Kyoto Prize 2013: Inamori Foundation announces this year’s laureates

21 June 2013

Kyoto/Neuss – The Kyoto Prize, alongside the Nobel Prize one of the world’s highest honors for the lifetime achievement of outstanding personalities in the fields of culture and science, is being awarded this year to electronics engineer Dr. Robert Heath Dennard, biologist Dr. Masatoshi Nei and jazz musician Cecil Taylor. Each worth 50 million yen (around €400,000/£336,000*), the prizes are awarded each year by the Inamori Foundation, which was initiated in 1984 by Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder of the Japanese technology corporation Kyocera.

With its Kyoto Prize, the Inamori Foundation pays tribute to the lifetime achievement of personalities who have excelled in their fields through outstanding accomplishments. In accordance with tradition, the presentation ceremony will be traditionally held in Kyoto on 10 November 2013.

Kyoto Prize Laureates 2013

The Committee awards the Kyoto Prize in the categories “Advanced Technology”, “Basic Sciences” and “Arts and Philosophy”. This year the laureates are being honored in the related prize categories “Electronics”, “Biological Sciences” and “Music”.

Dr. Robert Heath Dennard (b. 5 September 1932, USA)

Dr. Robert Heath Dennard, the US-American electronics engineer, invented the basic structure of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) in 1967; this is now utilized extensively as one of the integrated circuit (IC) memory systems. His innovation has increased the capacity of digital information storage immensely, leading to dramatic progress in information and telecommunications technology. Dr. Dennard and his colleagues also developed guidelines entitled "Scaling Theory" for the miniaturization of field-effect transistors, which play key roles in most ICs, including DRAMs, thus creating remarkable advances in IC technology. Today’s extensive use of digital resources in everyday life, as well as in science, would not be possible without the achievements of Dr. Dennard and his successors.

Dr. Dennard about his award: “I’m truly delighted and honored to receive this prestigious award. I can only say that what is really being recognized is the silicon technology advancements over these many years, which I had some influential part in getting started. But so many thousands of people have contributed in their ways to this field and helped it progress to such an extent that these developments have changed the world we live in.”

Dr. Masatoshi Nei (b. 2 January 1931, USA)

The Japanese evolutionary biologist Dr. Masatoshi Nei has played a key role in creating a better understanding of evolutional biology with his research. In the 1970s, he worked on evolutionary divergence, genetic diversity and the mode of selection on genes in a quantitative manner by devising diverse statistical methods, such as Nei’s genetic distance, and applying them to molecular data.
With the results of this research, the point in time at which human populations split from a common ancestor can be estimated.

Dr. Nei’s research has yielded major contributions to molecular evolutionary biology as well as to many other academic disciplines, including ecology and conservation biology.

Dr. Nei about the award: "Throughout my career as a researcher, I have faced various difficulties. This somehow makes me feel that I have been rewarded for my efforts. I cannot adequately express how honored I am. I am truly delighted."

Cecil Taylor (b. 25 March 1929, USA)

Cecil Taylor, one of the most influential jazz musicians worldwide, is among this year’s laureates. The Free Jazz piano player, who has been influenced by Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, has developed his innovative improvisation style, which departs from conventional idioms through distinctive musical constructions and percussive renditions, thereby opening up new possibilities in the world of jazz.

His unsurpassed virtuosity and strong will inject an intense, vital force into his music, which has exerted a profound influence on a broad range of musical genres. Mr. Taylor has toured Japan several times and has had a considerable impact on the country’s jazz community. In the late 1980s, he played frequent sessions with European free improvisers, thus adding a new page to the history of Europe’s improvised music scene.

The official press conference with the announcement of the laureates is available on the Inamori Foundation’s website:

About the Kyoto-Prize

With this year’s 29th Kyoto Prize, the Inamori Foundation will award personalities who have significantly contributed to the further development of the arts and sciences. Among those who have received the prize in past were the French composer Pierre Boulez, the German choreographer Pina Bausch, the philosopher Jürgen Habermas, the Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, the musician and conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, the artists Maurice Béjart and Roy Lichtenstein as well as the primatologist Jane Goodall.

*Exchange rate from 14 June 2013

Photos: © Inamori Foundation 2013

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