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Oak Ridge National Lab scientist wins prestigious $250K Young Scientist prize
By Jeaneane Payne, Publisher

OAK RIDGE, TN - The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences have chosen the 2018 Laureates of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, who will each receive $250,000. It is the largest unrestricted scientific prize offered to America’s most promising faculty-level scientific researchers 42 years of age and younger. Nominated by 146 research institutions across 42 states, the 286 nominees were narrowed to a pool of 31 Blavatnik National Finalists. From this pool of Finalists, a distinguished scientific jury chose three outstanding Laureates, one in each of the Awards’ scientific disciplinary categories—Life Sciences, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Chemistry.

  sergei v kalinin
Sergei V. Kalinin, PhD - Photo courtesy NY Academy of Sciences

Sergei V. Kalinin, PhD, director of the Institute for Functional Imaging of Materials at Oak Ridge National Laboratory was named the National Laureate in Physical Sciences & Engineering of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. Dr. Kalinin created novel techniques to study, measure, and control the functionality of nanomaterials at the atomic and nanoscale. His work manipulating individual atoms has the potential to enable scientists to create new classes of materials by assembling matter atom-by-atom.

Since 2007, the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists have been recognizing researchers under the age of 42 in the New York area, across the United States, and now internationally in Israel and the United Kingdom. By the close of 2018, the Blavatnik Awards will have conferred prizes totaling more than $6.7 million, honoring 249 outstanding young scientists and engineers.

The 2018 Blavatnik National Laureates, along with the 2018 Blavatnik National Finalists, will be honored at the Blavatnik National Awards ceremony on Monday, September 24, 2018, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

At $250,000, this is the largest unrestricted science prize given anywhere in the world to researchers age 42 and under. Dr. Kalinin has done amazing work early in his career, and the award will help him take his work to the next level.

A nanoscientist, Dr. Kalinin is being recognized for fundamentally changing the way scientists are able to measure, image and manipulate matter at the atomic and nanoscale (please see attached press release for more detail on Dr. Kalinin’s breakthrough research).

Dr. Kalinin teaches at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in addition to his work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Fundamentally changing the way scientists are able to measure, image, and manipulate matter at the atomic and nanoscale The scientific community is experiencing transformative changes in the ways that science is being performed because of Dr. Sergei V. Kalinin’s work in the field of nanoscale instrumentation. In the area of scanning probe microscopy, Dr. Kalinin has fundamentally enhanced the way scientists are able to measure, image, and manipulate matter at the atomic and nanoscale. Utilizing his deep knowledge and appreciation of fundamental physics, combined with an outstanding mathematical talent and a creative spark, he has significantly expanded the imaging capabilities of scanning probe microscopes, from purely an imaging tool to one that can perform quantitative analysis of a material’s electromechanical, electrochemical, acoustic, and magnetic properties and also probe phase transitions and electrochemical reactions in materials at the nanoscale.

More recently, Dr. Kalinin has redirected his energies in the direction of another tool — the electron microscope — which uses an electron beam to study materials at high resolution. He has taken what was once considered an undesirable artifact in electron imaging—damage incurred by an electron beam hitting a sample during imaging with a scanning transmission electron microscope—and repurposed it in a precise and controlled manner to manipulate atomic structure not only at the surface but also in the bulk of the material. He has also demonstrated the movement and placement of single atoms in premeditated patterns using a scanning transmission electron microscope, an accomplishment which is moving the scientific community towards the long-held dream of building materials and devices atom-by-atom.

Dr. Kalinin, who was a Blavatnik National Finalist in 2016 and in 2017 commented, “Through big data and machine learning techniques, my aim is to harness these advances to transform atomically resolved imaging from mere observations of structure and dynamics to understanding why atoms behave in a particular way, what are the associated functionalities, and how to direct them to do what we want—to make better materials and enable atomic scale manufacturing.”

“Sergei Kalinin belongs to that rare breed of researchers who can make pioneering contributions to both science and the tools of science. He has used the most advanced microscopes to image and understand materials at the atomic scale, for instance, how their functionality can be controlled by a single defect in an otherwise perfectly periodic structure. That knowledge is important to develop digital memories and energy-harvesting materials, among other applications,” – Emilio Mendez, PhD, Energy Science and Technology Department

About the Blavatnik Family Foundation
The Blavatnik Family Foundation is an active supporter of many leading educational, scientific, cultural, and charitable institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and throughout the world. Recipients of Foundation support include University of Oxford, Harvard University, Yale University, Tel Aviv University, Stanford University, New York University, the New York Academy of Sciences, Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Carnegie Hall, the Royal Opera House, the Hermitage Museum, the Israel Museum, Lincoln Center, Jewish charitable organizations, and countless other philanthropic institutions. The Foundation is headed by Len Blavatnik, a major American and British entrepreneur and philanthropist. Len Blavatnik is the Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, a privately held U.S. industrial group with global strategic interests in natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications, venture capital, and real estate. For more detailed information, please visit

About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been driving innovative solutions to society’s challenges by advancing scientific research, education, and policy. Throughout its history, the Academy's Membership has featured thinkers and innovators from all walks of life, including U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, Thomas Edison, Lord Kelvin, Charles Darwin, Margaret Mead, Louis Pasteur, and over 130 Nobel Laureates. Today, the Academy numbers over 20,000 Members in 100+ countries, with a President's Council that includes 36 Nobel Laureates and a distinguished Board of Governors comprised of leaders from business, academia, and philanthropy. It is also young and dynamic with nearly 10,000 post-doctoral, post-graduate, undergraduate, and gifted high school student Members. Through collective action, the Academy is partnering with the United Nations to address their Sustainable Development Goals, advising national leaders and organizing public-private partnerships to address the grand challenges of the planet. For more information, please visit and follow on Twitter at @NYASciences.

To follow the progress of the Blavatnik Awards, please visit or follow on Twitter (@BlavatnikAwards).

Published July 1, 2018

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