A Third of U.S. Nobel Prize Winners in Chemistry, Medicine, Physics Are Immigrants: Report

Nation/World
The laureate medal featuring the portrait of Alfred Nobel is seen on a sign before the Nobel Committee announced the 2015 winners on Oct. 5, 2015, in Stockholm, Sweden.(Credit: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

The laureate medal featuring the portrait of Alfred Nobel is seen on a sign before the Nobel Committee announced the 2015 winners on Oct. 5, 2015, in Stockholm, Sweden.(Credit: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

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They live in different places, work at different universities and dedicate their careers to studying different topics. But there’s one thing at least four of this year’s US Nobel Prize laureates share.

They’re immigrants.

That’s in keeping with a long-running trend, according to a recent report from the National Foundation for American Policy. Immigrants have won 38% of the Nobel Prizes awarded to Americans in chemistry, medicine and physics since 2000, and 35% of the Nobel Prizes awarded to Americans in those fields since 1901, the foundation says.

This year, French-born Esther Duflo and Indian-born Abhijit Banerjee — both professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, were among three recipients of the Nobel Prize in economics. UK-born M. Stanley Whittingham, a professor at Binghamton University in New York, was one of three awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry. And Canadian-born James Peebles, a professor at Princeton University, was one of three recipients of the Nobel Prize in physics.

“These achievements by immigrants point to the gains to America of welcoming talent from across the globe,” the foundation’s report notes. “The findings do not mean America should welcome only Nobel Prize winners. Such a policy would be quite restrictive.”

In light of growing US immigration restrictions, it’s unclear whether the trend will continue, the foundation’s executive director said in a Forbes column detailing his organization’s findings.

“Immigrants will continue to win Nobel Prizes in scientific fields,” Stuart Anderson wrote. “However, they may not win them in America.”

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