the world academy of sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries


2 May 2017

New prizes for developing careers

With the support of key TWAS Fellows and partners, the Academy has established three new prizes that recognize high-impact research from women scientists and from Least Developed Countries.

Strong motivation brings good results, and rewarding good results fuels motivation. For scientists from developing nations who are often working with limited resources every incentive encourages the pursuit of excellence.

To sustain such a virtuous circle, TWAS has added a collection of three new awards to celebrate top researchers from the developing world. These prizes are targeted to key communities – women researchers and scientists from Africa and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

The new awards are possible thanks to the generous support from some of TWAS's Fellows and partners. The calls are open until 10 July.

The new honours are:

The TWAS-Abdool Karim Prize for women scientists in low-income African countries;

The TWAS-Samira Omar Innovation for Sustainability Prize, dedicated to scientists from the LDCs;

The TWAS-Fayzah Al-Kharafi Prize, dedicated to women scientists from science- and technology-lagging countries.

"From the start, prizes and awards have been a core part of TWAS's strategy for promoting scientific excellence in the developing world," said Mohamed Hassan, TWAS's ad interim executive director. "These new prizes are very important and valuable additions to our portfolio. They honour the contributions of women scientists and scientists in the Least Developed Countries. Each is very important for scientific advancement in the South, and we are therefore very grateful to the sponsors for their support."

The TWAS- Award for women scientists in low-income African countries is named for epidemiologist Quarraisha Abdool Karim, the associate scientific director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA).

Abdool Karim was elected to TWAS in 2015, and is the winner of the 2014 TWAS-Lenovo Science Prize – among the most prestigious honours given to scientists from the developing world – for her medical research on HIV and AIDS.

In 2013 Abdool Karim won the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Prize for Science and Technology. In addition, she received the 2012 TWAS Prize for her life-saving contributions to HIV prevention and women's health. She led the CAPRISA 004 tenofovir gel trial, which was highlighted by the journal Science as one of the top 10 scientific breakthroughs in 2010.

The award under her name is being inaugurated this year, and will be awarded annually for ten years. It includes a prize of USD5,000, funded by Abdool Karim.

The TWAS-Samira Omar Innovation for Sustainability Prize is an annual award provided by 2014 TWAS Fellow Samira Omar Asem of Kuwait, who currently serves as TWAS Treasurer.

Omar is the director general at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR). She was named to deliver a TWAS Medal Lecture in 2016, and she served as the vice president for the Arab region of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) from 2010 to 2016. She has contributed extensively to the conservation and sustainable development of renewable natural resources.

Recipients of the TWAS-Samira Omar prize will be scientists from Least Developed Countries, both women and men in alternate years. They receive an award of USD4,000. Omar initiated the prize in the belief that such incentives are vital for encouraging women in developing countries to be more involved in science and technology, and to make a more significant contribution to social and economic development.

Fayzah Mohammed Al-Kharafi was the first woman ever to lead a university in the Middle East, serving as president of Kuwait University from 1993 to 2002. She was elected to TWAS in 2004 and served six years as a vice president of the Academy, with her term ending in 2016. The same year, she generously funded the new prize to acknowledge female scientists from science-and technology-lagging countries.

The TWAS-Al-Kharafi Prize covers various fields of science. In 2017 it will honour medical researchers with a cash award of USD4,000. The first TWAS-Al-Kharafi Prize was awarded in 2016 to Marian Nkansah, a Ghanaian chemist who screens food, drinks and the environment for the presence of dangerous heavy metals.

As a chemist, Al-Kharafi's research has focused on the corrosion of metals, a crucial challenge for the oil industry, water treatment systems and other key sectors in Kuwait.

Since 1985, TWAS has awarded more than 1,050 prizes to scientists from developing countries.

Cristina Serra

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