News Release 

4 Balzan prizewinners announced today; professor Susan Trumbore wins For Earth System Dynamics

Each prize is worth CHF 750,000 (approx. EUR 695,000; USD 830,000; GBP 630,000); half of the amount must be destined by the winners to research projects

Gold Communications

Award Announcement

Press release: 14 September 2020

Milan, 14 September 2020 - The names of the 2020 Balzan Prizewinners were disclosed today:

Susan Trumbore (Germany/USA), Max Planck Institut für Biogeochemie - Jena, for Earth System Dynamics,
Jean-Marie Tarascon (France), Collège de France - Paris, for Environmental Challenges: Materials Science for Renewable Energy,
Joan Martinez Alier (Spain), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, for Environmental Challenges: Responses from the Social Sciences and the Humanities,
Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade (Brasil), Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais - Belo Horizonte, for Human Rights.

The 2020 Balzan Prizewinners were announced today in Milan by the Chairman of the Balzan General Prize Committee, Luciano Maiani, together with the President of the Balzan "Prize" Foundation, Alberto Quadrio-Curzio during a public event live streamed on

The amount of each prize is CHF 750,000 (approx. EUR 695,000; USD 830,000; GBP 630,000). Half of the amount must be destined by the winners to research projects.

The profiles of the winners and the citations were presented by renowned members of the General Prize Committee.

The Motivations:

Prize for Earth System Dynamics to Susan Trumbore:

"For her outstanding contributions to the study of the carbon cycle and its effects on climate, and for pioneering the use of radiocarbon measurements in Earth-system research".

Susan Trumbore, a US citizen, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany and Professor of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine.

Prize for Environmental Challenges: Materials Science for Renewable Energy to Jean-Marie Tarascon:

"For his exceptional contributions to basic and applied research in the field of electrochemical energy storage. For his work that led to the rapid development of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, and which improved our ability to manage electricity produced by intermittent renewable sources. For his drive in developing environmentally-friendly sodium-ion batteries".

Jean-Marie Tarascon, a French citizen, born in 1953, since 2014 Professor at the Collège de France, chair of Chemistry and Solid-State Energy.

Prize for Environmental Challenges: Responses from the Social Sciences and the Humanities to Joan Martinez Alier:

"For the quality of his contributions to the foundation of ecological economics, his path-breaking analysis of the relationships between economies and the environment, his interdisciplinary as well as comparative approach, and his active role in the promotion of environmental justice".

Joan Martinez Alier, born in Barcelona (Spain) in 1939, Professor Emeritus and Senior Researcher at the Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA) of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

Prize for Human Rights to Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade:

"For his fundamental theoretical and jurisprudential contributions to the definition and creation of a global juridical order based on the principle that all of humanity must constitute the subject of an international legal system open to individual appeals to justice and that may also be imposed upon nation-states".

Antonio Augusto Cançado Trindade, a Brazilian citizen, born in 1947, Professor Emeritus of Public Law at the University of Brasilia, since 2009 a judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

«This year the Balzan Prize has fully achieved one of its fundamental aims of integrating the most promising scholarship and research on today's most relevant issues in an interdisciplinary perspective», stated the Chairman of the General Prize Committee, Luciano Maiani. «I would like to express the Committee's great satisfaction at the choice of four illustrious prizewinners, who are distinguished not only for the depth of their insights and research, but also for the way they have always looked towards the future while working on problems that humanity faces today."

The Prizes will be conferred by the President of the Italian Republic during the awards ceremony to be held in Rome on 19 November 2020.

At the conclusion of the announcement of the 2020 Balzan Prizewinners, the Chairman of the General Prize Committee informed the public that the 2021 Balzan Prizes will be awarded in the following fields:

Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East
Microbiome in Health and Disease
Gravitation: physical and astrophysical aspects

The amount of each of the four 2021 Balzan Prizes will be CHF 750,000.

Every year, the four Balzan Prizes are awarded to scholars and scientists who are distinguished in their fields on an international level. The aim of the Balzan prizes is to foster culture, the sciences and the most outstanding humanitarian initiatives of peace and brotherhood among peoples, regardless of nationality, race or creed.

The four subject areas for the awards change every year. As stipulated in the Articles of the Balzan Foundation, they are selected from among "literature, the moral sciences, and the arts" and "the physical, mathematical and natural sciences and medicine". Rotating the subjects ensures that new or emerging research gets recognition, while at the same time it supports important fields of study that may have been overlooked by other great international awards.

Since 2001, the rules of procedure of the Foundation's General Prize Committee have stipulated that Prizewinners must destine half of the Prize to finance research projects that are preferably carried out by young scholars or scientists.


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The International Balzan Foundation, founded in 1957, operates through two separate institutions. The International Balzan Foundation "Prize" in Milan, chaired by Alberto Quadrio-Curzio, selects the subjects to be awarded and the candidates through its General Prize Committee. The Balzan Foundation "Fund" in Zurich, chaired by Gisèle Girgis-Musy, administers the estate left by Eugenio Balzan, so as to place at the disposal of the International Balzan Foundation "Prize" the financial means necessary to realize its objective.

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