Dairy Queen & Physicist Among 2015 Nikkei Asia Prize Winners

Vietnamese diary industry leader Mai Kieu Lien and Chinese physicist Wang Yifang have won this year’s Nikkei Asia Prizes for business innovation and science & technology, respectively.

AsianScientist (May 21, 2012) – Now into its 20th year, the 2015 Nikkei Asia Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation has been awarded to Professor Wang Yifang, director of the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Ms. Mai Kieu Lien, chairwoman and CEO of Vietnam Dairy Products (Vinamilk), won the Award in the economics and business innovation category, while Mr. Richard Pontzious, artistic director and conductor of the Asian Youth Orchestra, was recognized for his contributions to culture.

Wang, who is said to be China’s leading candidate for a Nobel Prize, has been conducting research aimed at solving one of the last remaining mysteries about neutrinos, a type of subatomic particle.

“My work is about fundamental particles,” the professor began his acceptance speech. “We now understand that our world is made up by only 12 types of elementary particles. Among them, three are neutrinos.”

His research pursued the third and final neutrino oscillation, theta-13, which is yet to be known.

In March 2012, just two and a half months from the start of the experiment, his team announced the first results, concluding with very high confidence, that a new type of neutrino oscillation represented by theta-13, does exist.

“The result shocked the [scientific] community since it came unexpectedly fast,” he said.

Lien, the only Vietnamese manager to make the Forbes “Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen” list has been credited with building up Vietnam’s dairy industry, which until a few years ago was almost nonexistent. In 1990, annual milk consumption was just half a liter. In 2006, Vinamilk launched the country’s first large-scale dairy farm and now the company is Vietnam’s largest food producer. It is also branching out internationally.

Lien has decided to donate her 3 million yen (~US$24,816) prize money to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide relief for children in Nepal following the recent major earthquakes.

“It is my personal desire as well as Vinamilk’s business culture to do our best for a better future for children in Vietnam and around the world,” said Lien in her acceptance speech at the Imperial Hotel.

The Nikkei Asia Prizes were created in 1996 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Nikkei Inc.’s main Japanese-language newspaper, The Nikkei. Past winners include Professor Yuan Longping, China’s father of hybrid rice (1996); Dr. Manmohan Singh, then-member of parliament and later prime minister of India (1997); and Dr. Muhammad Yunus, managing director of Grameen Bank (2004), who went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.


Source: Nikkei Asia Prizes.
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