Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2001

Release # 069-01

Contact: Sunny Mindel/Lynn Rasic
(212) 788-2958
  Cathie Behrend (Cultural Affairs)
(212) 643-7791


Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani tonight announced the winners of the annual Mayor's Awards for Excellence in Science and Technology at a reception at Gracie Mansion. The awards recognize the important role members of the science and engineering communities play in the success of the City.

Joining the Mayor for the presentation were Deputy Mayor for Education, Cultural Affairs and Planning Anthony P. Coles; Cultural Affairs Commissioner Schuyler G. Chapin; New York Academy of Sciences President and CEO Rodney Nichols; New York Academy of Sciences Chairperson William Green; and Rudin Management Company Inc. President Bill Rudin.

"It is an honor to congratulate the recipients of the annual Mayor's Awards for Excellence in Science and Technology," Mayor Giuliani said. "Thanks to these men and women, who represent some of the finest scientific minds our City and our society have to offer, hundreds of thousands of lives have been changed for the better and millions more will be affected.

"The scientific and technological research applications that are discovered and perfected in New York City constitute not only some of our greatest commercial exports, but some of our greatest contributions to the world. Those contributions are precisely the goal of the Mayor's Task Force on Biomedical Research and Biotechnology and the Council on New Media. Our goal is to nurture world class researchers, and promote and expand their presence in New York City."

This year's winners of the Mayor's Awards are:

Dominic P. Purpura -- Biological and Medical Sciences
Dr. Purpura's accomplishments span the fields of fundamental science, clinical applications, and medical education. He has made important contributions to our understanding of the cellular basis of electrical activity in the brain and our understanding of mental retardation, epilepsy, Parkinson's Disease, and neuronal storage disorders. For 17 years Dr. Purpura has worked tirelessly to foster cooperation among the City's outstanding hospitals and medical colleges. He is Professor of Neuroscience and Dean of the School of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Horst L. Stormer -- Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences
Dr. Stormer, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1998, has made world-renowned contributions to both theoretical and applied physics. The Nobel Prize was awarded to him for his work at Bell Labs on the "fractional quantum hall effect" -- a phenomenon observed at low temperatures in the presence of high magnetic fields in which electrons form new types of "particles" having fractional charges -- called by the prize committee "another breakthrough in our understanding of quantum physics… of significance for many branches of modern physics." He is currently Adjunct Director of Physics at Bell Laboratories and Lucent Technologies, and Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Columbia University.

Gerald D. Cohen -- Technology
Mr. Cohen was an early leader and consistent innovator in database technology. He personally developed the first "4th generation" computer languages RAMIS, and FOCUS, an early leading product in database management. As Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Information Builders Inc., he developed one of the largest software companies in New York City and the world, serving thousands of businesses, universities, and government agencies worldwide. His company helps clients transform their data into usable intelligence and deliver it to the Internet. Most recently, he helped the New York City Department of Health put together an online public information service for flu vaccines.

John Noble Wilford -- Public Understanding of Science and Technology
Mr. Wilford is regarded as one of the outstanding science journalists of our time, winning the Pulitzer Prizes for National Reporting in 1983 and 1987 for his work on space sciences, planetary exploration, and the Challenger disaster. He has authored nine books and many articles, and he was one of the founders, as well as senior correspondent, of the Science Times section of the New York Times. He has also accepted lectureships in science journalism at Duke University, Princeton, and the University of Tennessee. Mr. Wilford has dedicated his life to communicating the wonders, and problems, of science and technology to the general public.

The Young Investigator (Four Awardees)
Dr. Jill Bargonetti -- Dr. Bargonetti has made significant contributions to cancer research, particularly relating to the p53 tumor suppressor and its relation to DNA. She is also investigating how different chemotherapeutic drugs can activate the p53 protein during the course of the cell cycle.

She has published in distinguished journals, received over $1 million in grant funding, and received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the National Science Foundation. She is Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Hunter College.

Dr. Angela Christiano -- Dr. Christiano is one of today's leading young molecular geneticists. Four years ago, at the age of 30, she began losing her hair at an alarming rate, a victim of a common genetic disorder. Noticing the lack of research in this area, she dedicated her lab at Columbia University to the understanding of the molecular genetics of hair growth and cycling. In 1998 she discovered the first gene for inherited hair loss. Since then, her scientific accomplishments and personal courage have been featured in scientific publications and the public media worldwide. She is Associate Professor of Dermatology and Genetics at Columbia University of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Janet Conrad -- Dr. Conrad is an accomplished physicist and an outstanding organizer of experimental research programs. She is recognized worldwide as a leader in two key areas of particle physics: understanding the strong interaction forces among quarks (quantum chromodynamics -- QCD) and measuring neutrinos. Dr. Conrad initiated and is currently leading two experimental efforts at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, including one aimed at determining whether neutrinos have mass. She has won a Presidential Early Career Award, among other honors. She is Associate Professor of Physics at Columbia University.

Dr. George Dvali -- Dr. Dvali received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics at the Institute of Physics of the Georgian Academy of Sciences in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. At the age of 37 he is considered one of the world's influential theoretical physicists, significantly advancing particle physics and string theory in particular. He specializes in developing understanding of multidimensional spaces, and has provided insights into two deep puzzles of physics: why the universe has only three large dimensions, and why matter was not fully annihilated when it collided with antimatter during the early stages of the Big Bang. Dr. Dvali won a 1999 Packard Foundation Award, granted to only 24 young investigators in all fields in any year. He is Associated Professor of Physics at New York University.

Under the leadership of President Nichols, the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) is administering the nomination, evaluation and review process for the awards, in close partnership with Commissioner Chapin and the Department of Cultural Affairs. Dr. Fleur Strand, Dr. Cathleen Morawetz, Dr. George Bugliarello, and Mr. Doron Weber are directing the Academy's four review panels. The Mayor thanked Drs. Strand, Morawetz and Bugliarello, who are retiring from the panel in their respective areas after this year's awards.

Each year, nominations are received through a comprehensive nominating process that includes outreach to all sectors in the City's scientific communities. Individuals may be nominated for either a special achievement or a lifetime body of work in the five awards categories: Technology, Biological/Medical Science and Technology, and Young Investigator. Candidates must live or work in New York City. The Mayor chooses winners from a list of finalists submitted by NYAS.

Tonight's event at Gracie Mansion was underwritten by the New York Information Technology Center at 55 Broad Street, and by the Rudin Family.

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