How 4 Nobel Prize winners reacted to receiving the awards

So far, recipients for the prizes in peace and chemistry have been announced.

October 06, 2018, 1:39 PM

Nobel Prizes for six categories are given out annually in recognition of outstanding achievements in various fields, ranging from activism to science to writing. Each of the laureates are people who've worked tirelessly in some capacity for the better good of humanity.

Over the last week, the various institutions given the task of determining the laureates have begun announcing who will be receiving the awards. Here’s how some of the recipients reacted.

The Nobel Peace Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday to anti-rape activists Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.

The Nobel Peace Prize goes to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

PHOTO: Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege talks to the press at the Panzi hospital in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's South Kivu province, on Oct. 6, 2018.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege talks to the press at the Panzi hospital in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's South Kivu province, on Oct. 6, 2018, a day after receiving the prestigious award.
Alain Wandimoyi/AFP/Getty Images

“Each of them in their own way has helped to give greater visibility to wartime sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions,” the Committee said in an statement.

Murad, a survivor or sexual violence herself, said in a statement that she was grateful for the international community paying attention to the plight of the Yazidi people, who have suffered since the 2014 genocide in Daesh, Iraq, committed by the Islamic State committed.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled by their support and I share this award with Yazidis, Iraqis, Kurds, other persecuted minorities and all of the countless victims of sexual violence around the world,” Murad said.

Mukwege, a physician who has spent large parts of his adult life helping victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, also said in the statement: “I learned of this news while I was in the middle of performing surgery in my hospital. At this time, my thoughts turn immediately to all survivors of rape and sexual violence in conflict zones around the world.”

PHOTO: Nadia Murad, public advocate for the Yazidi community in Iraq and survivor of sexual enslavement by the Islamic State jihadists, delivers a speech at the European parliament, Dec. 13, 2016, in Strasbourg, France.
Nadia Murad, public advocate for the Yazidi community in Iraq and survivor of sexual enslavement by the Islamic State jihadists, delivers a speech at the European parliament, Dec. 13, 2016, in Strasbourg, France.
Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Three people will receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018. The award is given to people who’ve made “the most important chemical discovery or improvement,” according to Alfred Nobel’s will.

This year, one-half of the award will go to Frances Arnold, a California Institute of Technology professor, and the other half will be split among George Smith, a researcher from the University of Missouri, and Greg Winter, a researcher at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge.

Arnold is receiving the award for inventing a way to control evolution in enzymes, an accomplishment that could ultimately lead to the manufacturing of everything from biofuels to pharmaceuticals, according to a press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which is tasked with determining the laureates for this award.

PHOTO: Gregory Winter, poses for photographs after being awarded the Noble Prize for Chemistry, outside Trinity College Cambridge, England, Oct. 3, 2018.
Gregory Winter, poses for photographs after being awarded the Noble Prize for Chemistry, outside Trinity College Cambridge, England, Oct. 3, 2018.
Chris Radburn/Reuters

Arnold was sleeping in a hotel room in Dallas when she received the call at around 4 a.m. on Wednesday.

“At first I was afraid it was an emergency at home,” Arnold told ABC News about her experience with the Academy.

“I was not thinking clearly when I answered, having just been roused from a deep sleep. And by the time I was alert, it was apparent it was not a prank,” Arnold said. “Then I was thinking, how can I rouse my sons back in California to tell them the news? They never answer the phone.”

Arnold said she had mixed of feelings when she was told about the award. “More exhilaration and frustration, with the desire to share the news, but I was not able to for 30 minutes until the press conference,” she said, adding that she also felt regret that her father is not alive to share the moment with her.

PHOTO: Nobel chemistry winner Frances Arnold poses for a photo at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., Oct. 3, 2018.
Nobel chemistry winner Frances Arnold poses for a photo at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., Oct. 3, 2018.
Damian Dovarganes/AP

Still, she said that the Academy was “very gracious and praised my work.”

“They told me the prize would be shared with Greg Winter and George Smith, whose work I admire deeply,” she added.

Arnold shares the prize with Winter and Smith, who were awarded their half of the prize for developing a method to create new antibodies — and subsequently pharmaceuticals — by manipulating viruses that infect bacteria, known as bacteriophages. Their method is known as phage display.

In a press conference, Winter said that the news shocked him, even though people had mentioned to him that he’d be nominated for the prize.

“It came as a bit of a shock, and I felt a bit numb for a while. It’s almost like you’re in a different universe,” he said. “For a scientist, a Nobel Prize is the highest accolade you can get, and I’m so lucky because there are so many brilliant scientists and not enough Nobel Prizes to go around.”

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events