AsianScientist (Oct. 12, 2016) – Professor Rita Colwell, a former US Presidential Science Envoy who spent a large part of her career studying the bacterium that causes cholera, has won the Mahathir Science Award (MSA) 2015.
She was announced as the winner following a stringent vetting and shortlisting process by several committees comprising of Academy of Sciences Malaysia fellows and an International Advisory Panel. The award presentation ceremony will be conducted on October 26, 2016.
Awarded by the Mahathir Science Award Foundation, MSA internationally recognizes scientists, institutions or organizations worldwide who have contributed impactful tropical research on the wellbeing of society.
Colwell, who is well-known for her work in tropical medicine, was recognized for her achievement in research, innovations and leadership in defining our understanding of infectious diseases and the use of advanced technologies to prevent their spread, especially in the tropics.
The first woman to win the award, Colwell is known for her groundbreaking discovery that certain bacteria can enter a dormant stage that, under proper conditions, could revert to an infectious state. This means that even when there are no disease outbreaks, rivers, lakes and oceans can serve as reservoirs for these bacteria.
Her work has shown how changes in climate, adverse weather events, and shifts in ocean circulation can create conditions that allow infectious diseases to spread, and through that link, she has led the ability to craft pre-emptive policies to minimize outbreaks.
During her time as a Special Envoy, she was involved in spreading community-based water safety education and introducing viable, low-cost technological innovations in communities throughout Asia Pacific and Africa.
Source: Academy of Sciences Malaysia.
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