Foreign-born Researchers + U.S. Universities = Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2013

Generations of immigrants have contributed their brainpower and creativity to the grand experiment that is the United States: born risk-takers, adventurers, and entrepreneurs, people with the vision and boldness to venture beyond the borders of everything they’ve known up to then. This has been true throughout our history, and it continues even today.

For a recent case in point, look no further than the winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, whose names were announced earlier this month. As National Public Radio pointed out, all three winners were born overseas: Martin Karplus, who now teaches at Harvard and the Université de Strausbourg, was born in Vienna, Austria; Michael Levitt, currently at Stanford Medical School, was born in Pretoria, South Africa; and Arieh Warshel, of University of Southern California, was born in Kibbutz Sde-Nahum, Israel. [See 3 Scientists Share 2013 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, by Steve Inskeep and Richard Harris, National Public Radio, Morning Edition, 09.Oct.2013; See also The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013.]

Together, they were honored for their work on “the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems,” which NPR’s Richard Harris describes as having combined two distinct approaches to physical chemistry, fusing together mathematical models to better understand how chemicals behave at both the quantum and molecular levels. According to Harris, these new methods can save time and money in the development of new medicines, allowing labs to run complex computer models of, say, how a new drug might interact with a critical enzyme, without a heavy investment in trial-and-error testing.

It’s another example of the many ways our country has been enriched – almost beyond imagining – by the ingenuity of foreign-born scientists, tech specialists, engineers, and mathematicians, not to mention the legions of immigrant entrepreneurs with the business savvy to get the latest innovations out of the lab and onto the market. When we speak of the need to attract the world’s best and brightest to our shores, this is what we mean. As we say here at the Murthy Law Firm – often and proudly – We know immigration matters! ®

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