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Current News

Current News Vilcek Dropdown Arrows

Vilcek Foundation to Be Honored by Theatre Communications Group

The Vilcek Foundation will be honored at the Theatre Communications Group’s annual fall gala, for its efforts in promoting immigrant theatre-makers over the last year.

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"A Stray" brings an immigrant community to the big screen

Musa Syeed knows immigrant stories. A first-generation American himself, the filmmaker has written and directed several films based in immigrant communities around the U.S.

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Vilcek Foundation Lends Paintings to Georgia O’Keeffe Retrospective at Tate Modern

Three works from the Vilcek Foundation Art Collection are currently on display at the Tate Modern, London, as part of the recently opened exhibition Georgia O’Keeffe.

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Immigrant scientists lead the way in STEM

Last fall, we tracked the extent of foreign-born contributions to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields with our “Immigrant Nation, American Success” infographics series.

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Meet the 2017 Creative Promise Prize Applicants

Meet the applicants for the 2017 Creative Promise Prizes! An astounding 465 fine artists and biomedical researchers responded to our annual call, breaking a record for the number of applications submitted.

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Exhibition Spotlight: Mezcala Models at the Met

Two Mezcala architectural models from the Vilcek Foundation collection are currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition "Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas."

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Meet the Consultant: Curator Deborah Cullen

To shape the upcoming 2017 Vilcek Prizes for Fine Arts, we enlisted the help of curator Deborah Cullen. Drawing on her experience working with immigrant and emerging artists, Deborah helped us set the parameters for the prizes, and recommended jurors, specialists in the arts with expertise in various media and specialties.

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"Love and Science" at the New York Public Library

In celebration of New York City’s Immigrant Heritage Week, our president and co-founder Jan Vilcek read from his memoir, "Love and Science," at the Mid-Manhattan Library last week.

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Immigrant Achievements in Science and Theatre Celebrated at 2016 Vilcek Prize Ceremony

On April 5, leaders in scientific research and dramatic performance gathered at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City to honor the winners of the 2016 Vilcek Prizes. The awards, which have been given annually since 2006, recognize the contributions of immigrants in biomedical science and the arts, this year commending accomplishments in theatre.

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The Vilcek Prize: An Evolving Design of Typography and Innovation

The Vilcek Foundation believes that immigrant contributions are invaluable to advancing American arts, sciences, and culture. The Vilcek Prizes were created in 2006 to pay tribute to individuals whose accomplishments embody this belief.

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Dan Littman: A Pioneer in Immunology

Dan Littman has been an explorer since childhood. A prominent immunologist at NYU’s Skirball Institute and an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Dan was born in Bucharest when Romania was a part of the Soviet bloc.

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Sarah Benson: Cultural Dislocation in Theatre

As an immigrant from the United Kingdom, Sarah Benson understands cultural dislocation: “There wasn’t a language barrier,” she says, “but there was a completely different set of cultural assumptions.

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Roberta Capp: Humanizing Health Care

“Health care is a business, but people are not iPads,” says Roberta Capp, one of the 2016 winners of the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise. “So how do you put that human aspect back into the health care business?”

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Desdemona Chiang: The Lost Generation

“A good friend of mine and I like to say—kind of jokingly, but kind of not—that there is a lost generation of Asian American artists between the ages of 30 and 45, because of social patterns, immigration patterns, because of a clash between old-world values and new-world values,” says Desdemona Chiang.

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Now Open: 2017 Creative Promise Prize Applications

The Vilcek Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2017 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise! For this cycle, prizes will be awarded in the fields of biomedical science and fine arts.

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Houra Merrikh: Conflicts and Collisions

“When you’re an immigrant, the problems you face are unusual ones, so you have to come up with creative solutions,” says Houra Merrikh, winner of a 2016 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise. “That principle influences what I do.”

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Yi Zhao: Sculpting light itself

There’s a quote that lighting designer Yi Zhao is fond of: “99% of the audience does not notice lighting, but 100% of the audience is affected by it.”

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Fernando Camargo and the scientific currency

Fernando Camargo doesn’t believe in comfort zones. “Whenever I have people starting in my lab, I tell them that they need to think of new biological questions, as opposed to just pursuing what others have started,” he says.

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From Refugee to Philanthropist: Jan Vilcek Tells It All

Love and Science, a memoir by our president and co-founder Jan Vilcek, hits bookshelves today! Published by Seven Stories Press, Jan tells two intertwined stories: The first an illuminating tale of scientific discovery, and the second, a story of fate and daring that would lead to his immigration to America.

