CNRS's long tradition of excellence is reinforced by its 19 Nobel laureates and 12 Fields Medal award winners. A number of eminent researchers have worked, for at least some part of their career, at one of CNRS's many laboratories.
- Jean Perrin, CNRS founder, Nobel prize in Physics, 1926,
- Frédéric Joliot-Curie, first director general after WWII, Nobel prize in Chemistry, 1935.
And more recently:
- Physics: Alfred Kastler (1966), Louis Née (1970), Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (1991), Georges Charpak (1992), Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (1997), Albert Fert (2007), Serge Haroche (2012)
- Chemistry: Jean-Marie Lehn (1987), Yves Chauvin (2005), Martin Karplus (2013)
- Biology and medicine: André Lwoff, Jacques Monod and François Jacob (1965), Jean Dausset (1980), Luc Montagnier (2008), Jules Hoffman (2011),
- Economics: Maurice Allais (1988).
The international Abel Prize rewards a mathematician's outstanding work and contribution to the numerous fields of mathematics. Launched in 2003, it is awarded each year by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Selection of the laureate is based on the recommendation of the Abel Committee, composed of five mathematicians of international repute.
Jean-Pierre Serre was the first Abel prize laureate in 2003.
The Fields Medal recognizes young mathematicians' outstanding contribution to the discipline. Handed out every four years at the International Congress of Mathematicians, this distinction rewards a maximum of four mathematicians aged less than 40 as of the 1st January of the year concerned.
Field Medal laureates who have worked at CNRS in the course of their career include:
Laurent Schwartz (1950), Jean-Pierre Serre (1954), René Thom (1958), Alexandre Grothendieck (1966), Alain Connes (1982), Pierre-Louis Lions and Jean-Christophe Yoccoz (1994), Laurent Lafforgue (2002), Wendelin Werner (2006), Ngô Bao Châu(2010), Cédric Villani (2010), and Artur Avila (2014).
The Turing Award, often recognized as the "Nobel Prize of computing" is given annually by the Association for Computing Machinery to "an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. The contributions should be of lasting and major technical importance to the computer field".
In 2007, Joseph Sifakis is the first French researcher to have received this award
since it was created in 1966.
CNRS Gold medalists
Since it was created in 1954, the CNRS Gold Medal is awarded annually to scientific figures who have made an exceptional contribution, in a range of disciplines, to the innovation and influence of French research. It is presented to eminent, internationally renowned scientists for their career and work.
The latest Gold medal laureates are :
- 2013 : Margaret BUCKINGHAM, developmental biology
- 2012 : Philippe DESCOLA, anthropology
- 2011 : Jules HOFFMANN, biology (press release)
- 2010 : Gérard FÉREY, chemistry (press release)
- 2009 : Serge HAROCHE, physics (press release)
- 2008 : Jean WEISSENBACH, genetics (press release)
- 2007 : Jean TIROLE, economy
- 2006 : Jacques STERN, computer science
- 2005 : Alain ASPECT, physics
- 2004 : Alain CONNES, mathematics
- 2003 : Albert FERT, physics
- 2002 : Claude LORIUS et Jean JOUZEL, climatology
- 2001 : Maurice GODELIER, anthropology
- 2000 : Michel LAZDUNSKI, biochemistry
- 1999 : Jean-Claude RISSET, computer music
- 1998 : Pierre POTIER, chemistry
- 1997 : Jean ROUXEL, chemistry
- 1996 : Claude COHEN-TANNOUDJI, physics
- 1995 : Claude HAGEGE, linguistics
- 1994 : Claude ALLEGRE, Earth physics
- 1993 : Pierre BOURDIEU, sociology
All Gold medalists
CNRS Innovation medalists
The CNRS Medal of Innovation, created in 2011, rewards outstanding scientific research with innovative applications in the technological, therapeutical and societal fields, thus promoting French scientific research. Every year, a jury hands out up to five medals to researchers and engineers, either from CNRS or within other research organizations, universities and higher-education institutions, or to industrial parners involved in research initiatives.
The Innovation medal laureates are :
- 2014 : Barbara Demeneix, biologist ; Claude Grison, chemist ; Valentina Lazarov, expert in process engineering for the treatment and reuse of wastewater ; Didier Roux, physical chemist
- 2013 : Philippe Cinquin, professor in medical data processing ; Ludwik Leibler, physical chemist ; Stéphane Mallat, mathematician
- 2012 : Alain Benoît, very low temperature physicist ; Patrick Couvreur, biochemist ; José-Alain Sahel, adaptive optics clinician and researcher
- 2011 : Esther Duflo, development economist ; François Pierrot, robotics specialist ; Mathias Fink, physicist
CNRS Silver medalists
The CNRS Silver Medal honors researchers who are only at the beginning of their rise to fame, but who are already recognized nationally and internationally for the originality, quality, and importance of their work.
All Silver medalists
CNRS Bronze medalists
The CNRS Bronze Medal recognizes a researcher's first work, which makes that person a specialist with talent in a particular field. This medal is a way for the CNRS to encourage the researcher to continue work that has met with initial success and already produced fruitful results.
All Bronze medalists