StudyAdvantage Magazine

Nobel Universities ’16: Who gets bragging rights?

Published: October 25, 2016


© Nobel Media AB 2015. Photo: Pi Frisk

October means Nobel Prize announcements, and this year it has also meant a sustained period of excitement, anticipation and anxiety (for some) about what will happen to the Nobel Literature Prize…will its iconic rockstar winner Bob Dylan accept it or not?

But one community has long been well-accustomed to the anticipation surrounding the Nobel Prize announcements – the leaders of the world’s Universities. For them, a Nobel Prize for a faculty member (and anyone else affiliated with the university, really) yields extraordinary bragging rights during years and decades to come. How often haven’t you seen Universities cite the number of Nobel Laureates affiliated with the university in promotional materials? Exactly.

So who are the bragging right winning institutions this year? Let us take a rapidfire look at the institutional academic records of the eleven 2016 Nobel Laureates to see which universities’ staff will be cringiest to hang around for the rest of this year:

The Nobel Peace Prize

“For his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end”

Laureate: Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia

Educated at: Kennedy School at Harvard UniversityLondon School of Economics (LSE), University of Kansas

Honorary/Affiliations: Harvard University, Tufts University

Juan Manuel Santos

Juan Manuel Santos, 2016 Nobel Peace Prize winner. He attended University of Kansas , LSE and Harvard.


The Nobel Prize in Physics:

“For theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”

Laureate #1: David J. Thouless, British

Educated at: Cornell UniversityUniversity of Cambridge

Research/Teaching: University of Washington, University of California (Berkeley)University of BirminghamYale University

Laureate #2: F. Duncan M. Haldane, British-American

Educated at: University of Cambridge

Research/Teaching: Princeton UniversityUniversity of Southern California

Laureate #3: J. Michael Kosterlitz, British-American

Educated at: University of Oxford, University of Cambridge

Research/Teaching: Brown University



The Nobel Prize in Chemistry:

“For the design and synthesis of molecular machines”

Laureate #1: J. Jean-Pierre Sauvage, French

Educated at: Université Louis-Pasteur

Research/Teaching: University of Strasbourg

Laureate #2: Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, British-American

Educated at: University of Edinburgh

Research/Teaching: Northwestern UniversityUCLA, University of Birmingham, University of Sheffield, Queen’s University

Laureate #3: Bernard L. Fearing, Dutch

Educated at: University of Groningen

Research/Teaching: University of Groningen



The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine:

“For his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy”

Laureate: Yoshinori Ohsumi, Japanese

Educated at: University of Tokyo

Research/Teaching: Tokyo Institute of Technology, Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Rockefeller University



The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel

“For their contributions to contract theory” 

Laureate #1: Oliver Hart, American

Educated at: Princeton University, University of Warwick, University of Cambridge

Research/Teaching: Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), London School of Economics (LSE), University of Cambridge

Laureate #2: Bengt Holmström, Finnish

Educated at: Stanford University, University of Helsinki

Research/Teaching: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Yale University, Northwestern University



…and finally, this year’s most controversial (and perhaps exciting?) Nobel Prize…

The Nobel Prize in Literature

“For having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition” 

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, 2016 Nobel Literature Prize Winner. College dropout but honorary degrees from Princeton & St Andrews.

Well, we all know it’s Bob Dylan, and we all know he is American. What do we know about his academic track record? He enrolled and completed his first year at the University of Minnesota, after which he dropped out to move to New York and focus on music. So he had a short career as a student, and to our best knowledge, Dylan has never taught a university course. However, if you were inclined to engage with his music in an academic way, this course at Boston University might just be your best option.

That said, while Dylan has made it clear that he is no particular fan of prizes and accolades, he has actually accepted two honorary degrees, one from Princeton University, and the other from the University of St Andrews.

Watch the Nobel Prize committee’s announcement of Dylan’s Prize here:

So: From a simple count of Laureates with some kind of affiliation in the above list…it seems that this year’s bragging rights winner is the University of Cambridge! Perhaps no surprise…at the end of the day, they do say “Oxford educates Prime Ministers, Cambridge educates Nobel Laureates.”

At StudyAdvantage, we’re blessed to feature other great minds affiliated with some of the Nobel Laureate affiliated universities above. In a few years, you may see some of these characters roll up to thank the Swedish King for their Prize. For now, check out their blogs below:

Brown: Filip Montgomery

Cambridge: Anton Nilsson, Arqum Anwar, Azfer Khan

Edinburgh: Ebba Engstrom

LSE: Michelle Kimbler, Mads Jorgensen

MIT: Audace Nakeshimana

St Andrews: Anniken Jevrell, Christoph Jappsen, Julia Ragnell

UC Berkeley: Mimmi Lindquist

USC: Shradha Jain

Warwick: Clara Hopmann, Marthe Ydalus

Yale: Arvin Anoop, Faith Chumo, Nana Akua Mensah


Disclaimer: Please note that our lists above only lists the primary educational institutions where the respective Prize Winners have worked, and may not be comprehensive.

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