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Blanka Zizka: Danger, dissent, and theatre

When Blanka Zizka defected from Czechoslovakia, 21 years old and pregnant, she had no idea where she would end up—all she knew was that she would pursue her love of theatre.

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A Standing Ovation for the 2016 Vilcek Prizewinners

The Vilcek Prizes, presented annually to immigrants who have made outstanding contributions to their fields, are this year awarded in biomedical science and theatre.

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An exciting 2015 for our Vilcek Foundation alumni

Happy New Year from everyone at the Vilcek Foundation! In the last 12 months, our alumni have helped treat Ebola, released award-winning films, and shared their knowledge through TED Talks—and that’s just the beginning.

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Meet our newest board member: Titia de Lange

We’re pleased to welcome to Dr. Titia de Lange to the Vilcek Foundation’s board of directors!

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Zoë Bell: If He Was a She

Zoë Bell has been on-screen countless times, although you might not have known it was her. The New Zealand-born actress and producer started her career as a stunt double for Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess, where her training in gymnastics and martial arts allowed her to perform the kicks, flips, and other moves that helped turn the television show into a popular hit.

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Benson Lee: A director does some Seoul Searching

Like many immigrants, Benson Lee’s parents arrived in their new country with no jobs and few friends. They had decided to leave Seoul, where Benson’s father was a patternmaker for women’s clothing, for Toronto, where finding a job was difficult.

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New American Filmmakers Go into the Classroom

Delegates from the New American Filmmakers program visited classrooms in Oahu to talk with young aspiring filmmakers last week.

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Shonali Bose: Activism, with a Film

While Shonali is driven by political activism, her movies remain personal and heartfelt. Margarita, with a Straw was inspired by her cousin Mali, who has cerebral palsy.

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Gabrielle Demeestere: A Novel Approach

Gabrielle Demeestere was born and raised in France, and her filmmaking is definitely informed by French culture. As with most Parisians, she has always been a vociferous consumer of films.

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Dai Sil Kim-Gibson: There’s No Place Like Home

For Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, as it is for many immigrants, the definition of “home” was not a straightforward one.

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Aloha from the Hawaii International Film Festival!

Once again, the Vilcek Foundation is pleased to present the annual New American Filmmakers showcase at the Hawaii International Film Festival! NAF presents the best independent films from immigrant artists in American cinema, representing an exciting mix of genres and influences from around the world.

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Fresh on the Screen: Immigrants take the prime time

Immigrants have always been an integral part of the American film and television industry.

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Marica Vilcek Becomes Board Chair of the NYU Institute of Fine Arts

Earlier this month, our vice president and co-founder Marica Vilcek became the new chair of the Institute of Fine Arts Board of Trustees at New York University. She follows in the footsteps of previous chairs Judy Steinhardt and Stephen Lash.

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Going Home: Pen + Brush Reopens with “Domesticity Revisited”

Pen + Brush, a organization that addresses gender-based inequality in art and literature, will celebrate the grand opening of its new headquarters and gallery space with Domesticity Revisited, an exhibition curated by our own executive director, Rick Kinsel.

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Masterworks of American Modernism has finally reached New Mexico!

From New York to New Mexico: Masterworks of American Modernism from the Vilcek Foundation Collection is making its final stop on a tour across the United States.

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Immigrant Nation, American Success: Entrepreneurs and the Economy

Happy National Welcoming Week! Our last infographic falls during a weeklong celebration of immigrant contributions, and we can’t think of a better way to conclude our “Immigrant Nation, American Success” series.

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Immigrant Nation, American Success: Achievements in STEM

Admittedly, we’re a little crazy about prizes. Our own Vilcek Prizes are bestowed annually upon iconic immigrant artists and brilliant foreign-born scientists. Even when we examined prizes not devoted to immigrants, however, foreign-born scientists still made a strong showing across the board.

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Immigrant Nation, American Success: PhDs and Patents

We’ve always believed that immigrants are vital to American progress, but now we’ve got the numbers to back it up!

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“Through the Looking Glass” goes through the roof

Attendance numbers for "China: Through the Looking Glass" are set to go through the roof. Curated by British-born Andrew Bolton, who received the Vilcek Prize in Fashion earlier this year, the popular exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art received over 635,000 visitors as of mid-August.

