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This year’s Nobel Prize winners were immigrants, international students

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Syukuro Manabe headed to the US to work as a research meteorologist and he joined the Princeton University faculty in 1968. Source: Mark Makela/AFP

Immigrants are not only contributors to the US economy but also to the world. In 2021, they continued their winning streak of the Nobel Prize, the most prestigious of all awards, given to those whose efforts are improving humanity.

Three in four of the American winners this year have an immigrant tale to share besides their scientific achievement. Below we take a look at this year’s winners and their journey abroad.

Nobel Prize in Physics 

The three winners and immigrants to the US who won a Nobel Prize this year in physics, chemistry and medicine each have their own journey to the US. After earning his PhD from the University of Tokyo, Syukuro Manabe headed to the US to work as a research meteorologist and he joined the Princeton University faculty in 1968. 

Manabe along with Klaus Hasselmann from Germany shared the Nobel Prize for physics this year. They received the prestigious recognition for their “physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming.” Giorgio Parisi, an Italian, also received half of this physics award.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

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David MacMillan (centre), born and raised in Scotland, arrived in the US as an international student. Source: Kena Betancur/AFP

David MacMillan, born and raised in Scotland, arrived in the US as an international student. He went on to pursue his PhD at the University of California-Irvine. Currently, he’s a professor of chemistry at Princeton University and shared this year’s Nobel Prize with Benjamin List for their coal research in Germany.

Nobel Prize in Medicine

Dr. Ardem Patapoutian, who immigrated from Lebanon, shared this year’s prize with David Julius. Their groundbreaking research solved the mystery of how the body senses touch and other mechanical stimuli. 

Of Armenian origin, Dr. Patapoutian was raised in Lebanon during the civil war. There, he attended the American University of Beirut as a pre-med major but the conflict continued and one morning, he was held hostage by armed militants. 

He then fled to the US with his brother at the mere age of 18 and has since overcome several obstacles. For one year, he was working as a pizza delivery boy and writing weekly horoscopes for a newspaper. The turning point for Dr. Patapoutian was when he finally gained admission to UCLA.