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Blue Planet Prizes for Science, Activism

26 July 2011 10:30 pm
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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Jane Lubchenco is the winner of one of this year'sBlue Planet Prizes. The Tokyo-based Asahi Glass Foundation cited both Lubchenco's research and her commitment "to incorporate sound and clearly stated scientific, ecological principles into responsibly enacted public policy," as deciding factors in awarding her the prize, which recognizes contributions to solving global environmental problems. Lubchenco, a marine ecologist on leave from Oregon State University, Corvallis, did ground-breaking research on the relationship between biodiversity and the health of ecosystems, the causes and consequences of climate change, and the economic benefits of preserving nature. In addition, the foundation pointed to Lubchenco's efforts to get researchers to take a more active role in public policy debates, singling out her 1997 call for a "new social contract" between scientists and society while she was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes Science.

This year's other Blue Planet Prize goes to the Barefoot College, a nongovernmental organization based in Tilonia, India, for its work promoting autonomous and ecologically sustainable rural development using technologies such as solar power electrification and rainwater harvesting. The college also promotes the education of girls and rural health. Founded in 1972 the Barefoot College has expanded operations throughout India and to developing countries in Africa, and Central and South America.

The awardees will get a certificate, a trophy, and $640,000 at a ceremony in Tokyo in November.

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