Winners of World Cultural Council awards announced

Award Ceremony to be held at the University of Helsinki, Finland on November 2023

The University of Helsinki will host the 38th Annual World Cultural Council (WCC) Award Ceremony on Friday 3rd November 2023. At the event, the “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science and the “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education will be conferred on eminent pioneers honouring their tireless efforts and the inspiration they bring as role models, encouraging young generations to join forces to overcome the challenges of our society. 

This year Professor Christoph Gerber, Department of Physics and Swiss Nano Institute, University of Basel, Switzerland, has been selected as the winner of the World Cultural Council 2023 “ALBERT EINSTEIN” World Award of Science.  The prize is awarded in recognition of the fundamental nature and broad impact of his research on Nanoscale Science. 

Professor Larry V. Hedges, Board of Trustees Professor of Statistics and Education and Social Policy; Professor of Psychology; Professor of Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern University, USA has been selected as the winner of the World Cultural Council 2023 “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education.  The prize acknowledges Prof. Hedges´s groundbreaking and systematic application of research and his development of methods for meta-analysis over the past four decades which have contributed to more accurate assessment of evidence across disciplines.

The Awards will be given by the President of the WCC, Sir Fraser Stoddart, Professor Sari Lindblom, Rector of the University of Helsinki and members of our Board of Directors.

As part of the programme, laureate lectures will take place on Thursday 2nd November. For further information on the celebrations, see:  

Since 1984 the World Cultural Council a non-profit international organisation founded in Mexico has been granting annually the “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science, every second year the “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education and the “Leonardo da Vinci” World Award of Arts, recognising individuals who have made exceptional achievements in their respective fields, with the final objective of promoting tolerance, peace and fraternity, seeking to encourage the use of science, education and art to further the well-being of humanity. 


The WCC jury recognizes, Prof. Christoph Gerber’s co-invention of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and his participation in the development of the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM), both of which have enabled breakthroughs in the physical sciences including material physics, chemistry, material sciences, and beyond. The jury also notes Prof. Gerber’s continued development of (AFM) as a biochemical sensor, which has contributed significantly to the rapid progress of life sciences and has had a great and positive impact on the health and welfare of humankind. 

Finally, yet importantly, the Jury also acknowledges Prof. Christoph Gerber’s dedication to science which has extended more than 40 years and his commitment as a role model in scholarship that inspires future generations through the significant and continuous impact of his work.  


The award acknowledges Prof. Larry V. Hedges’s dedication to improving the quality of education by rigorously applying scientific evidence to formulate effective policies and innovative training methods. The jury also enthusiastically highlights that his impact extends far beyond academic boundaries—it has led to local, national, and international institutions advancing education practices, products, and programs.

Prof. Hedges’s vision of education as a vehicle to promote societal equity mirrors the commitment of José Vasconcelos, whose life work was dedicated to bringing education to all people regardless of their differences in cognitive abilities, gender, ethnicity or social class.

Winner's Achievements

Professor Christoph Gerber

Christoph Gerber was on the team, who developed the lens-less scanning tunneling microscope (STM), for which his colleagues Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. Gerber has continued to develop the technology further and has added numerous new innovations. The emergence of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) 37 years ago in the then fledgling field of nanotechnology led to a paradigm shift in the understanding and perception of matter at a fundamental level. This is illustrated by the fact that an (AFM) has already been sent to the Martian surface and another was used onboard the European Space Agency Rosetta mission to a comet to investigate stardust on the nanoscale. It seems not even the sky is the limit for (AFM) technology.

Another achievement with a tremendous impact is nanosculpting. The term refers to adding, arranging, and removing atoms to produce desired phenomena and functionality. The tip provides a versatile tool for accomplishing such control. Being able to manipulate conductors and insulators at the nanoscale has applications comparable to those of nanoscale 3D printing. Nanostructures created by force microscopy-based techniques include devices in nanomechanics, nanoelectronics, nanophotonics, nanomagnetism and quantum mechanics. 

The advantages of (AFM) have become especially significant, this includes experimenting in fluidic environments, which opens the possibility of exploring biological systems. A single molecule, such as a DNA or a protein molecule, can be suspended between the tip and surface. Lifting the tip stretches and unfolds the molecule. The measured restoring force reveals the molecule’s elastic properties and functionality. High speed (AFM) for the first time enables to visualize biological functions in real time including dynamics in the time domain of chemical reaction monitoring the cellular machinery at the nanoscale and millisecond resolution.

