Dauenhauer named a finalist for the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists

June 16, 2021 - Professor Paul Dauenhauer is among 31 finalists for the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, the world’s largest unrestricted prize honoring early-career scientists and engineers. Three winners – in life sciences, chemistry, and physical sciences and engineering – will be announced on July 20, each receiving $250,000 as a Blavatnik National Awards Laureate.

The finalists, culled from 298 nominations by 157 United States research institutions across 38 states, have made trailblazing discoveries in wide-ranging fields, from the neuroscience of addiction to the development of gene-editing technologies, from designing next-generation battery storage to understanding the origins of photosynthesis, from making improvements in computer vision to pioneering new frontiers in polymer chemistry.

Dauenhauer is pioneering ways to synthesize consumer chemicals from sustainable raw materials. Today, many commonplace materials like cleaning supplies or plastics are made from fossil fuels. Dauenhauer is seeking to replace fossil fuels with glucose, a simple sugar from plants. Through this transformative line of research, Dauenhauer has achieved high-yield production of detergents, plastics, and synthetic rubber from glucose, all performing as well as conventionally sourced products. Beyond his green synthesis methods, Dauenhauer is also forging new paths in energy storage, developing a foundational catalyst theory to store energy in the form of ammonia.

Three highly respected independent juries – each representing one of the awards' categories – will determine the winning Laureates, who must be faculty-level scientific researchers and engineers 42 years of age or younger. The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists will celebrate the 2021 Blavatnik National Awards honorees in a ceremony on Sept. 28 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in the U.S. in 2007 and independently administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, began by identifying outstanding regional scientific talent in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The Blavatnik National Awards were first awarded in 2014 and, in 2017, the Awards were expanded to honor faculty-rank scientists in the United Kingdom and in Israel. By the close of 2021, the Blavatnik Awards will have awarded prizes totaling $11.9 million. Sixty-one percent of all Award recipients are immigrants to the country in which they were recognized and hail from 47 countries across six continents, reflecting the Blavatnik Family Foundation’s recognition that important science is a global enterprise.