Few honors attract as much excitement in the world of science as the Nobel Prizes.
Each year, media company Thomson Reuters releases its annual list of the researchers it thinks are most likely to win the prize in physiology or medicine, chemistry, physics, and economics.
So far, they’ve been pretty spot on: Since 2002, they’ve accurately forecast 37 Nobel Prize winners. The 2015 Nobel Laureates will be announced between October 5 and 12.
And this year, a higher-than-usual number of the potential laureates are women.
Thomson Reuters bases its predictions on which scientific studies had the greatest number of citations, or mentions by other studies.
Here are the scientists they’ve named as being in the running this year.
- K. SUTLIFF/ SCIENCE
- Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna were selected as potential chemistry winners for developing a method to edit genes known as CRISPR/Cas9 (illustrated above). The technique holds potential to cure deadly genetic diseases, but it’s also raised some major ethical concerns. John B. Goodenough and M. Stanley Whittingham were highlighted as possible chemistry winners for laying the foundations for the development of the lithium-ion battery, the same battery that powers your laptop. Carolyn R. Bertozzi was selected for a possible Nobel in chemistry for making major contributions to bioorthogonal chemistry – the study of chemical reactions that can happen inside cells without disturbing what goes on naturally inside them.
- Public domain
- Deborah S. Jin might win a physics Nobel for pioneering work on atomic gases at super-cold temperatures. They created the first zero-viscosity fluid, or superfluid (like the helium superfluid above), formed by subatomic particles called fermions at low temperatures. Paul B. Corkum and Ferenc Krausz might win a physics Nobel for helping us understand the physics that happens at the scale of one quintillionth of a second, known as attosecond physics. Zhong Lin Wang was chosen as a potential Nobel winner in physics for inventing tiny generators that produce electricity from pressure (known as piezotronic generators). These nanogenerators could be used to power sensors, or wearable devices powered by the human body.
Physiology or medicine
- Jeffrey I. Gordon was selected as a possible Nobel winner for medicine for demonstrating how the microbes that live in our gut (such as the E. coli shown above) have major impacts on our overall health, from our metabolisms to our physiology. Kazutoshi Mori and Peter Walter were selected as potential medicine Nobel winners for independently figuring out how our cells find and fix “unfolded” proteins in a part of the cell called the endoplasmic reticulum, a network of membranes that can be found throughout the cell and are connected to its powerhouse, the nucleus. Alexander Y. Rudensky, Shimon Sakaguchi, and Ethan M. Shevach could win Nobels in medicine for discovering how immune cells called regulatory T cells and a protein called Foxp3 work.