Hirosi Ooguri, the Fred Kavli Professor of Theoretical Physics and Mathematics and founding director of the Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics, will be the 2016 recipient of the Chunichi Cultural Award. Founded in 1947 by Japanese newspaper Chunichi Shimbun to commemorate the enacting of the Japanese constitution, the award celebrates individuals or organizations who have made significant contributions to the arts, humanities, and natural or social sciences. Other awardees this year include physicist and 2015 Nobel Laureate Takaaki Kajita, poet Toru Kitagawa, and biologist Ikue Mori, each of whom will receive the 2 million yen ($20,000) prize. Previous recipients include six other Nobel laureates and one Fields medalist.

The prize honors Ooguri for the "development of innovative methods of modern mathematics in high energy theory," according to the prize citation. His research focuses on creating new theoretical tools in quantum field theory and superstring theory, which may ultimately lead to a unified theory of the forces and matter in nature. He is particularly renowned for his work on topological string theory, which has had broad applications ranging from black hole physics to algebraic geometry and knot theory in mathematics.

This April, Ooguri was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also the recipient of the Leonard Eisenbud Prize for Mathematics and Physics from the American Mathematical Society, the Nishina Memorial Prize, the Humboldt Research Award, the Simons Investigator Award, and is a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. He also received Japan's Kodansha Prize for Science Books for his popular Introduction to Superstring Theory in 2014.

Ooguri will receive the Chunichi Award at a ceremony to be held in Japan on June 3.

Written by Robert Perkins