For cosmologist Viatcheslav Mukhanov, co-winner with Stephen Hawking of the 2015 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences, imagining the origins of the universe is among life’s great pleasures: “one always enjoys understanding deep things about the world, no less than one enjoys good music or painting.” The Russian scientist was the first to postulate that the galaxies, stars and planets, in short all the aggregations of matter that we see around us, had their origin in a microscopic process in the newborn universe, a series of quantum fluctuations generated soon after the Big Bang. Mukhanov will talk the public through his hypothesis, and its subsequent confirmation, on Tuesday, March 14 at a lecture in the BBVA Foundation, “From Nothing to the Universe.”
The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Development Cooperation category goes, in this ninth edition, to researchers Pedro Alonso and Peter Myler, for their pivotal role in the fight against infectious diseases that affect millions of people throughout the developing world, and claim hundreds of thousands of lives, with children among the most vulnerable. Alonso’s work has been crucial to the latest advances against malaria, which have delivered a 60% reduction in mortality rates over the past 15 years. Myler’s research is opening vital avenues for the development of future drugs or vaccines against what are widely referred to as poverty-related or neglected diseases.
The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Economics, Finance and Management category goes, in this ninth edition, to Daron Acemoglu, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for identifying the causal impact of institutions on economic development, through an innovative mix of theoretical and empirical analysis “that has been influential not only in economics, but also in political science, history, and social sciences more broadly.”
The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Contemporary Music category goes, in this ninth edition, to composer Sofia Gubaidulina. The jury in its citation singles out the “outstanding musical and personal qualities” of the Russian composer, whose works demonstrate “the exceptional range and quality of her music, which builds on a diversity of traditions in individual and innovative ways, using a range of instruments that sometimes draw on folk music and improvisation.” The citation also highlights the “spiritual quality” imbuing Gubaidulina’s work, together with “the transformative dimension of her music, ensuring it a broad dissemination beyond conventional audiences for contemporary music.”
The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Ecology and Conservation Biology category goes, in this ninth edition, to ecologists Gene E. Likens and Marten Scheffer for contributing decisively to what the jury describes as “one of the major challenges” of this scientific discipline: to understand and, where possible, anticipate ecosystem responses to human-induced alterations of the natural environment.