Israel’s prestigious Wolf Prize will honor American, German and Austrian scientists as well as an architect from Portugal this year, the Wolf Foundation announced on Wednesday.
Jared Diamond, an American-Jewish scientist and writer who wrote several bestsellers — “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” “The Third Chimpanzee,” and “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” — is one of this year’s eight winners. His books often focus on evolution and anthropology with a modern twist.
Wolf winners are considered strong contenders for Nobel prizes. In the 34 years the Wolf Foundation has granted the awards, about one out of three laureates in chemistry, physics and medicine has gone on to receive the Nobel.
Other scientists chosen this year include Rutgers Professor Joachim Messing, who specializes in genetic research among pest-resistance crops, such as corn and cotton, as well as two prominent physicists, Professor Juan Ignacio Cirac Sasturain from Spain and Austria’s Professor Peter Zoller.
The chemistry prize will be awarded to American Professor Robert Langer for his groundbreaking work on polymers and drug delivery, as well as his development of artificial leather. Langer was honored for innovations that “have had a profound impact on medicine,” a foundation statement said.
Renowned architect Eduardo Souto de Mouro from Portugal was named “to reward his advancement of the craft and ideas of architecture.”
The other prize winners are two American mathematicians, Professors George Mostow and Michael Martin.
The eight winners from four countries share $100,000 awards in each of five categories. President Shimon Peres will award the prizes in May.
The Wolf prize – named for its founder Ricardo Wolf, a Jewish-German-Cuban-Israeli inventor, diplomat, philanthropist and former Cuban ambassador to Israel — honors scientists and artists whose “achievements are in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples … irrespective of nationality, race, color, religion, sex or political views,” according to its website.
The non-profit Wolf Foundation that oversees the prize and whose activities are overseen by Israel, has honored a total of 253 scientists and artists from 23 countries to date.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.