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BBVA Foundation hosts Frontiers of Knowledge Awards in Bilbao

- €400,000 awarded to each of 12 recipients: The eleventh annual awards recognized the works of twelve researchers and their pivotal contributions in eight categories, from rising sea levels to the discovery of the microbiome

- Hosted in Bilbao for the first time: This year marks the first time the award ceremony has been held at the Euskalduna Palace in Bilbao, capital of one of the most innovative regions in Spain and the new permanent seat of the awards

BILBAO, Spain, June 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards ceremony, hosted today at the Euskalduna Palace in Bilbao, recognized the work of 12 researchers across eight disciplines. The award recipients, including seven Americans, represent diverse fields of study including basic science, medicine and economics. The Frontiers of Knowledge Awards are the only family of global awards to also include planet-related research, such as climate change and conservation biology, at the same level as other core categories. 

BBVA Chairman Carlos Torres Vila and Basque government representatives with the 2019 Frontiers of Knowledge Award recipients.

BBVA Foundation President Carlos Torres Vila underscored the need for an increased global commitment to sustainability during his opening speech, noting that "Humanity has never had so much responsibility laid on its shoulders as it has at this moment; the steps we take today could transform our planet for all time and determine the lives of future generations."  For Torres Vila, these awards "have served to strengthen our conviction that organizations like BBVA have the duty to make the fight for sustainability a badge of our identity."

The awards are structured in line with the bank's commitment to sustainability, and the achievements of laureates and their research efforts "equip us with powerful conceptual tools and theoretical perspectives and, in essence, make us better people," according to Torres Villa. "Their example is an encouragement to act with boldness to address the challenges of this complex and fascinating period of the 21st century."

The ceremony was chaired by Carlos Torres Vila and Rosa Menéndez, chairwoman of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). The event was also attended by Íñigo Urkullu, President of the Basque Country; Juan Mari Aburto, Mayor of Bilbao; the President of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia Unai Rementeria Maiz; as well as prominent figures of Spain's academic and cultural community, including chairs of the leading scientific societies and many directors of prominent research centers.

Bilbao, the capital of knowledge

This year's award ceremony was the first to be held at the Euskalduna Palace in Bilbao, the hometown of the BBVA Group as well as the capital of one of the most innovative regions in Spain. Torres Vila expressed his gratitude to the Basque authorities for the warm welcome extended by the city to the award recipients and announced that Bilbao would be the new permanent seat of the awards. "This city and the Basque Country represent the living roots of the BBVA Group, and share with us a spirit of openness to today's global society."

The new Frontiers of Knowledge

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards were established in 2008 to recognize and encourage unique contributions that significantly broaden the scope of understanding, spawn new fields of knowledge, or result from the interaction between different disciplinary areas across science, the arts and humanities. Now in their eleventh year, the awards recognize the works of twelve researchers and their pivotal contributions to everything from rising sea levels to the discovery of the microbiome and include a €400,000 cash prize. This year's recipients are:

  • Basic Sciences: Charles Kane and Eugene Mele for discovering materials that act as both insulators and conductors at the same time. The so-called topological insulators are a new kind of material with extraordinary electronic properties that will open new scientific avenues. They could serve to develop faster, more efficient electronic devices and even advance the advent of quantum computers.
  • Biology and Biomedicine: Jeffrey Gordon for his pioneer findings in demonstrating the importance of the gut microbiome. His discoveries have allowed to demonstrate that gut microbes play a central role in conditions like obesity and diabetes.
  • Information and Communication Technologies: Ivan Sutherland for leading the transition from text-based to graphical computer displays. He also pioneered the use of graphical icons and virtual reality, and anyone who uses a computer or smartphone today benefits from the output of his research.
  • Ecology and Conservation Biology: Gretchen Daily and Georgina Mace for their visionary work in the development of essential tools to quantify "nature's value" thus facilitating science-based policies in support of the conservation of species.
  • Climate Change: Anny Cazenave, John Church and Jonathan Gregory for their research into the response of sea level to climate change. Narrowing down the causes, integrating satellite observations and innovations applied in numerical modeling have contributed to discovering that the pace at which this rise is taking place is increasing.
  • Economics, Finance and Management: Claudia Goldin for her contributions to the historical analysis of women's role in the economy. The Harvard Professor's research helped to shed light on the factors behind the gender gap.
  • Humanities and Social Sciences: Noam Chomsky for opening up new paths in multiple fields of humanities, especially in the study of the human mind and the cognitive systems that comprise it.
  • Music and Opera: John Adams for his tremendous communication skills and his determination to engage with the public. His works span every genre, but it is in opera that he has come fully into his own.

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About BBVA

BBVA Group
BBVA (BBVA) is a customer-centric global financial services group founded in 1857. The Group has a strong leadership position in the Spanish market and is the largest financial institution in Mexico. It has leading franchises in South America and the Sunbelt Region of the United States. It is also the leading shareholder in Turkey's BBVA Garanti. BBVA's purpose is to bring the age of opportunities to everyone, based on our customers' real needs: provide the best solutions, helping them make the best financial decisions, through an easy and convenient experience. The institution rests in solid values: Customer comes first, we think big and we are one team. BBVA's responsible banking model aspires to achieve a more inclusive and sustainable society.

In the U.S., BBVA is a Sunbelt-based financial institution that operates 641 branches, including 329 in Texas, 89 in Alabama, 63 in Arizona, 61 in California, 45 in Florida, 37 in Colorado and 17 in New Mexico. The bank ranks among the top 25 largest U.S. commercial banks based on deposit market share and ranks among the largest banks in Alabama (2nd), Texas (4th) and Arizona (6th). In the U.S., BBVA has been recognized as one of the leading small business lenders by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and ranked 8th nationally in terms of dollar volume of SBA loans originated in fiscal year 2018.


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