As I did last year and the year before, I will try to make predictions for the Nobel prize this year. Arguably, the past year was marked by the covid-19 outbreak and massive vaccination programmes. However, the deadline for nominations was 31 January, that is before the vaccines were approved in most countries. However, the mRNA vaccination technique is quite old now, so it may still have some chances for the biology prize. I predict Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman for the idea of using mRNA to fight diseases, leading to mRNA vaccines.

In chemistry, social media have predicted Carolyn Bertozzi for using bio-orthogonal chemistry to install artificial sugars on living cells, enabling further understanding of cancer cells. Similarly, I still think that the work of Omar M. Yaghi and Makoto Fujita on metal organic frameworks deserve a prize.

In Physics, there has been a lot of predictions for Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, Lene V. Hau, Ewine van Fleur Dishoeck and Edward Stone. However, the last 2 prizes were already awarded to astro-physicists, therefore I think that it is not time this year. Alternatively, quantum computers are still a rising field, where Michelle Simmons had seminal contribution, creating quantum electronic devices in which individual atoms control the device. I would also add Peter Shor, Gilles Brassard and Charles Benett who made important contributions to quantum-based encryption.

Finally, the team behind quantum cascade lasers may be awarded a prize this year: Frederico Capassos, Claire Gmachi, Deborah Sivco and Alfred Cho are possible contenders in this field.

As last year, here is a list of possible nominations for this year Nobel prizes:

Physics predictions

  • Michelle Simmons, for contributions to atomic-scale quantum electronic devices;
  • Peter Shor, Gilles Brassard and Charles Bennett, for their contribution to quantum-based encryption;
  • Frederico Capassos, Claire Gmachi and Deborah Sivco for quantum cascade lasers;
  • Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger, for their fundamental and experimental contributions to quantum physics and validation of Bell’s inequalities;
  • Yakir Aharonov and Michael Berry for their seminal work on the geometric phase in quantum mechanics.

Chemistry predictions

  • Carolyn Bertozzi for techniques to chemically modify molecules in living organisms;
  • Robert S. Langer for development of nanomaterials as a platform for cancer therapy;
  • Omar M. Yaghi and Makoto Fujita for MOFs and pioneering work in porous materials;
  • John Pendry and David Smith for metamaterials.

Who do you think will get it this year? Engage on twitter!