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Canadian, US Nobel prize winners and Taiwanese ex-politician among appointments to Science Academy


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I.Media - published on 08/02/21

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences has its roots in the 15th century, and today has 80 eminent scientists.

Pope Francis has appointed scientists from Canada and the United States, as well as the former Vice President of Taiwan, as ordinary members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.


Donna Strickland is a professor of optical physics at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and was one of the recipients of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics.

She and Prof. Gérard Mourou were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing chirped pulse amplification for lasers, research they published in 1985.


Susan Solomon is a lecturer in atmospheric chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of Cambridge.

She is particularly recognized for her work in the 80s and 90s, which proved the harmful effect of chlorofluorocarbons on the ozone layer.

Her work is at the basis of the United Nations’ Montreal Protocol, an international agreement signed in 1985, aimed at protecting the ozone layer. She is one of the scientists of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.


Epidemiologist Chien-Jen Chen was the Vice President of Taiwan from 2016 to 2020 and has become known for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Taiwan.

His doctorate in epidemiology is from John Hopkins University in the United States, and he now teaches this topic at the Taiwan National Research Academy.

According to the New York Times , Chien-Jen Chen visited the Holy See three times as vice president, unofficially. The Vatican is the only state in Europe that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan.


The Pontifical Academy of Sciences has its roots in the Academy of the Lynxes (Accademia dei Lincei) which was founded in Rome in 1603 as the first exclusively scientific academy in the world. The Accademia dei Lincei achieved international recognition but did not survive the death of its founder, Federico Cesi.

In 1847 Pope Pius IX reestablished the Academy as the Pontifical Academy of the New Lynxes. Pope Pius XI renewed and reconstituted the Academy in 1936, and gave it its present name. 

The Pontifical Academicians are 80 women and men from many countries who have made outstanding contributions in their fields of scientific endeavor. They are nominated by the Holy Father after being elected by the body of the Academicians.

They participate in study groups and meetings organized by the Academy and their deliberations and scientific papers are published. They assemble in the Vatican for Plenary Sessions.

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