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From Erhu to Electro: Jing Wang Scores Residency at the MacDowell Colony

“The older generation in China still considers the erhu the sound of the native land,” says Chinese-born composer and musician Jing Wang — while in the U.S., the erhu is “a symbolic representation of Chinese music.” However, thanks to Jing, an innovator in the electroacoustic field, the folk instrument is getting a remake with her smart and original compositions that mix tradition with modern electronic sound.

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KEXP curates performances by immigrant musicians

"Immigrant Songs," a new video and radio series produced by KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle, in partnership with the Vilcek Foundation, searches for the diverse sounds of the immigrant experience.

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Grantee Spotlight: ProjectArt

Adarsh Alphons founded ProjectArt in 2011 with a simple goal: “to put paintbrushes in the hands of as many children that don’t have adequate access to arts education [as possible].”

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Vilcek Prizewinners for Creative Promise Named “Great Immigrants”

Frequent readers of the current news section are no doubt already aware that the winners of the Vilcek Prizes are truly great immigrants. Fittingly, the Carnegie Corporation has made it official for many of our prizewinners.

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“From New York to New Mexico” Lands in Phoenix

From New York to New Mexico Masterworks of American Modernism from the Vilcek Foundation Collection kicked off the second leg of its journey at Phoenix Art Museum with a members’ opening on June 4.

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Raking in the Recognitions: Immigrants in the Sciences

The 2015 Vilcek Prize season may have ended, but immigrants are still raking in the recognitions. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute just announced the 2015 HHMI investigators, a prestigious honor that provides generous funding to biomedical researchers over five years.

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Grantee Spotlight: New York African Film Festival

In honor of the United Nation’s International Decade for People of African Descent, starting this year and running through 2024, the New York African Film Festival dedicated this year’s focus to stories of “displacement, emigration, and personal journeys.”

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Grantee Spotlight: CodeNow

Since 2011, CodeNow has been working to expand access to education and training for careers in technology. The organization offers free workshops in computer programming to high school students, with an emphasis on reaching individuals who might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about computer science.

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The 2015 Vilcek Foundation Prizes Gala

Fashion and science mingled in more ways than one on April 2, 2015. Leaders in both fields gathered at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City to celebrate the winners of the 2015 Vilcek Prizes, recognizing immigrants in fashion and biomedical science.

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Applications open for the 2016 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Theatre and Biomedical Science

Applications are now open for the 2016 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise! The eighth annual Creative Promise Prizes will be awarded in the fields of theatre and biomedical science. Three selected winners in each field will receive a $50,000 cash award.

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Vilcek Prizewinner Spotlight: Peter Walter

German-born Peter Walter is interested in how things work. This has long been the focus of his research at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, where he is a professor in the departments of biochemistry and biophysics, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

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Vilcek Prizewinner Spotlight: Tuyen Tran

Unlike many aspiring designers, Vietnamese-born Tuyen Tran was first drawn to fashion through her interest in the complex, technical processes that go into the construction of garments. She enrolled in a fashion design course offered by the theater department of her high school in Twin Falls, Idaho, but found that it was “not accurate,” she says. “You would learn to use a hot glue gun here, a staple there.”

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Vilcek Prizewinner Spotlight: Rob Knight

According to New Zealand-born Rob Knight, scientific endeavors in his native country tend to gravitate toward applied research, especially around agriculturally important issues. “I think that’s possibly what led me to be more open to the idea of applied topics,” he says.

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Vilcek Prizewinner Spotlight: Natallia Pilipenka

Designer Natallia Pilipenka was born in Ukraine and raised in Belarus before she moved to New York in her twenties. She does not, however, feel particularly Ukrainian, Belarusian, or American; rather, she sees herself as a combination of all her experiences.

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Vilcek Prizewinner Spotlight: Sun Hur

South Korean-born Sun Hur has been on a lifelong quest to apply theory to reality, order to chaos. It is a quest that has brought her from painting to physics, physics to computational chemistry, and from there, to structural biology, biochemistry, and finally, immunology.

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Vilcek Prizewinner Spotlight: Siki Im

Designer Siki Im believes he is who he is today because of his parents. His parents emigrated from South Korea to Germany on work visas; his father was a chemist, and his mother was a nurse. And although they did not work in the arts, “they didn’t say no,” Siki says. “They let me try things out. I think that was the biggest blessing.”

