You are here

Speakers at the Breakthrough Prize Symposium and Panel Discussion include the following individuals. Additional speakers will come from the 2016 cohort of Breakthrough Prize awardees to be announced on November 8, 2015.

Names marked with * denote past Breakthrough Prize awardees.


Nima Arkani-Hamed *
Professor of Physics, Institute for Advanced Study

Nima Arkani-Hamed is a theoretical physicist with interests in high-energy physics, string theory and cosmology. Arkani-Hamed is on the faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. More...

Cornelia Bargmann *
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Rockefeller University

Cornelia Bargmann is a neurobiologist at Rockefeller University. Her research focuses on how genes, the environment, and experience interact to shape an animal’s behavior. President Obama named Bargmann as a co-chairwoman of the advisory commission for the Brain Initiative. More...

Alim-Louis Benabid *
Emeritus Professor, Université Joseph Fourier

Alim-Louis Benabid is an emeritus professor, neurosurgeon and member of the French Academy of Sciences. His research has had a global impact on the development of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders. More...

Steven Boggs
‎Professor and Chair of Physics, UC Berkeley

Steven Boggs serves as the Chair of the Department of Physics at UC Berkeley. His research is in experimental high energy astrophysics, developing X-ray, gamma-ray, and cosmic-ray instruments to study creations in the universe. More...

Raphael Bousso
Professor of Physics, UC Berkeley

Raphael Bousso is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He is recognized for discovering the Bousso bound, which limits how much quantum information can be stored in the universe. He co-discovered the landscape of string theory, explaining why empty space weighs surprisingly little. More...

Sourav Chatterjee
Professor of Statistics and Mathematics, Stanford

Sourav Chatterjee  is a mathematician. He has won several international awards for his work in probability theory, including the Rollo Davidson Prize (2010), the Doeblin Prize (2012) and the Loève Prize (2013), and an invitation to speak at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 2014. More...

I-han Chou
Senior Strategy Editor, Nature

I-han Chou is a senior strategy editor for the scientific journal Nature, leading a team of editors in the evaluation and selection of neuroscience research advances for publication. She is also developing strategic approaches for validating and disseminating work that addresses societal challenges.

Mahlon DeLong *
Professor, Emory University, School of Medicine

Mahlon DeLong is a neurologist and professor at Emory University's School of Medicine. His research has advanced the understanding and treatment of Parkinson's disease, dystonia, tremor and other neurological movement disorders.

Jennifer Doudna *
Professor of Chemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley

Jennifer Doudna is a professor of chemistry and molecular and cell biology and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is widely known for pioneering the "DNA scissors" CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing method. More...

David Eisenbud
Professor of Mathematics, UC Berkeley

David Eisenbud is a professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley and Director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI). His mathematical interests include commutative and non-commutative algebra, algebraic geometry, topology, and computational methods in these fields. More...

Napoleone Ferrara *
Professor of Ophthalmology and Pathology, UC San Diego

Napoleone Ferrara is widely recognized for his work identifying the role of VEGF in promoting angiogenesis – the formation of new blood vessels that can feed tumor growth  –  and for the subsequent development of two major monoclonal antibody drugs. More...

Lawrence Hall
Professor of Physics, UC Berkeley
Lawrence Hall is a professor of physics at UC Berkeley with interests in particle physics and cosmology.  He is known for theories of supersymmetry, dark matter and unification of the forces. He was the founding director of the Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics. More...
Beate Heinemann
Professor of Physics, UC Berkeley

Beate Heinemann is a professor of physics at UC Berkeley and a research scientist at the Berkeley Lab. As a member of the ATLAS collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider, her research explores the fundamental forces and particles of nature. More...

Ehud Isacoff
Professor of Neurobiology, UC Berkeley

Ehud Isacoff is a molecular neuroscientist who has developed novel methods in biological optics for observing and remote-controlling ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors and chemical transmission of information at synaptic contacts between neurons.  More...

George Lakoff
Professor of Linguistics, UC Berkeley

George Lakoff is a cognitive linguist best known for his discovery of the detailed workings of metaphorical thought and how it structures our understanding of the world — including higher mathematics, political ideologies, and philosophical theories.  More...

