Akira Okubo Prize

The Akira Okubo Fund was established in memory of Akira Okubo, who made major contributions to many fields, including mathematical ecology and oceanography. Okubo was widely recognized for his scientific work, as well as for his exceptional humanity.

The award has two versions, junior and established/senior scientists, each given every four years. In the junior version, the Akira Okubo Prize honors a junior living scientist (assistant professor or equivalent position) for outstanding and innovative theoretical work, for establishing superb conceptual ideas, for solving tough theoretical problems, and/or for uniting theory and data to advance a biological subject. In the established scientist version, the Akira Okubo Prize honors a senior living scientist (associate/full professor or equivalent position) for outstanding and innovative theoretical work, for establishing superb conceptual ideas, for solving tough theoretical problems, and/or for uniting theory and data to advance a biological subject.

The following criteria are used for ranking nominations and selecting the award winner: originality (discovering a new theory and opening a new research direction), breakthrough (solving outstanding problems in the field), new synthesis (leading to a new research area), and impact already made, or expected, on subsequent studies.

The prize is jointly administered by the Society for Mathematical Biology and the Japanese Society for Mathematical Biology. The members of the Society for Mathematical Biology Awards Committee serve in the selection committee, along with three members of the Japanese Society for Mathematical Biology. The Committee chair rotates between the Society for Mathematical Biology and the Japanese Society for Mathematical Biology.

The award recipient will receive a cash award of $500 and a certificate at the award ceremony in the Annual Meeting of the Society. The Okubo Prize winner is expected to give a talk at the joint meeting of the Society for Mathematical Biology and Japanese Society for Mathematical Biology, the Society for Mathematical Biology, or the Japanese Society for Mathematical Biology annual meetings.

Recipients of the Akira Okubo Prize
2021 – Michael Savageau, University of California Davis (senior)
2019 – Naoki Masuda, University at Buffalo (junior)

The biggest change in the last two years since┬áNaoki┬áreceived the Akira Okubo Prize has been that he moved from Bristol, UK, where he was Senior Lecturer and then Associate Professor for five years, to Buffalo, USA, right after his prize talk at SMB 2019 in Montreal. He moved to the Department of Mathematics at State University of New York at Buffalo (“University at Buffalo”) in 2019 as Associate Professor and promoted to full Professor in 2021. His research interests are mathematical biology and network science, in particular intersection between the two. In mathematical biology, he works on epidemic process modeling on networks, collective animal behavior, network neuroscience, evolutionary game (and graph) theory, and very recently genomic networks.

2017 – Yoh Iwasa, Kyushu University (senior)
2015 – Joshua Plotkin, University of Pennsylvania (junior)
2013 – Nanako Shigesada, Nara Women’s University (senior)
2011 – Michio Kondoh, Ryukoku University (junior)
2009 – Hans Othmer, University of Minnesota (senior)
2007 – Fugo Takasu, Nara Women’s University (junior)
2005 – James D. Murray, University of Washington (senior)
2003 – Jonathan Sherratt, Heriot-Watt University (junior)
2001 – Simon Levin, Princeton University (senior)
1999 – Martin Nowak, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (junior)

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