Contact Russell Hemley at, 202-478-8951; or Dave Mao at

For images, contact Tina McDowell,, 202-939-1120


Washington, D.C. – Russell Hemley and Ho-kwang (Dave) Mao of the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory have won the Balzan Prize for 2005 in mineral physics. The announcement was made this week by the International Balzan Foundation.

Hemley and Mao lead a world-renowned high-pressure physics team. They subject matter to intense pressure and temperature conditions and have discovered previously unknown fundamental properties and structures of matter, while creating entirely new substances along the way. Their work has shed light on the conditions in planetary interiors and has advanced materials science. They are in the forefront of advances in their field by developing novel methods, techniques, and instrumentation.

The prize committee recognized them “for the impressive impact of their joint work leading to fundamental breakthroughs…They have operated as a highly effective team, characterized by twenty years of research contributions at the highest level.” “Rus Hemley and Dave Mao truly deserve this award, ” commented Carnegie president Richard A. Meserve. “They lead the world in experimental high-pressure physics and are a fine example of the Carnegie’s efforts to free exceptional individuals to pursue novel scientific approaches.”

The Balzan prize is awarded to scientists, artists, and institutions for outstanding achievements in humanities, social sciences, physics, mathematics, natural sciences, and medicine. The prize committee rotates the fields to receive the awards from year to year. The prizes in science this year were in population biology and mineral physics. Hemley and Mao were awarded 1,000,000 Swiss Francs (about $800,000), half of which will be devoted to projects involving young researchers. The prize award ceremony will take place on November 11, 2005, in the Swiss Houses of Parliament in Berne.

The International Balzan Foundation was established in 1956 by Angela Lina Balzan in memory of her father, Eugenio, a co-publisher of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. The foundation promotes excellence in science, culture, and promoting peace. One hundred six recipients have received prizes since 1961. See for more information.

Dr. Hemley's acceptance speech (PDF 40KB) is also available.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington ( has been a pioneering force in basic scientific research since 1902. It is a private, nonprofit organization with six research departments throughout the U.S. Carnegie scientists are leaders in plant biology, developmental biology, astronomy, materials science, global ecology, and Earth and planetary science.

News Topic: 
High Pressure Physics
Materials Science