Douglas Stanford, current Member in the School of Natural Sciences, has been awarded the Breakthrough Prize's 2018 New Horizons in Physics Prize, which recognizes early-career researchers who have produced important work in fundamental physics. Stanford was cited by the prize committee for profound new insights on quantum chaos and its relation to gravity.
Former Members in the School of Natural Sciences were honored for the contributions to the field including, Christopher Hirata (2005–07) who also received a New Horizons in Physics Prize. David Spergel (1985–88, 2014) was awarded the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, which recognizes major insights into the deepest questions of the universe. Spergel shares this prize with the entire 27-member WMAP experimental team.
Additionally, Zhiwei Yun, Visitor (2009) and Member (2009–10) in the School of Mathematics, earned a New Horizons in Mathematics Prize, which honors early-career mathematicians who have produced important work in the field.
The Breakthrough Prizes, now in their sixth year, were founded by Sergey Brin, Yuri and Julia Milner, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Anne Wojcicki, and Pony Ma to recognize the contributions of the world's top scientists. Approximately 25 Institute-affliated scholars have been awarded Breakthrough Prizes since their inception including, Nima Arkani-Hamed, Jean Bourgain, Juan Maldacena, Nathan Seiberg, and Edward Witten. Laureates attend a televised awards ceremony designed to celebrate their achievements and inspire the next generation of scientists. As part of the ceremony schedule, they also engage in a program of lectures and discussions.