Roderick MacKinnonThe Molecular Frontiers Inquiry Prize (MFIP) is the world’s first prize rewarding questions rather than answers, recognizing the critical role of curiosity in the scientific process as well as the value of skilled inquisitiveness in all aspects of modern life.

Each year, five girls and five boys win the MFIP for asking the most insightful and thought-provoking scientific questions. Their entries are judged by a jury selected from our scientific advisory board consisting of world-leading scientists including thirteen Nobel laureates. The prize consists of a medal, a hand-painted certificate, and a gift - so far this has been an iPad.

The Medal, designed by eminent bio-nano-technologist Prof. Shuguang Zhang of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, depicts the famous DNA molecule viewed from the unusual "z" direction on one side and an exclamation mark made of a carbon nanotube with a "C60" buckyball point on the other. It also has our motto: CURIOSITY CREATIVITY HONESTY KNOWLEDGE. 

The certificate was designed and hand-painted by the chair of our Educational Board, Dr. Elizabeth Ball and is printed on heavy paper like that of the Nobel prize certificates - perfect for framing! The MFIP also serves to democratize access to top science minds and empower youth –all that is required is curiosity and an Internet connection. 

Participation in the MFIP teaches youth that their innate curiosity is a respected and sought-after trait that can be developed into a transferable skill.

Read more about the Prize and see winning entries on the competition website,

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 winners were announced on our website and Facebook instead of during a ceremony at one of our annual Molecular Frontiers Symposia. There will be an award ceremony for entries submitted in 2021 and 2022, which will be held at the upcoming Molecular Frontiers Symposium "A Nano Focus on Quantum Materials" in Gothenburg Nov 28-29.


Top: 2009 MFIP winner Felicia Ullstad with Nobel Prize laureate Roderick MacKinnon

Bottom: 2013 MFIP winner Timea Vitos with Nobel Prize laureate Gerard ‘t Hooft


Supporting organizations

Show all