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Xiaolong Liu selected as the 2022 Blavatnik Regional Award winner in Physical Sciences & Engineering

Xiaolong Liu

NEW YORK – September 21, 2022 – The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences today announced the three Winners and six Finalists of the 2022 Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists. The Awards honor outstanding postdoctoral scientists from academic research institutions across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The announcement comes during the National Postdoctoral Association’s 13th annual celebration of 2022 National Postdoc Appreciation Week, which recognizes the significant contributions that postdoctoral scholars make to U.S. research and discovery.

The Blavatnik Regional Awards jury, consisting of distinguished scientists and engineers from across the New York region, selected one Winner in each of the three categories who will receive a $30,000 unrestricted prize and two Finalists in each category who will be awarded $10,000 each. In the 2022 competition, there were 158 outstanding nominations from 26 academic institutions in the New York metropolitan region (Tri-State area). The 2022 Blavatnik Regional Awards Winners and Finalists will be honored at the 2022 New York Academy of Sciences Gala at Cipriani 25 Broadway on November 14, 2022. Due to pandemic delays, the 2021 Blavatnik Regional Awards honorees will also be celebrated at that event.                                                               

“It is my great pleasure to congratulate this year’s Blavatnik Regional Awards Winners and Finalists,” said Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, and member of the President’s Council of the New York Academy of Sciences. “The Tri-State area is one of the most exciting scientific ecosystems, attracting outstanding postdoctoral talent from around the world. We look forward to great discoveries from these exceptional young scientists in the future.”

Nicholas B. Dirks, the New York Academy of Sciences’ President and CEO, said, “Postdocs are the quiet force driving scientific research. Without their tireless efforts and enormous sacrifice, most of our new discoveries and inventions in science, medicine, and engineering would not happen. We are proud to salute the 2022 Blavatnik Regional Awards Winners and Finalists as part of our Academy’s tribute to National Postdoc Appreciation Week.”


Life Sciences: Josefina del Mármol, PhD, nominated by The Rockefeller University

Molecular biologist Dr. Josefina del Mármol has provided the first structural snapshot of odor detection by an olfactory receptor (OR) from any species at the near-atomic level. At the molecular level, odors are composed of combinations of millions of chemically diverse compounds that animals must sense with only tens or hundreds of ORs. Through the use of cryo-electron microscopy, molecular biologist del Mármol determined the atomic structure of an insect OR and how multiple odorants, including the insect repellent DEET, interact with it in a structural and biochemical fashion. Del Mármol’s discoveries provided the first conclusive evidence that DEET targets insect ORs and supports the hypothesis that DEET “scrambles” the olfactory signal to “confuse” mosquitos. Del Mármol has recently joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School.

Physical Sciences & Engineering: Xiaolong Liu, PhD, nominated by Cornell University

Condensed Matter physicist Dr. Xiaolong Liu has developed new types of microscopic imaging techniques, like the high-speed scanning Josephson-tunneling microscopy technique (SJTM) that explore vexing problems in quantum physics. The new microscope Liu developed led to the very first atomic-scale observation of Cooper-pair density waves—standing waves of electron pairs in a superconductor, similar to the standing wave of a plucked string. Liu engages in another exciting area of physics—electron superfluids¾an electronic version of a fluid, much like water, that contains no resistance to flow. Using SJTM, Liu showed that jet-speeds of up to 3,000 meters per second (up to MACH 9) can be reached by electron pairs in a superfluid. The new imaging methodologies being developed by Liu are equipping scientists with novel tools to explore exciting new problems in quantum physics. Liu has recently joined the faculty at the University of Notre Dame.

Chemistry: Wen Zhang, PhD, nominated by Cornell University

Organic chemist Dr. Wen Zhang has harnessed electrochemistry to promote reactions of carbon-based compounds without relying on rare materials historically used in chemistry. Chemists use these transition metals—such as palladium or nickel—to manipulate the bonds between carbon atoms in organic molecules. Zhang is advancing the burgeoning field of electrochemical synthesis, which uses electricity to promote reactions instead of transition metals, by demonstrating the ability to manipulate carbon bonds in ways that are required to synthesize drugs and other medicinally relevant compounds. Zhang’s work is sparking a wave of new methods for synthesizing chemicals, and may prove critical in making chemistry more sustainable in the future.

About the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists

The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in 2007 and independently administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, initially identified outstanding regional scientific talent among faculty and postdoctoral students in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The Blavatnik National Awards, honoring faculty-rank scientists throughout the United States, were first awarded in 2014 and were expanded in 2017 to honor faculty-rank scientists in the United Kingdom and Israel. By the end of 2022, the Blavatnik Awards will have awarded prizes totaling $13.6 million and, to date, has honored over 392 scientists. Visit for further information.

About the Blavatnik Family Foundation

The Blavatnik Family Foundation is an active supporter of world-renowned educational, scientific, cultural, and charitable institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and other countries. The foundation is headed by Len Blavatnik, a businessman, philanthropist, and founder and chairman of Access Industries, a privately held industrial group based in the U.S. with global strategic interests.

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About the New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that has been committed to advancing science for the benefit of society since 1817. With more than 20,000 members in 100 countries, the Academy advances scientific and technical knowledge, addresses global challenges with science-based solutions, and sponsors a wide variety of educational initiatives at all levels for STEM and STEM-related fields. The Academy hosts programs and publishes content in the life and physical sciences, the social sciences, nutrition, artificial intelligence, computer science, and sustainability. The Academy also provides professional and educational resources for researchers across all phases of their careers. Please visit us online at

For more information about all 2022 Blavatnik Regional Awards Winners and honorees, see the full press release from the Blavatnik Foundation.

Media contact

Kamala Murthy,, 212-298-3740