental contributions to machine learning; Kerry Emanuel, in Climate Change, for his contributions to understanding of hurricane physics and how they are affected by climate change; Carlos Duarte, Terence Hughes and Daniel Pauly, in Ecology and Conservation Biology, for their seminal contributions to our understanding of the world’s oceans, and their efforts to protect and conserve marine biodiversity and oceanic ecosystem services; Philippe Aghion and Peter Howitt, in Economics, for their fundamental contributions to the study of innovation, technical change, and competition policy; Susan Fiske and Shelley Taylor, in Humanities and Social Sciences, for their seminal contributions to the field of social cognition, which examines the cognitive processes individuals use to understand other people and themselves; and Arvo Pärt, in Music and Opera, for creating a unique sound world, a new approach to spiritual, especially choral music, that distills the sound material to its essence.