"NOMIS is all about enabling outstanding talent to take on high-risk research."
- Georg Heinrich “Heini” Thyssen, NOMIS Founder

2021 NOMIS Distinguished Scientists

NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Awards (NOMIS 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. NOMIS Awards enable these exceptional, established scientists to continue exploring unconventional and uncharted research paths, thereby opening up new research fields and collaborations.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Higgins Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Lee and Ezpeleta Professor of Arts and Sciences

Catherine Dulac is a 2021 NOMIS Awardee and has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator since 1997, the Higgins Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University since 2001 and the Lee and Ezpeleta Professor of Arts and Sciences at Harvard since 2018. She is leading the project Understanding the Instinctive Drive for Social Interactions.

Dulac grew up in Montpellier, France. She graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, and in 1991 received her PhD from the University of Paris VI. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University (New York, US) and joined Harvard University (Cambridge, US) as a junior faculty in 1996 before becoming professor of molecular and cellular biology in 2001 and chair of Harvard’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology from 2007 until 2013. She is a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honor) and a recipient of numerous awards including the Richard Lounsbery Award, the Karl Spencer Lashley Award and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. She is a member of multiple scientific advisory boards in the US and abroad, and recently served as the co-chair of the National Institutes of Health Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) BRAIN Initiative Working Group 2.0.

Dulac 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 sensory cues that trigger distinct social behaviors, the nature and identity of social behavior circuits in males and females, and how they are modulated by the animal physiological status. In recent work, her laboratory has uncovered how brain circuits control parenting behavior in both males and females, and how different parts of the brain participate in the positive and negative controls of parental care.

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Professor of ecology

Robert (Rob) Ewers is a 2021 NOMIS Awardee and has been professor of ecology at Imperial College London, UK, since 2017. He is leading the project A Virtual Rainforest for Understanding the Stability, Resilience and Sustainability of Complex Ecosystems.

Born in rural New Zealand, Ewers studied ecology and geography for his BSc (hons) at the University of Canterbury (Christchurch, NZ), where he went on to receive a PhD in zoology in 2004. He completed a short postdoctoral research fellowship at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama before completing a joint fellowship with the Institute of Zoology and the University of Cambridge (UK). Ewers became a lecturer at Imperial College London (UK) in 2007. He is a member of the British Ecological Society, the New Zealand Ecological Society and the New Zealand Entomological Society. He is the recipient of the Zoological Society of London Scientific Medal and his group earned the UNESCO Netexplo Innovation Forum Award.

Ewers 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. He 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. By creating a computer simulation of one of the world’s most complex ecosystems, a tropical rainforest, Ewers’ 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.