UNESCO Awards Science Prizes Ceremony

Parlement, Budapest, Hungary

10 October 2003

Address by

Mr Walter Erdelen

Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences

UNESCO science prizes recognize contributions to learning and developement

On the occasion of World Science Day, 10 November 2003, UNESCO announced the winners of this year's prizes in science. The prizes are awarded to individuals or groups for outstanding contributions in a wide variety of fields, both theoretical and applied, ranging from microbiology to environmental conservation.

The ceremony took place in Budapest, Hungary, in the parliament, as part of day-long celebrations that included a full programme of speakers, a forum of young scientists, and presentation of the awards by UNESCO's Director General Koïchiro Matsuura and Walter Erdelen, who is Assistant Director General for Natural Sciences.

The folowing prizes were awarded:

  • The Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science
  • The Carlos J. Finlay Prize for Microbiology
  • The Javed Husain Prize for Young Scientists
  • The Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation
  • The Institut Pasteur-UNESCO Medal
  • The UNESCO Science Prize



1. The Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science

The winner of the 2003 Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science is Professor Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy from Pakistan. He is a professor of nuclear and high-energy physics in Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan. He has been awarded the prize for his efforts for popularization of science for peace. He has been conducting his actions across many media: production television series, giving lectures for public at large, publishing books and production documentary film. One of his most important works is production of a documentary film of entitled "Pakistan and India under the Nuclear Shadow". The film made in Pakistan takes a critical look at what the bomb has done for the two countries since then. The film spells out in stark and urgent terms the nuclear danger that now imperils the people of Pakistan and India and the desperate need for peace.

2. The Carlos J. Finlay Prize for Microbiology

The winner of the 2003 Carlos J. Finlay Prize for Microbiology is Professor Antonio Peña Diaz from Institute for Cellular Physiology of National University of Mexico. Both in the Institute and in Mexico, Professor Peña has been the promotor of modern biophysical techniques, which allow not only him, but also other researchers in Mexico, to have a much better perspective of their research. Such techniques include fluorescence, paramagnetic resonance, microcalometry, circular dicroism, dual wavelength spectrophotometry, stop-flow spectrometry among others. He has been a very active participant in science diffusion, giving conference, publishing articles and books. His famous collection consists of four books originally called "La ciencia desde Mexico" and now "La Ciencia para Todos".

3. The Javed Husain Prize for Young Scientists

The winner of the 2003 Javed Husain Prize for Young Scientists is Professor Ravi Silva of Sri Lanka, a professor of Solid State Electronics, at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom. At only 34 years of age, he has already gained an impressive international reputation. In his short career, he has ably demonstrated that he can turn his hand to a wide range of electronic development and nanotechnology. He leads the Large Area Electronics and Nanotechnology research group, which is part of the Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey. He has recently leaded a team of researchers to set up a Nano-Electronics Center at the University of Surrey.

4. The Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation

The Bureau of the International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, decided to award the 2003 Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation jointly to the Centre for Ecology (Centro de Ecología) in Venezuela and to the Norwegian biodiversity specialist Mr Peter Johan Schei.

The Centre for Ecology is a unit of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC). For decades it has not only generated wealth in scientific knowledge in the field of tropical ecology but it has systematically and successfully disseminated this knowledge to professionals and the general public through education, training and awareness raising. We are please to welcome Dr Margarita Lampo who represents the Center.

The selection of Mr. Schei is an appreciation of his extraordinary contributions to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources. Furthermore, the Prize acknowledges Mr Schei's 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.

5. The Institut Pasteur-UNESCO Medal

The Laureate of the 2003 Institut Pasteur-UNESCO Medal is Professor Fadila Boulahbal from Algeria, a specialists in tuberculosis. She has been spending her live to face against tuberculosis. 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 was appointed as a National Reference for tuberculosis in Algeria in 1974. Ten years later, the laboratory was designated as WHO Collaborative Center for tuberculosis. She was also very concerned about education. During 22 years she has been responsible for the Department of microbiology, clinical biology and pneumophtisiology at the Medical School in Algiers. She was not only active at national level but also at international level. From 1996 to 1999, she was co-director of the National Reference Centre on Mycobacteria in the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Furthermore, for the last two decades she has been working for World Health Organization (WHO) as an expert in tuberculosis. She is a role model for women scientists. She is now regarded as a national and international figure of the fight against tuberculosis.

6. The UNESCO Science Prize

The winner of the 2003 UNESCO Science Prize is Professor Somchart Soponronnarit from Thailand. He has been conducting research for 21 years on areas of renewable energy and drying technology. During which, he has published more than 300 papers, 56 of which in international journals. He is being given this award particularly for his contribution to the creation of fluidized bed paddy dryer and cyclonic rice husk furnace, which have been used and commercialized widely in Thailand as well as in foreign countries. Another research product of Professor Soponronnarit that has been starting commercialized is the "heat pump dryer".

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