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Nobel laureates with MIT ties feted in Sweden

The 2022 honorees received their prizes, and the 2020 and 2021 winners were also honored at the first full ceremony since the start of the pandemic.
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Overview of a large stage with many Nobel Prize winners and guests, all in formal dress, plus the king and queen of Sweden and an orchestra above.
The Nobel Prize award ceremony at the Konserthuset in Stockholm honored winners of the 2022, 2021, and 2020 prizes.
Image: Nanaka Adachi / Nobel Prize Outreach

For the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nobel Prizes were awarded in a grand in-person ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. Among those honored on Saturday were a number of laureates with ties to MIT — including this year’s winners as well as winners from 2020 and 2021, who were not able to experience the traditional Nobel celebration due to Covid-19 precautions.

New winners received their medals from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. They include Ben Bernanke PhD ’79, an economist who was awarded a share of the 2022 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel; as well as chemists K. Barry Sharpless, a former MIT professor, and Carolyn Bertozzi, daughter of Professor Emeritus William Bertozzi and the first woman to win the Lemelson-MIT Prize. Both Sharpless and Bertozzi won a share of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, “for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry.”

Earlier honorees received their Nobel Prizes in smaller ceremonies in 2020 or 2021 and were invited to Sweden to participate in this year’s festivities.

From MIT, those included professor of economics Joshua Angrist, who shared the 2021 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel; physiologist David Julius ’77, who won a share the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; and astrophysicist Andrea Ghez ’87, who shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Honorees and their invited guests took part in a number of activities in Stockholm during this year’s Nobel Week, which began with an official banquet and a tour of Nobel Week Lights around the city. Press conferences, speeches, and a visit to the Nobel Prize Museum followed, including a traditional signing of chairs by the laureates of 2022, 2021, and 2020. The celebrations culminated with the awarding of this year’s prizes on Saturday, the anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel. 

100 MIT affiliates — including faculty, staff, alumni, and others — have won Nobel Prizes, according to MIT Institutional Research. Photos from the festivities appear below.

Tweet photo from @NobelPrize of Barry Sharpless speaking to Andrea Ghez. Text: When physics laureate Andrea Ghez and chemistry laureate Barry Sharpless met in Stockholm, Sweden:   Ghez: Prof Sharpless I just wanted to introduce myself. You were my professor at MIT!  Sharpless: Oh is that true? Hope I didn’t hurt you too much!  Ghez: Oh no not at all!
MIT's influence on Nobel Prize recipients was on display in a tweet from Nobel Week.
Ben Bernanke gives a speech on stage while holding a small device.
Along with Douglas Diamond and Philip Dybvig, Ben Bernanke PhD ’79, seen here delivering his Nobel Lecture, won the 2022 Nobel Prize in economic sciences for his research on the role of banks in the economy, including during financial crises.
Image: Nobel Prize Outreach

Joshua Agrist and Guido Imbens hold gold Nobel Prize medals indoors against a gray background.
MIT Professor Joshua Angrist (left) and Stanford University Professor Guido Imbens visited the Nobel Foundation during Nobel Week. Angrist, Imbens, and David Card of the University of California at Berkeley shared the 2021 Nobel Prize in economic sciences for work building the foundations of “natural experiments” in economic research.
Image: Dan Lepp / Nobel Prize Outreach

Andrea Ghez shows off the bottom of a black chair with signatures in gold ink.
Per tradition, Andrea Ghez ’87 signed a chair at the Nobel Prize Museum. She won a share of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics with Reinhard Genzel, “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy.” The other half of the prize was awarded to Roger Penrose, “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.”
Image: Clément Morin / Nobel Prize Outreach

Two photos show Barry Sharpless and Carolyn Bertozzi on stage accepting awards.
New Nobel laureates K. Barry Sharpless and Carolyn Bertozzi share MIT roots. They also shared the 2022 chemistry prize with Morten Meldal “for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry.”
Image: Clément Morin (Sharpless) and Nanaka Adachi (Bertozzi) / Nobel Prize Outreach

Ardem Patapoutian, David Julius, and Alexander Wolfing look up at a unique street lamp at night with water and city buildings of Stockholm, Sweden, behind them.
Ardem Patapoutian (left) and David Julius ’77 (right) visited the Nobel Week Lights. At center is the artist Alexander Wolfing in front of his work, “KINESTHESIA,” inspired by the laureates’ research on how the body senses touch and temperature.
Image: Dan Lepp / Nobel Prize Outreach

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