NOMIS announces recipients of 2021 Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award

March 1, 2021

The NOMIS Foundation is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2021 NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award—congratulations to Catherine Dulac of Harvard University and Robert Ewers of Imperial College London. In recognition of their outstanding contributions to the advancement of science and human progress through their pioneering, innovative and collaborative research, the NOMIS Award is enabling the scientists to continue this noble endeavor in their respective fields.

NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Awards are presented to pioneering scientists and scholars who, through their innovative, groundbreaking research, have made a significant contribution to their respective fields and who inspire the world around them. Their bold ideas and unique approaches involve interdisciplinary collaboration and apply a broad range of methods, building bridges across the boundaries of disciplines. The award will be presented to the recipients at a ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland, in October 2021.

NOMIS Awardee Catherine Dulac

Catherine Dulac (Photo: Harvard MCB Graphics)

Catherine Dulac is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Higgins Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Lee and Ezpeleta Professor of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University in Cambridge, USA. She is a biologist who has made crucial contributions to the molecular and functional identification of neural circuits underlying instinctive social behaviors in mice, and to the study of genomic imprinting in the adult and developing brain. Dulac and her team have helped decipher the unique characteristics of social recognition, including the unique cues that trigger distinct social behaviors, the nature and identity of social behavior circuits, the differing functions of these circuits in males and females, and how they are modulated by the animal physiological status.

Through her NOMIS-supported project, Understanding the Instinctive Drive for Social Interactions, Dulac is investigating how the fundamental need for social interaction is generated and regulated by specific brain activity. Using cutting-edge genetics, transcriptomics, physiology and imaging approaches, she aims to uncover the neural basis underlying the instinctive drive for animals to interact with each other.

NOMIS Awardee Robert Ewers

Robert Ewers (Photo: Imperial College London)

Robert (Rob) Ewers is professor of ecology at Imperial College London, UK. He is an international leader in the discipline of landscape ecology, for which he has developed new theories for modeling the time-delayed impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation on species’ extinction rates. Ewers is widely recognized for having established the groundbreaking Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) Project—one of the world’s largest ecological experiments—which has provided key insights into the ecological resilience of human-modified tropical forests.

Ewers’ NOMIS-supported project, A Virtual Rainforest for Understanding the Stability, Resilience and Sustainability of Complex Ecosystems, is enabling him to create a computer simulation of one of the world’s most complex ecosystems: a tropical rainforest. By conducting virtual experiments inside the virtual rainforest to address ecological questions that cannot be addressed through empirical observations, Ewer’s research will advance our understanding of how rainforest systems perpetuate themselves and gain insight into their ability to resist the ever-increasing pressures that people place upon these ecosystems.