The 10 People Who Made A Difference In Science In 2014

The cover of Nature

The 2014 edition of Nature’s 10, the international scientific journal’s annual list of 10 people who mattered in science for the year, has been released

Helen Pearson, Nature’s chief features editor, says: “Selected after much debate and consultation by Nature’s editors, Nature’s 10 looks behind the major events and discoveries to show that, at its heart, science is a human endeavour.”

Here they are:

Andrea Accomazzo

Rosetta orbiting.

The flight director of the Rosetta mission that landed the Philae spacecraft on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko — is one of the people who earned a spot on Nature’s list. Accomazzo has spent 18 years ensuring that the Rosetta spacecraft reached the comet and dispatched Philae to its carefully selected landing spot. “It’s like climbing an 8,000-metre peak and coming back alive. You have to train a lot, and it takes years,” he says of the mission.

Radhika Nagpal

Photo courtesy of Mike Rubenstein and Science/AAAS.

Contributed to the rapid advances being made in artificial intelligence and robotics. This year, she generated troops of robots that can communicate and work together like swarming insects. Nagpal’s group t Harvard University devised a swarm of 1,024 very simple Kilobots. Each Kilobot was just a few centimetres wide and tall, moved by shuffling about on
three spindly legs and communicated with its immediate neighbours using infrared light

Sjors Scheres

An improvement of a technique known as cryo-electron microscopy, which is helping to reveal the detailed structures of vital cellular machinery.

Pete Frates

Bill Gates

The retired baseball player who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and who is credited with turning the Ice Bucket Challenge into the social-media phenomenon of the year and for drawing many people into supporting science and research unknowingly. In the two-and-a-half years since he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), 29-year-old Pete Frates has lost the ability to speak or move.

Sheik Humarr Khan

A doctor and researcher who dedicated himself to understanding and fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone, and who died from the disease in July. Khan believed that research and medicine should serve everyone — not just those able to access and afford it. He rejeted offers to make more money working in the capital, Freetown, to stay in the underserved rural region of Kenema.

Masayo Takahashi

He advanced the stem-cell field by leading the first clinical trial of cells derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. An ophthalmologist at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, Japan, Takahashi grew epithelial cells to be transplanted into the back of a woman’s damaged retina. She had made the cells from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which have been widely touted for their potential to generate genetically-matched tissue for treating a range of diseases.

Kopillil Radhakrishnan

The head of the Indian Space Research Organisation, who led India’s Mars mission and who illustrates the nation’s huge space ambitions. When India’s Mangalyaan space probe settled successfully into Mars orbit on September 24, India joined the elite group of nations with the ambition and technical capability to explore the Solar System.

David Spergel

Image: Hubble/NASA

He identified problems with the reported discovery of gravitational waves from the infant Universe.

Maryam Mirzakhani

The mathematician who became the first woman to win the prestigious Fields Medal since the prize’s inception in 1936 and in doing so highlighted the ongoing paucity of women in maths.

Suzanne Topalian

Her work has been crucial in bringing a technique known as cancer immunotherapy from lab to clinic. When she heard in July that a therapy she had helped to pioneer could now be used in the United States to treat people with advanced melanoma, she greeted the news with excitement, but also characteristic resolve. The meticulous cancer researcher and physician was already focused on the field’s next challenges: approval for the drug in other countries and against a wider range of cancers.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Tagged In