An Imperial physicist has become one of the first people from the UK to win the Blavatnik Awards, which recognise outstanding young scientists under the age of 42.

Dr Claudia de Rham was awarded the Finalist title in the Awards’ Physical Sciences & Engineering category, in the first year the awards have been open to entrants from the UK. She will receive a $30,000 cash prize and a medal in a ceremony to be held this spring.

Dr de Rham thanked the Blavatnik Foundation, which established the awards in 2007, for the “huge honour” of winning the prize. She said: “My area of research is theoretical physics with an emphasis on gravity and cosmology. Our findings are always more of a fundamental nature, with little prospect of practical applications.

“Dr de Rham said winning the prize was a ‘huge honour’”

“I am therefore delighted to see this fundamental research being recognised within the physical sciences and engineering community, as I believe it is essential for the development of society.” The Blavatnik Awards’ citation for Dr de Rham’s work said: “It [Dr de Rham’s research] has revolutionised our understanding of the nature of gravity, founding a new field of study that connects cosmology with particle physics and the nature of spacetime itself.”

Dr de Rham credits her work to collaborators, giving particular thanks to Dr Andrew Tolley at Imperial’s physics department and Professor Gregory Gabadadze at New York University for their teamwork.

“Collaboration and sharing ideas is the single most important aspect of our research,” said Dr de Rham. She added: “I will use this prize to continue nurturing my existing collaborations as well as foster further collaborations with young scientists worldwide.”