UNESCO awards Science Prizes on World Science DayThis year’s six UNESCO science prizes will be awarded in Budapest (Hungary) today, at the closing of the three-day World Science Forum. The event coincides with UNESCO’s celebration of World Science Day. The prizes will be awarded by Walter Erdelen, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, on behalf of Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. On the same day, at a special ceremony in Caracas (Venezuela), the 2002 Kalinga Prize will be given posthumously to the late Marisela Salvatierra, who was prevented by poor health from receiving it when she was still alive.
The 2003 Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science is awarded to Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, a nuclear and high-energy physics specialist at the Department of Physics, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad (Pakistan.). A passionate believer in the value of understanding science, Professor Hoodbhoy has produced three major television series on science and is the author of Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality (ZED Books, London, 1991). He also produced a documentary film entitled Pakistan and India under the Nuclear Shadow. The Kalinga Prize, established by the Kalinga Foundation Trust (India), is awarded every year to encourage dialogue between scientists and the general public.
The Carlos J Finlay Prize for Microbiology is awarded to Antonio Peña Diaz of the Institute for Cellular Physiology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Professor Peña Diaz has been an active promoter of modern biophysical techniques in Mexico, and has published books and newspaper articles on science policy. He has been awarded several distinctions, including the award of the Mexican Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (1975). In 1994, he was appointed the first Emeritus Professor of the Cellular Physiology Institute, UNAM. The Carlos J Finlay Prize is made possible by a grant from the government of Cuba and is named after a prominent 19th century Cuban biologist.
The Javed Husain Prize for Young Scientists is awarded to Ravi Silva of Sri Lanka, Professor of Solid State Electronics at the University of Surrey (United Kingdom). Aged 34, he already leads the Large Area Electronics and Nanotechnology Research Group, which is part of the Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey. He also recently set up a Nano-Electronics Centre at the University. The Javed Husain Prize was established by UNESCO in 1984 with a generous donation by Professor Javed Husain of India. The prize is awarded in recognition of outstanding pure and applied research carried out by young scientists of no more than 35 years of age.
The Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation is awarded jointly to the Venezuelan Centre for Ecology (Centro de Ecología) and to the Norwegian biodiversity specialist, Peter Johan Schei, nominated by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). The Centre for Ecology is a unit of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research
(IVIC) which, for decades has not only generated a wealth of scientific knowledge in the field of tropical ecology, but has systematically and successfully disseminated this knowledge to professionals and the general public through education, training and awareness raising.
The selection of Mr Schei recognizes his extraordinary contributions to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources. The Prize also acknowledges his role as facilitator in the dialogue between developed and developing countries in the international environmental arena, especially in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The $20,000 Sultan Qaboos Prize is made possible through a generous donation from His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said of Oman.
The 2003 Institut Pasteur-UNESCO Medal is awarded to tuberculosis specialist, Fadila Boulahbal of Algeria. In 1970, Professor Boulahbal became head of the Laboratory of Tuberculosis and Mycobacteria at the Pasteur Institute in Algiers. Thanks to her efforts, the laboratory became a national reference laboratory for tuberculosis in Algeria in 1974 and, in 1984, was designated a WHO Collaborative Centre for tuberculosis. By creating a network of tuberculosis laboratories through the country, Professor Boulahbal has contributed to the success of the Algerian national programme against tuberculosis. The Institut Pasteur-UNESCO Medal has been awarded since 1995 in recognition of outstanding research contributing human health.
The UNESCO Science Prize is awarded to Somchart Soponronnarit of Thailand, for his research on renewable energy and drying technology. The award particularly recognizes his contribution to the creation of a fluidized bed paddy dryer and cyclonic rice husk furnace, and a recent ‘heat pump dryer’, which have been used and commercialized widely in Thailand and in other countries.
Proclaimed by the UNESCO General Conference, the World Science Day for Peace and Development (November10) is an annual event celebrated all over the world to renew national, as well as international commitments to science for peace and development and to stress the responsible use of science for the benefit of society. World Science Day also aims to raise public awareness of the importance of science and to bridge the gap between science and societies.