Complementary to imaging and control on a molecular level, Prof. Gerber and his team pioneered the development of biochemical sensors based on the in-situ detection of biological reactions by temperature and stress-sensitive cantilevers arrays. This opened new doors for medical applications in fast and early diagnostics on the genetic level with point mutation resolution. Major recent research achievements with this technology have contributed to the field of rapid medical diagnosis of conditions caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria in treatment with antibiotics and their severe complications in sepsis. The technique has the potential to play a vital role in personalized diagnosis including capturing circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the bloodstream in the field of liquid biopsies. Tailoring treatments to genetic makeup are part of the vision for precision medicine where all care is custom-fit to an individual DNA and genetic drug matching, which drugs work best for patients, what doses works best is part of Pharmacogenomics. 

In addition, the high flexibility of (AFM) to image, probe and manipulate materials with unprecedented resolution and the ability to be combined with other technologies made it the most powerful and versatile toolkit in nanoscience and nanotechnology of today. 

Developments of (AFM) technology have been on the hands of a large number of scientists across the globe, however, experts recognize that Prof. Gerber is a uniquely creative person who stands out as an originator of this breakthrough and as a leader in beginning these advancements to their full potential. 

Prof. Christoph Gerber´s work has been recognized with multiple honorary degrees and various awards and appeared in numerous articles in daily press and TV coverage. In 2001, together with the late Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Güntherodt and other researchers from the Department of Physics at the University of Basel, he was intensively involved in the creation of the National Center of Competence in Research “Nanoscale Science”. This Program led to the start of the Swiss Nano Institute SNI in 2005 where he served as a co-director for 14 years. In 2016 he received the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience together with Gerd Binnig and Calvin Quate for the Atomic Force Microscope. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the World Technology Network and a Fellow of the IOP Institute of physics, UK. He serves on the advisory boards of several nano institutes and has chaired and co-chaired various international conferences.

Professor Larry V. Hedges

For more than four decades, Larry V. Hedges has devoted his energy to four areas: statistical methods for research synthesis and meta-analysis; statistical models for memory and cognition; educational policy analysis; and group differences in cognitive abilities. His work on the synthesis of research from replicated research studies (meta-analysis) is widely viewed to have transformed the practice of systematic reviewing of research in education and psychology.

Prof. Hedges’s visionary leadership has substantially contributed to place education research in a  pivotal role in education policy. For example, in the 1980s, many studies led economists to firmly conclude that school resources did not affect educational outcomes like learning and achievement. This line of thinking implied that policies involving expanded resources to schools would make little difference to outcomes and therefore should not be considered. Hedges conducted a series of meta-analyses that engaged more rigorous methods. He showed that the very same studies that economists had used to suggest that there was no relation between resources and important educational outcomes actually showed that there was a positive relation between the two. Studies like this helped cement  Hedges’s application of meta-analysis as a crucial tool in contemporary applied statistics.

Meta-analysis, along with the rigorous systematic reviewing of it, has transformed the understanding of research evidence in education and related fields like psychology and numerous others, such as medicine, public health, and experimental ecology. Hedges’s books: Statistical Methods for Meta-Analysis, the Handbook of Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis, and his textbook Introduction to Meta-Analysis are enormously influential and highly cited. The software that he co-wrote, Comprehensive Meta-Analysis, is the most popular commercial software on the topic.

In addition to training his own students, Larry Hedges has trained hundreds of established education research professionals. He has been elected to be Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Statistical Association, and the American Psychological Association.

Augmenting his remarkable academic accomplishments, Prof. Hedges has served on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health for Diversity Programs. He also served on the first International Technical Advisory Group for PISA, and on the US National Academy of Science’s Board on International Comparative Studies in Education, which advised the U.S. Department of Education on policy for such studies.

In 2018 Prof. Hedges received the Yidan Prize for Education Research, and was named “one of the most influential applied statisticians in the world.”  He was lauded for his work in education policy which “allows policymakers, educators and the general public to see the evidence for ‘what works’ in the field of education, and makes it possible to take a scientific approach to improving education for future generations.”

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McGill University, Canada

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McGill University

You can find additional information about the event on the McGill University 2024 WCC Awards website