The six early-career women scientists in the developing world have been rewarded for demonstrating research excellence in the area of climate action and the environment.
The prize recognizes that these scientists have often overcome great challenges to achieve what they have.
According to foundation, the prize also acknowledges the scientists’ commitment to leading and mentoring young scientists, and to improving lives and livelihoods in their communities and regions. One prize is awarded to a scientist in each of OWSD’s four regions, plus one additional prize in any region. In 2022, two additional prizes were given exceptionally.
These regions include Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, Asia and Pacific as well as Arab Countries.
Dr. Myriam Mujawamariya is a lecturer in the department of Biology at the University of Rwanda.
Dr. Mujawamariya is helping Rwanda to prepare for climate change by studying how various types of indigenous trees respond to different climate scenarios. Erosion is a major environmental concern in Rwanda, and many efforts are being put into landscape restoration and ecosystem-based adaptation. However, greater knowledge is needed about how trees will respond to higher temperatures and other climatic changes, as well as which trees can best support ecosystem services such as soil stabilization, climate regulation, biodiversity, and bioenergy.
Dr. Mujawamariya tested the physiological responses of 20 native species grown at three sites along an elevation gradient, to simulate different climate change scenarios, using the unique Rwanda Tropical Elevation Experiment, Rwanda TREE project. The project will contribute to understanding of how climate change will influence tropical forest cover, carbon sequestration and biodiversity not only in Rwanda, but in all of Africa’s Western Rift Valley region and beyond.
She Mujawamariya received her bachelor’s degree in biology at the former National University of Rwanda in 2007, and a master’s degree in plant sciences, specializing in natural resources management, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands in 2012. She received her PhD in natural sciences, specializing in environmental science, from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden in 2021. She began working at the University of Rwanda in 2007 as a Tutorial Assistant, and then Assistant Lecturer since 2013; in 2021, she was promoted to Lecturer.
Dr. Mujawamariya is a member of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation and is a Research Associate at the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management (CoEB).
She has won numerous grants for her work, including the Belgian ARES grant, and grants from the Rwanda National Council of Science and Technology, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). She has participated in many community outreach activities through the University of Rwanda and CoEB to raise awareness for biodiversity conservation, including educating school children about environmental protection.
Other awardees include Abeer Ahmed Qaed Ahmed, of Al-Saeed University; in microbiology (Arab region - Yemen); Heyddy Calderon, of the Instituto de Geología y Geofísica; in hydrology (Latin America & the Caribbean - Nicaragua); Gawsia Wahidunnessa Chowdhury, of the University of Dhaka; in aquatic ecology (Asia and the Pacific - Bangladesh); Flor de Mayo González Miranda, of San Carlos University; in environmental engineering (Latin America & the Caribbean - Guatemala) and Ashani Savinda Ranathunga of the University of Moratuwa; in geotechnical engineering (Asia and the Pacific - Sri Lanka).
The OWSD President Jennifer Thomson has said that ‘what 2022 winners are doing is absolutely outstanding’ highlighting that climate change ‘is the most pressing challenge of our time, and these women are finding innovative and effective ways to address it in their local contexts. We hope this award is the first of many for them’.
Each award winner will receive a prize of US$ $5,000. They will have the opportunity to be recognized and participate in several high-profile conferences and events. The first of these will be the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), where they will take part in a panel discussion during the Minority and Women Scientists and Engineers breakfast, February 19.
They will also take part in the International Conference on Gender Action and Climate Change at Istanbul Aydın University (IAU) in Turkey, March 24, and in the EuroScience Open Forum in Leiden, the Netherlands, July 13-16 2022.
Past OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Award winners have been received by their country’s presidents and celebrated by local, national and international media. They have received other prestigious awards and fellowships including the L’OREAL-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowships and the British Council Award.