Who Were the Nobel Prize Winners of 2022?

Each of the Nobel Prize winners of 2022 have made significant contributions to contemporary society: here they are in full.

Apr 10, 2023By Rosie Lesso, MA Contemporary Art Theory, BA Fine Art

who were the nobel prize winners of 2022


Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has offered awards to society’s most outstanding individuals in five key categories – Physics, Chemistry, Physiology, Literature and Peace. Awards are handed out every October, as elected by committees in Sweden and Norway. The lucky winners are awarded a diploma, a medal, and 10 million Swedish krona ($900,000). Often there are multiple winners in each category, meaning the cash sum is shared amongst them. 2022 marks a significant year for the Nobel Prize, as it was the first in-person event for two years, following the global pandemic. We look through the esteemed individuals who won prizes in 2022, and their significant contributions to contemporary society. 


The Nobel Prize in Physics: Aspect, Clauser and Zeilinger

The three Nobel Prize in Physics Winners from left to right: Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger


This year, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three different individuals, each of whom made extraordinary breakthroughs that have, as the panel puts it, “shaken the very foundation of how we interpret measurements.” Working closely together, the physicists Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger studied the field of quantum mechanics, conducting a series of radical experiments with entangled light particles, or photons, revealing a way forward for quantum computers, networks and encrypted communication. 


The Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Bertozzi, Meldal and Sharpless

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry winners from 2022


The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to three individuals, who, while working independently since 2000, have made similar breakthroughs in click chemistry and bio-orthogonal chemistry, in which molecular building blocks can be joined together in a quicker and more efficient way. The three winners are Carolyn R Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and Karl Barry Sharpless. Both Sharpless and Meldal independently developed their own efficient version of the same chemical reaction – the copper catalysed azide-alakyne cycloaddition, which is now used widely for DNA mapping. Meanwhile, Bertozzi has developed a series of non-invasive, biorthogonal studies inside living organisms, which have offered new models for studying cells and targeting cancer treatments


Physiology or Medicine: Svante Paabo

Svante Paabo, winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine

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Swedish geneticist Svante Paabo won 2022’s Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine, in relation to his significant discoveries surrounding human evolution and the genomes of extinct hominins. Remarkably he managed to retrieve genetic material from 40,000-year-old bones, and this allowed him to uncover the previously unknown hominin, Denisova. While tracking its history, he observed how these extinct hominins made genetic transfers to Homo sapiens around 70,000 years ago. 


The Nobel Prize in Literature: Annie Ernaux

Nobel Prize winner for literature 2022, the novelist Annie Ernaux


French novelist Annie Ernaux was awarded 2022’s Nobel Prize for Literature. The panel looked in particular to her most significant novels A Man’s Place, A Woman’s Story, and Years, arguing these spellbinding works of literature offer a searing examination of society from all angles. Written in a stark and uncompromising style, her novels explore deep-rooted human emotions including shame, jealousy and humiliation. They praised her for her “courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.”


The Nobel Peace Prize: Ales Bialiatski

The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski


The Nobel Prize for Peace is awarded to outspoken individuals who have promoted the need for civil liberties in their home countries across the world, by standing up to systems of power or oppression, or by documenting war crimes and the abuse of power. In 2022, the prize was awarded to Ales Bialiatski, who has been arguing for democracy and human rights in Belarus for more than forty years. In 1996, he founded the organization Viasna (meaning Spring) for individuals and their families who had protested against the dictatorial powers of President Alexander Luskashenko and faced incarceration. Since then, Viasna has evolved into a wider human rights charity for documenting the mistreatment of political prisoners.

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By Rosie LessoMA Contemporary Art Theory, BA Fine ArtRosie is a contributing writer and artist based in Scotland. She has produced writing for a wide range of arts organizations including Tate Modern, The National Galleries of Scotland, Art Monthly, and Scottish Art News, with a focus on modern and contemporary art. She holds an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art. Previously she has worked in both curatorial and educational roles, discovering how stories and history can really enrich our experience of art.