It has been a core part of the TWAS strategy almost since the Academy was founded: Through respected prizes and awards, TWAS seeks to encourage scientific excellence while bringing global recognition to researchers from the developing world.
Now, in an uptempo new film from TWAS, recent winners describe how honours from the Academy have supported their work, heightened their visibility and created new opportunities.
Argentine geoscientist Victor Alberto Ramos says that winning the 2017 TWAS-Lenovo Science Prize enhanced his scientific visibility – and contributed to public understanding of science. "Many geologists, we are working all the day long in the mountains. We are always isolated from the rest of the people," Ramos explains. But then, after the publicity of winning a prize, "all of a sudden you go to society and the society recognises what you are doing, and it is very, very impressive."
"I've been working, and I thought nobody recognised my efforts," says Caroline Asiimwe of Uganda, a specialist in veterinary research for wildlife conservation. "And all of a sudden, I received that award." Asiimwe won the 2017 Samira Omar Innovation for Sustainability Prize, named for the influential Kuwaiti researcher and former TWAS treasurer.
Rémy Bertrand Teponno, a chemist from Cameroon, won the 2017 TWAS-Atta-ur-Rahman Prize for his discovery of new plant compounds with potential medical applications. "It changed many things," Teponno says. "I received congratulations from all over the world.... People respect me now." Atta-ur-Rahman, an influential Pakistani chemist, is a TWAS Fellow and renowned advocate for science education.
Since 1986, TWAS has distributed more than 1,100 prizes and awards. The TWAS-Lenovo Science Prize is one of the most prestigious awards reserved for researchers from the developing world. Lenovo is a USD45 billion global Fortune 500 company and a leader in providing innovative consumer, commercial and enterprise technology.
Several prizes are named for some of the Academy's most esteemed members, while others are reserved for young scientists who already are having a significant impact in their fields.