The Aspen Institute Italia Award for scientific research and cooperation between Italy and the United States was established in December 2015 in the context of the Institute’s unflagging commitment to the internationalization of leadership and to transatlantic relations.
After publication of a call for submissions, a panel of judges studies each project carefully and assigns the award each year to research in the field of natural, theoretical or applied science that is the product of collaboration between research organizations and/or scientists in Italy and in the United States.
The award is designed to consolidate the Institute’s commitment to organizing initiatives and meetings on issues associated with scientific culture and technological innovation, with a special focus on their relevance to Italy.
The winners of the Aspen Institute Italia Award’s most recent editions are:
2023 – A light-activated potassium channel for neuronal inhibition. This study demonstrates the efficacy of a new synthetic protein that, activated by blue light, can alleviate neuropathic pain. In this context, the development of synthetic proteins that respond to light is a goal of paramount importance for treating pathologies linked to the hyperexcitability of neurons, such as chronic neuropathic pain, which has so far proved difficult to treat.
2022 – The observation of radio, optical and x-ray signals has revealed the presence of a collimated astrophysical jet in material expelled by the fusion of GW170817 neutron stars. Over the coming years the observation of many other neutron star fusions in gravitational and electromagnetic waves will allow us to make enormous headway in understanding these events and their extreme physical conditions. On this new journey, the winning study will continue to be a guiding star while also, on a broader level, representing a milestone in the field of relativistic astrophysics.
2021 – Improved trade-offs of hydropower and sand connectivity by strategic dam planning in the Mekong. The hydroelectric development of large river basins is a crucial factor in the economic and social development of numerous countries. This study of the Mekong basin demonstrates that strategic dam planning can considerably reduce the impact on rivers without jeopardizing the generation of energy or the production of food.
2020 – Orbital angular momentum microlaser presents a new semiconductor laser of micrometric size that produces twisted light by exploiting an “exceptional quantum point”. This can revolutionize the current optical communications systems and allow the transmission of information at very high speed, a development required to sustain the imminent fourth industrial revolution.
2019 – A Test for Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease Using Nasal Brushings based on a simple and non-invasive test opens up encouraging prospects for the early diagnosis also of other degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body Dementia. This research will help make it possible to adopt specific treatment in a timely fashion.
2018 – The quest for forbidden crystals demonstrates the possibility of discovering new quasicrystals in nature (with chemical compositions as yet unexplored in a laboratory environment) and of extending the results achieved in this new field of research to other scientific areas and to new industrial applications.
2017 – Wind from the black hole accretion disk driving a molecular outflow in an active galaxy demonstrates the effect of wind from black holes on the formation of new stars in galaxies.
2016 – A computational modeling analysis interprets the transmission of the Ebola virus through study of the spatiotemporal spread of the 2014 outbreak in Liberia.