About the Award

The James Prize in Science and Technology Integration honors outstanding contributions made by researchers who are able to adopt or adapt information or techniques from outside their fields, and thus integrate knowledge from two or more disciplines (e.g., engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, biomedicine, geosciences, astronomy, or computational sciences) to solve a major contemporary challenge not addressable from a single disciplinary perspective. The award is presented with a $50,000 prize. Nominations are being accepted now for the 2025 Prize.

Harald F. Hess, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Research Campus, received the 2023 James Prize in Science and Technology Integration. Hess’s groundbreaking work in scanning probe, optical, and electron microscopy has transformed understanding in physics and biology.

Fusing ideas from different scientific disciplines and industry, Hess’s work ranges from developing novel new forms of microscopy to refining existing microscopy technologies for the purpose of revealing new physical or biological attributes. Early in his career, Hess conceived, developed, and demonstrated forced evaporative cooling in magnetic traps, a technique later used by others to achieve Bose-Einstein condensation of atomic gases. Switching fields he developed various forms of low temperature scan probe microscopy, which enabled imaging of vortices in superconductors, electrons, and electronics states, as well as quanta of luminescence in semiconductors. The latter presented foundational observations that, in part, inspired photo-activated localization microscopy, or PALM a decade later.

2023 James Prize, Hess social

Hess advanced electron microscopy by innovating from his experience in the semiconductor and hard disk drive industry of high throughput inspection, and by applying it to biology. This enabled much larger 3D volumes of tissue to be imaged such as whole cells, extended neurons and even brain circuitry with enhancements to Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscope. He also created an interferometric version of super-resolution optical microscopy called IPALM to bring optical resolution to the level approaching that of electron microscopy. Hess’s prolific and impactful career has influenced and created new technologies that both the physics and biology community have adopted and continue to apply to advance scientific understanding.

Watch Hess’ acceptance speech.

Award History

The James Prize in Science and Technology Integration was established in 2020 and made possible through a generous donation from Robert “Bob” James, former Chairman & CEO of McCann Erickson Worldwide and former member and chair of the President’s Circle at the National Academies. The prize was created to honor scientists who work across domains and are often overlooked, since most prizes are field-specific. James believed “adapting ideas from other areas can inspire creative ways to solve problems, better, quicker, and cheaper.”

The first James Prize was awarded in 2021 to Allon Klein and Aviv Regev for their concurrent development of now widely-adopted massively-parallel single-cell genomics to interrogate the gene expression profiles that define, at the level of individual cells, the distinct cell types in metazoan tissues, their developmental trajectories, and disease states, which integrated tools from molecular biology, engineering, statistics, and computer science.

Most Recent Recipient
Harald F. Hess, 2023 James Prize in Science and Technology Integration.
Harald F. Hess
Call for Nominations

Awards will be presented in a variety of fields including biophysics, astronomy, microbiology, medical sciences, and more.

Sign up for Newsletter

Join the awards mailing list to receive updates including news, nomination details, and deadlines.


* indicates required
Award Types

Previous Award Recipients

John A. Rogers
Allon Klein and Aviv Regev