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Vilcek Prizewinner Spotlight: Franziska Michor

When the stakes are life and death, as they so often are with cancer, one would hope for a rigorous analysis of all available options. Until recently, this was not the case with the disease. That’s where Austrian-born Franziska Michor comes in. Franziska is a professor of computational biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health.

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From New York to New Mexico: Masterworks of American Modernism from the Vilcek Foundation Collection to open at Philbrook Museum of Art

A selection of 65 works from the Vilcek Collection are going on a three-stop cross-country tour. From New York to New Mexico: Masterworks of American Modernism from the Vilcek Foundation Collection will open on February 8, 2015, at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Vilcek Prizewinner Spotlight: Andrew Bolton

To hear his praises sung is to believe that Andrew Bolton elevated fashion from a commercial enterprise to an integral field of the arts; they are not without merit. Prior to assuming the role of curator at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2006, there were murmured doubts about the legitimacy of fashion as an art form amongst critics and curators. Thanks to Andrew’s academic rigor and anthropological curiosity, the Costume Institute is now one of the most popular and well-respected departments at the museum.

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Announcing the 2015 Vilcek Prizewinners

It’s awards season again! While Los Angeles is gearing up for the Oscars and the Grammys, we’re pleased to present the 9th annual Vilcek Prizes, honoring notable immigrants in the arts and sciences.

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Grantee Spotlight: New York Youth Symphony

Now in its 52nd season, the New York Youth Symphony (NYYS) has been providing music education and performance opportunities to teenage and college-aged students in the tristate area for over 50 years.

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Rick Kinsel becomes a Visual Arts Curator

Executive Director Rick Kinsel is honored to serve as a visual arts curator for Pen and Brush, supporting the launch of the 120 year-old organization’s new programming.

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Antoine de Cazotte: NAF Featured Filmmaker

Antoine de Cazotte credits his success as a filmmaker to moving from his native Paris to America. “Coming to America was the smartest thing I’ve done in my life,” says Antoine. “You have to be in movement; if you’re still, nothing is going to happen.”

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Ana Lily Amirpour: A Girl Who Walks on Her Own

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night has been hailed as the “first feminist Iranian vampire Western film in history”, and it shows. The debut feature film of Ana Lily Amirpour, born in the UK to Iranian parents, is set in the fictional Bad City.

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Farzad Sangari: 10 points to Mudbloods

Quidditch may have originated from the fictional world of Harry Potter, but as a collegiate sport, it’s as real as it gets. Iranian-born Farzad Sangari’s documentary, Mudbloods, takes us into the world of muggle Quidditch as it follows the UCLA Bruins team to the 5th Annual World Cup in New York.

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New American Filmmakers in the Classroom

The New American Filmmakers program was pleased to bring delegates into local Hawaiian classrooms as a part of the Hawaii International Film Festival’s Guest Filmmaker Program.

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Minh Nguyen-Vo: A Return to Cinema

Growing up in South Vietnam, Minh Nguyễn-Võ was captivated by cinema from an early age. Minh followed other scientific endeavors to France and later the United States, becoming an accomplished physicist working in research and development.

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Ken Ochiai: Taking Up the Sword

Uzumasa Limelight is a work of love. The second feature film of Japanese-born Ken Ochiai, it focuses on the lives of kirare yaku, screen extras from the golden age of samurai epics who specialize in portraying theatrical deaths.

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Ayako Fujitani: International Woman of Mystery

In her latest film, Man from Reno, the multilingual and multitalented actress Ayako Fujitani plays a writer who suddenly leaves Japan for San Francisco in the midst of a publicity tour. Perhaps she was drawing upon her own teenaged years.

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A Sneak Peek at the 2014 New American Filmmakers

Aloha! The Hawaii International Film Festival is just around the corner, marking the eighth year that the Vilcek Foundation has partnered with the festival to present the New Americans Filmmakers (NAF) program.

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Iranian-born Pardis Sabeti leads the race against Ebola

Long before the first case of Ebola was confirmed in the current outbreak, biologist Pardis Sabeti and her colleagues suspected that infectious diseases were already circulating, undetected. Pardis, an associate professor at Harvard University and winner of the 2014 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, had been working closely with the Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) in Sierra Leone to track and study another deadly hemorrhagic disease, Lassa fever, and Pardis was acutely aware of how difficult it would be to establish biologically secure environments to treat and control outbreaks of infectious diseases.