Andrei Linde *
Professor of Physics, Stanford

Andrei Linde is a theoretical physicist and one of the authors of inflationary theory and of the theory of an eternal inflationary multiverse. His work emphasizes the cosmological implications of string theory. More...

Christopher McKee
Interim Vice Chancellor for Research, UC Berkeley

Christopher McKee is professor emeritus of astronomy and physics at UC Berkeley. He currently serves as Interim Vice Chancellor for Research.  He was the founding Director of the Theoretical Astrophysics Center and served as Director of the Space Sciences Laboratory.  More...

Yuri Milner
Co-founder Breakthrough Prize
Yuri Milner founded DST Global, one of the world’s leading technology investment companies with a portfolio that includes Facebook, Twitter, and Alibaba. Yuri is co-founder of the Breakthrough Prize and recently launched the $100M Breakthrough Initiative to reinvigorate the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. More…
David Nadler
Professor of Mathematics, UC Berkeley

David Nadler is a professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley. His research interests are in geometric representation theory and symplectic geometry. More...

Gabriel Orebi Gann
Professor of Physics, UC Berkeley

Gabriel is an experimental particle physicist, with an interest in weakly interacting particles. Her research focuses on neutrinos and dark matter. Her primary experimental involvement is in the SNO+ neutrino experiment, located in Ontario, Canada. More...

Saul Perlmutter *
Nobel Laureate and Professor of Physics, UC Berkeley

Saul Perlmutter is a professor of physics at UC Berkeley. Perlmutter shared both the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy with Brian P. Schmidt and Adam Riess for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. More...

Gary Ruvkun *
Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital

Gary Ruvkun’s research has focused on the dark matter of genomes, the microRNA genes and other tiny RNAs, genetic control of animal longevity and immune surveillance, and detection of life on other planets. More...

Thomas Shutt
Professor of Physics, Stanford

Thomas Shutt works in the experimental intersection of particle physics and cosmology, with a specific interest in determining the nature of dark matter. A professor at SLAC, Stanford, he was co-founder of the world-leading LUX dark matter search experiment, and founding spokesperson of the successor LUX-ZEPLIN experiment. More...

Richard Taylor *
Professor of Mathematics, Institute for Advanced Study

Richard Taylor is a mathematician working in the field of number theory. He is known for his numerous breakthrough results in the theory of automorphic forms, including the Taniyama–Weil conjecture, the local Langlands conjecture for general linear groups, and the Sato–Tate conjecture. More…

Peter Walter
Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, UCSF and HHMI Investigator
Peter Walter is a molecular biologist and biochemist . He is the current President-Elect of the American Society of Cell Biology. Peter has been awarded several honors including the 2011 Otto Warburg Medal, the 2014 Lasker Award and the 2014 Shaw Prize. More...
Robert Weinberg *
Professor for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Robert Weinberg is a Founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Professor of Biology at MIT.  He is a pioneer in cancer research most widely known for his discoveries of the first human oncogene—a gene that causes normal cells to form tumors—and the first tumor suppressor gene. More...

Jonathan Weissman
Professor of Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology, UCSF & and HHMI Investigator

Jonathan Weissman is widely recognized for building innovative tools for broadly exploring organizational principles of biological systems. These include ribosome profiling, which globally monitors protein translation, and CRIPSRi/a for turning human genes on and off. More...

Lauren Williams
Professor of Mathematics, UC Berkeley

Lauren Williams is a professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley. Her research interests are in combinatorics and connections to representation theory, geometry, and statistical physics. More...

Stanley Wojcicki
Emeritus Professor of Physics, Stanford

Stanley Wojcicki is an emeritus professor and former chair of the physics department at Stanford. His research focused on neutrino oscillation—the change from one flavor into another as a neutrino travels through space—and how to measure oscillation mode and parameters. More...

Peter Worden
Chairman, Breakthrough Prize Foundation

Peter Worden is the Chairman for the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. Previously he was director of NASA's Ames Research Center and professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He is a recognized expert on space issues – both civil and military. More...

Maciej Zworski
Professor of Mathematics, UC Berkeley

Maciej Zworski is a professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley working on scattering theory and microlocal analysis. More...