The Vilcek Foundation has announced the recipients of the 2021 Vilcek Foundation Prizes. Awarded annually, the Vilcek Prizes and Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise honor the outstanding contributions of immigrants in the sciences and the arts.
The work of the prizewinners supports a greater understanding of our world and offers opportunities for further discovery and exploration. The Vilcek Prize for Excellence—introduced in 2019—is awarded to immigrants who have had a significant impact on culture and society, or to individuals who are dedicated champions of immigrant causes in the United States.
The recipients of the 2021 Vilcek Foundation Prizes have profoundly enriched scientific research and discovery, and contributed their vision and storytelling expertise to filmmaking in the United States. The Vilcek Prize for Excellence—awarded this year in Public Service—honors innovative ideas with the power to shift civic engagement and economics in our society.
Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients!
Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science
Professor of biology; director, Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Born in Germany
Ruth Lehmann receives the Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science for unraveling the molecular basis by which germ cells, which give rise to sperm and egg cells, are formed.
Vilcek Prize in Filmmaking
Born in Mexico
Rodrigo Prieto receives the Vilcek Prize in Filmmaking for his virtuosity and versatility—the sheer excellence and inventiveness of his work across styles and genres—and his central role in creating some of contemporary cinema’s most indelible works.
Vilcek Prize for Excellence in Public Service
Entrepreneur, author, and nonprofit leader
Born in the United States to Taiwanese immigrants
Andrew Yang receives the Vilcek Prize for Excellence in Public Service in recognition of his leadership in advancing ideas addressing issues ranging from wealth inequality, to understanding how corporations use individuals’ personal data, to autism and American families.
Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science
Associate professor, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University
Born in Egypt
Mohamed Abou Donia receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for demonstrating the potential of the human microbiome as a source of novel drugs and uncovering the basis of microbiome-driven drug metabolism.
Associate professor, Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Born in Niger
Ibrahim Cissé receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for using super-resolution biological imaging to directly visualize the dynamic nature of gene expression in living cells.
Andria and Paul Heafy Whitehead Fellow, the Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Born in Bulgaria
Silvi Rouskin receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for developing methods to unravel the shapes of RNA molecules inside cells and aiding the potential development of RNA-based therapeutics.
Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Filmmaking
Filmmaker, artist, educator
Born in Mexico
Juan Pablo González receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Filmmaking for the artistic rigor and deep emotional engagement that he brings to his immersive and intimate explorations of his hometown in rural Mexico.
Born in the Philippines
Miko Revereza receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Filmmaking for the ingenuity and urgency with which he bridges the personal and the political, in works that challenge us to rethink aspects of both documentary filmmaking and the immigrant experience.
Born in China
Nanfu Wang receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Filmmaking for the impact and courage of her riveting documentaries, which are lucid and unflinching in confronting the consequences of systemic oppression and corruption in China.