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I Learn America: Film Screenings and Community Conversations in Three Cities

"I Learn America: One High School, One School Year, Five New Americans," is a documentary that follows five immigrant teenagers over the course of one year as they strive to master English, adapt to families they haven’t seen in years, confront universal trials of adolescence, and search for a future they can claim as their own. French-born director Jean-Michel Dissard has ignited a national dialogue on immigration from New York to Honolulu through the film.

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Congrats to the 2014 Blavatnik Awardees!

In further evidence of immigrant successes in the STEM fields, foreign-born scientists accounted for a large percentage of the recently announced Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists.

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The Grand Design

On June 19, the Vilcek Foundation was pleased to partner with the Museum of Arts and Design to present “The Grand Design.” Hosted in The Theater at MAD, three winners of the 2014 Vilcek Prizes for Design — Neri Oxman, Mansour Ourasanah, and Quilian Riano — presented their works in a panel moderated by Glenn Adamson, Nanette L. Laitman Director at MAD.

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A Look at the 2015 Creative Promise Prize Applicants

The seventh annual call for Creative Promise Prize applications was open to professionals in the fields of biomedical science, and for the first time in arts — fashion. Two-hundred and fifty four scientists and fashion professionals answered the call, representing diverse fields in each respective industry and hailing from eighty different countries.

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Immigrants Win Big: Announcing the 2014 Simons Foundation Investigators and Fields Medalists

It’s been a tremendous couple of weeks for immigrants in the math and sciences! First, the 2014 Simons Foundation Investigators were announced on August 13. Of the 16 scientists and mathematicians selected for the prestigious five-year awards, 15 are based in the United States, and 12 are immigrants—that’s a whopping 75% of this year’s awardees!

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Marsden Hartley goes West!

The exhibition Marsden Hartley: The German Paintings 1913–1915, which opened in April at the Neue Nationalegalerie in Berlin, is now on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art! The show marks the California debut of “Portrait Arrangement No. 2,” 1912–13, and “Berlin Series No. 1,” 1913, from the Vilcek Collection.

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Grantee Spotlight: Lutheran Social Services of New York

For almost twenty years, the Immigration Legal Services Program of Lutheran Social Services of New York (LSSNY-ILP) has been providing professional legal services to thousands of clients across the five boroughs of New York City, regardless of religious affiliation. The program offers free or low-cost legal immigration services to clients from over one hundred countries, as well as connecting clients to services that help them become self-sufficient in their new communities.

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Vilcek Foundation Collections Expand with Pre-Columbian Artworks

Last spring, we launched an exciting new initiative by publishing three online art collections on Now we are proud to announce a new addition to the collections! The Vilcek Foundation Pre-Columbian Collection illustrates the wide range of artistic and cultural legacies that arose across the pre-Columbian world.

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Jan Vilcek, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa

Yesterday, the Graduate Center, City University of New York bestowed the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, on Jan Vilcek, president and co-founder of the Vilcek Foundation. Jan was recognized in his capacity as a biomedical scientist, educator, inventor, and philanthropist.

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Vilcek Prizewinner Spotlight: Pardis Sabeti

Many children bristle at excessive instruction from older siblings, but growing up, Iranian-born Pardis Sabeti delighted in it. “As immigrants, my family and I weren’t very aware of the many educational and extracurricular opportunities in the U.S.,” Pardis says. “Instead, my parents improvised.” Pardis’ mother purchased a chalkboard and textbooks for her older sister Parisa to conduct an informal schoolhouse during the summer, and the result was a lifelong love of learning, especially in mathematics.

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Marsden Hartley hits the road!

In March, two Marsden Hartley paintings in the Vilcek Foundation’s American Modernist Collection earned quite a few frequent-flier miles, traveling from New York to Berlin for the exhibition Marsden Hartley: The German Paintings 1913–1915, at the Neue Nationalgalerie.

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Vilcek Prizewinner Spotlight: Stavros Lomvardas

It was only recently that Stavros Lomvardas’ family accepted the fact that he was not going to be a dentist; the realization came when Stavros called his father in Greece with the news that he had been selected as a winner of the 2014 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. “He said, ‘Well, I guess you’re not becoming a dentist after all,’” Stavros remembers.

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  • 2016 Vilcek Prizes

    Announcing the recipients of the 2016 Vilcek Prizes and Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science and Theatre! Read more about the accomplished winners and stay tuned for interviews, videos, and more with each prizewinner.



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