Pioneering nanotechnologist Jackie Ying, a Princeton alumna and trustee, wins the King Faisal Prize in Science

Jan. 10, 2023

Jackie Ri-Yu Ying, a pioneer in the use of nanotechnology for human health, has won the 2023 King Faisal Prize in Science for “the synthesis of various advanced nanomaterials and systems, and their applications in catalysis, energy conversion and biomedicine.”

Ying is a 1991 graduate alumna in chemical engineering and a member of Princeton’s Board of Trustees.

The King Faisal Prize was first granted in 1979 and recognizes outstanding works by individuals and institutions that “enrich human knowledge and development.” Prizes are given in five categories: Science, Medicine, Arabic Language and Literature, Islamic Studies and Service to Islam. Ying is the first woman to receive the Science prize. Each year the Prize focuses on a theme, including physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology. This year’s theme was chemistry.

Ying’s work has spanned a vast range of technological development and institutional leadership. The Prize especially highlights her work on insulin. She has led the development of a sophisticated material framework that allows insulin to be released within the body only when a patient’s blood sugar levels are high, broadening the use of oral doses and eliminating the need for external glucose monitoring. Ying has also made significant contributions to the field of catalysis, leading to advances in energy applications.

In 2003, she became the founding executive director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) in Singapore, a position she held until 2018, when she stepped down to lead the NanoBio Lab as a senior fellow at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

Ying has been recognized with dozens of major awards and honors. In 2008, she was named one of the 100 Engineers of the Modern Era by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. She won the inaugural Mustafa Prize in 2015. Ying is in The Cooper Union Hall of Fame and the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame. She is an elected member of the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders and a fellow of the German National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the U.S. National Academy of Inventors and the American Association of Arts and Sciences.

Ying was a professor of chemical engineering at the Massachusets Institute of Technology from 1992 to 2003. She studied with Jay Benziger as a Ph.D. student at Princeton.