By Paul Dabbar, Under Secretary for Science
It is my honor to announce that three individuals who exemplify the best of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) public and private partnership – Dr. Robert Wilson, Dr. Jennifer Doudna, and Dr. Andrea Ghez – have been awarded 2020 Nobel Prizes and Laureates in their respective fields of Economic Sciences, Chemistry, and Physics.
At DOE, we often discuss the importance of our partners in academia who help foster innovation through exceptional scientific discovery. The recognition of their work from The Norwegian Nobel Committee shows that a robust national energy strategy which fuses together the government, university, and private sector, alongside remarkable individuals, benefits our nation and transforms the world.
Without further ado, here are the 2020 Nobel Prize Winners and Laureates that I’d like to highlight today.
Dr. Jennifer Doudna, 2020 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
Dr. Doudna is the Faculty Scientist at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL); Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley; and a Principal Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
In 2008, Dr. Doudna's nascent research on CRISPR—for which she shares the Nobel Prize with Emmanuelle Charpentier—was funded by a DOE Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program through her LBNL affiliation. Through the LDRD program, DOE national laboratories provide support out of their overhead funding as seed money for promising new research.
Over the years, Dr. Doudna has made extensive use in her research of DOE Office of Science x-ray light sources, including the Advanced Light Source at LBNL, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC, and the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
DOE is proud to have played a role in the early support of Dr. Doudna’s Nobel Prize-winning research, as well as continued support of her work over the past decade, and we are delighted today to welcome her as the latest in a long line of distinguished DOE Nobel Laureates.
Dr. Robert Wilson, co-recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences
Dr. Wilson is applying his prizewinning work in improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats to a DOE-funded project.
He is a critical member of a project team in ARPA-E’s Performance-based Energy Resource Feedback, Optimization, and Risk Management (PERFORM) program focused on risk-aware power grid management.
Through ARPA-E’s PERFORM program, Dr. Wilson and his teammates will extend a variation of the Nobel-winning auction theory modeling to develop and demonstrate a novel, state-of-the-art, stochastic two-stage auction redesign for co-optimized wholesale real-time energy and reserve markets. This will be coupled with intelligent energy-portfolio risk management tools that enable flexible demand assets (such as air conditioners, water heaters, energy storage, etc.) to offer their flexibility into these markets as demand reserves.
The potential benefits include improved reliability and security in grid management, enhanced price formation, increased consumer choice of differentiated reliability options, and social welfare gains.
Dr. Andrea Ghez, Nobel Prize in Physics
The DOE-funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s work with lasers being used as guide stars to implement adaptive optics allows telescopes to generate clearer images. The prototype system was deployed to the University of California’s KECK telescope where Dr. Ghez had observing time, which contributed to her work in physics.
We are proud that the American people played a helping hand in their endeavors through DOE-taxpayer funded facilities and R&D programs. With these prizes, DOE has now been a part of 118 Nobel awards. We will continue to support our nation’s top minds through our National Labs and R&D funding.