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Yangyang Cheng
19 December 2017

Yangyang Cheng is the 2017 Leonard M. Rieser Award Winner

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has named Yangyang Cheng its 2017 Leonard M. Rieser Award recipient for her April 22 essay “Let science be science again.”

The Rieser Award was established in 2015 to recognize outstanding emerging science and security experts who are passionate about connecting scientific research to policy outcomes. The winner of the award is selected by the Bulletin’s editorial team from among our Voices of Tomorrow essayists--new authors and rising experts who write with distinction about at least one of the Bulletin's core issues: nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies. Previous recipients can be found here.

In her award-winning piece, Cheng advocates for scientists to engage the political process and defend the advancement of science. She argued passionately for scientists to join the April 2017 March for Science, using her own experience as a call to action.

I am the great-granddaughter of women with bound feet, for whom learning to read was a revolutionary act. I am a particle physicist at an Ivy League institution, working on the most powerful particle accelerator in the world. On April 22, I will be marching for science, for the promise of science as the great equalizer, for what it has been to me, and for what it can still be to many—to the privileged and the marginalized, to all.”

The Bulletin proudly supported the March as well.

In selecting Cheng’s submission, editor-in-chief John Mecklin said, “Yangyang Cheng has such a wide-ranging intellect and inexhaustible reservoirs of energy that sometimes I wonder whether she is more than one person. In 2017, beyond her research roles at Cornell University and the Large Hadron Collider, she wrote two finely crafted and passionate articles for the Bulletin about scientists’ responsibilities to society, one of which was subsequently adapted for use in Teen Vogue. She followed up later in 2017 with a brilliant piece for Foreign Policy magazine that explores challenges to scientific freedom at a proposed next-generation subatomic supercollider in China. She regularly advocates on Capitol Hill for the US high energy physics community and is exactly the type of charismatic emerging leader the Rieser Award was created to encourage.”

The Rieser Award is the capstone of our Next Generation Program, created to ensure that new voices, steeped in science and public policy, have a trusted platform from which to address existential challenges. It is named for Leonard M. Rieser (1922-1998), board chair at the Bulletin from 1984 until his death in 1998. More about the award and Leonard M. Rieser can be found here.

Upon learning of the Bulletin’s selection of the 2017 Rieser Award recipient, George Lopez, a close friend of Rieser and the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Professor Emeritus of Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, stated that Cheng well-represents Rieser’s hope for the next generation: “Leonard would have been very pleased.” 

The recipient of the Rieser Award receives $1,000 and an annual subscription to the Bulletin’s digital journal.

To support to the Bulletin's Next Generation programs--visit our gift page and choose "Next Generation" from the drop-down menu.


Visit thebulletin.org for more information.