The British science magazine’s annual selection of must-see people includes men and women who have broken new ground in the exploration of the universe, transplants, and the fight against covid-19 and climate change.
As it does every December, Nature has published its top ten science personalities of 2022. “In a year full of crises and astonishing discoveries, this year’s top 10 includes an astronomer who helped open a window to the far reaches of the universe, researchers who played a pivotal role in fighting the covid-19 pandemic and the monkeypox outbreak, and a surgeon who pushed the boundaries of organ transplantation,” says Rich Monastersky, editor-in-chief of the British journal.
Explorer of the Universe with the James Webb
This American astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, has played a key role in the launch and operation of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which offers extraordinary new possibilities for studying the universe.
The predictor of new variants of SARS-CoV-2
During the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, this genomics researcher at Peking University has helped track the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and predicted some of the mutations that are fuelling the emergence of new variants.
When he returned to China in late 2019 from the US, he hoped to further advance his PhD research on single-cell genomics. But shortly after settling into his position as a research associate at Peking University, the covid pandemic and confinement broke out.
The climate change revolutionary
This Bangladeshi climate researcher has succeeded in forcing rich countries to pay for the loss and damage of climate change.
In the final hours before the closing of last month’s UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt, exhausted delegates slumped on sofas outside the official meeting rooms. But not Saleemul Huq, who sat upright, quickly checking messages on his phone.
Ukraine’s voice on the climate crisis
The head of the Ukrainian delegation to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has strongly represented her country on the international stage and linked the current Russian invasion to humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels.
The bombings forced Krakovska to leave much of the IPCC meeting; with her husband and four children, she was making preparations to survive the war. But after three days of deliberation, and despite being “quite shy”, she decided to speak at the closing plenary session. “I was very angry,” she says.
The monkeypox watchdog
This infectious disease doctor from the Niger Delta University in Amassoma, Nigeria, provided key information to combat the monkeypox outbreak, thanks to his work on the disease in Nigeria.
Activist against persistent covid
This US researcher, who has long-standing covid, has helped raise awareness and funding for covid research as a founding member of the Patient-Led Research Collaborative.
Diana Greene Foster
This demographer at the University of California, San Francisco has provided crucial insights into the impact of the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the country’s legal ruling on abortion access.
The diplomat of crises
Among the key names in Nature’s top ten personalities, this year is also United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who the magazine says has acted as the conscience of the world, advocating for nations to deal with crises such as the invasion of Ukraine and climate change.
Xenotransplantation pioneers surgeon at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore made history by co-leading the team that transplanted the first genetically modified pig heart into a human.
A champion of open science
The sociologist took over as acting director of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy in February and has helped Joe Biden’s administration develop elements such as new guidelines on open science.