The Kyoto Prize / Laureates / The 2015 Kyoto Prize Laureates

Advanced Technology / Prize Field: Materials Science and Engineering

ImageToyoki Kunitake

Japan / February 26, 1936
President, Kitakyushu Foundation for the Advancement of Industry, Science and Technology

“Pioneering Contributions to the Materials Sciences by Discovering Synthetic Bilayer Membranes and Creating the Field of Chemistry Based on Molecular Self-Assembly”
Dr. Kunitake was the first in the world to report that synthetic molecules could spontaneously produce bilayer membranes - a basic structure common to the biological membranes of living cells. His innovative research has helped to illuminate the formation of bilayer membranes as a universal phenomenon not only in aqueous but also in organic solvents for amphiphilic compounds with extensive molecular structures. By systematizing a mechanism of synthetic bilayer membrane formation, he helped to establish the new and promising academic field of chemistry based on molecular self-assembly, which is opening new frontiers in the materials sciences.

Basic Sciences / Prize Field: Earth and Planetary Sciences, Astronomy and Astrophysics

ImageMichel Mayor

Switzerland / January 12, 1942
Professor Emeritus, University of Geneva

“Outstanding Contributions in Evolving a New Vision of the Universe through the Discovery of Extrasolar Planet”
Dr. Mayor answered a fundamental age-old question of astronomy regarding the existence of exoplanets by discovering the first one orbiting a Sun-like star. This achievement was facilitated by his continuous refinement and improvement of observation technology, including the development of a series of spectrographs. His continuing contributions have revealed the diversity of exoplanets, opening an entirely new field of research.

Arts and Philosophy / Prize Field: Theater, Cinema

ImageJohn Neumeier

Germany, U.S.A./February 24, 1942
Intendant and Artistic Director, The Hamburg Ballet

“A Choreographer Who Developed 20th Century Ballet to New Levels, and Continues to Lead the Global Dance Scene Today”
Mr. Neumeier is a world-leading choreographer who specializes in applying traditional ballet technique and vocabulary to maximize the potential for bodily expression and capture the details of human psychology. He has gradually combined the essence of two genres, dramatic ballet and abstract ballet, thereby raising the art to a new level.

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