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UC researchers sweep prestigious National Awards for Young Scientists

Syed Jafar of UC Irvine is one of three UC professors to win the 2015 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.

Syed Jafar of UC Irvine is one of three UC professors to win the 2015 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.

Three pioneering University of California professors — a biochemist from Berkeley, a neurosurgeon from San Francisco and a computer scientist from Irvine — were honored today (June 30) with the 2015 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, each garnering an unrestricted prize of $250,000 in recognition of their research and outstanding promise early in their careers. This is the first time that all three winners have hailed from one university system.

The annual awards, which are administered by the New York Academy of Sciences on behalf of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, recognize the nation’s most exceptional young scientists and engineers.

The following three national laureates were chosen from among 300 nominations submitted by the country’s leading universities and research institutions:

  • Christopher J. Chang: professor of chemistry and molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, who was recognized for both his energy research and his work in the emerging field known as metalloneurochemistry
  • Edward F. Chang: an associate professor of neurological surgery and physiology at UC San Francisco and co-director of the Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses at UC Berkeley and UCSF, who won the life sciences award for his research on the brain mechanisms of language processing
  • Syed Jafar: professor of electrical engineering and computer science at UC Irvine, who won the physical sciences and engineering award for his discoveries in interference alignment that challenge the design of wireless networks

“To have the University of California sweep the Blavatnik awards with three of our best young scientists is evidence of the continuing research excellence of our public university system,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “On behalf of the entire UC community, we couldn’t be more delighted.”

The Blavatnik awards recognize emerging scientists who are making significant advances in chemistry, life sciences, physical sciences or engineering. Its $250,000 award is the largest unrestricted cash prize for early career scientists.

For more information about the winners and the Blavatnik Awards, visit

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