Neville Shulman Awards 2012
Earthwatch announces grants to support young scientists Islam Mohammad-Elsadek and Maria Isabel Estevez.
Neville Shulman Award winners: Islam Mohammad-Elsadek and Maria Isabel Estevez.
Earthwatch is delighted to announce the winners of the 2012 Neville Shulman Awards. The awards support emerging environmental leaders from Africa, Asia, and Central and South America to plan and implement research- and education-focused conservation projects. The initiative is funded by author and explorer Neville Shulman CBE.
Two successful applicants will receive a grant of £4,000 (approximately US$6,500) to carry out projects, and five runners-up will receive £500 (approximately US$800) to contribute to training opportunities. The recipients are early-career scientists who are nominated and mentored by Earthwatch scientists. As well as developing their own skills, they also bring extra dimensions to the Earthwatch projects with which they are associated—often a community or education angle that increases the positive impacts of the research projects and enhances the experience of volunteers participating in those projects.
Twenty-six-year-old Islam Mohammad-Elsadek from Egypt is one of this year’s recipients of the full £4,000 award. He will work alongside Earthwatch scientist Marina Costa in the Egyptian Red Sea to develop a catalog of the marine mammal species of a previously unstudied coastal area in the south of Egypt. The marine mammals of the Red Sea are among the world's least understood populations. By collecting data on their population status, habitat preferences, and existing or potential threats from human activities, Islam will be able to feed into the development of a targeted strategy to protect whales and dolphins in the area and in the wider Red Sea.
“I can’t describe how happy I am to get the grant,” says Islam, ”It will help me in achieving many of my goals. I love my work and I have many research ambitions. I will start the project as soon as possible.”
The second winner of the full grant this year, 28-year-old Maria Isabel Estevez from Ecuador, will work on a research project aimed at conserving the critically endangered brown-headed spider monkey in northwest Ecuador under the guidance of Earthwatch scientist Dr. Mika Peck. Maria will develop a forest community educational program with schools and teachers Ecuador to raise awareness of the need to protect primates. She also plans to establish and train a network of local community representatives to deliver environmental education programs, and to monitor and report on the status of endangered primates to gauge the effectiveness of conservation programs. “I feel so proud to undertake this big challenge for the conservation of the critically endangered brown-headed spider monkey,” says Maria.
Even the smaller £500 grants can make a tremendous positive difference to the advancement of scientific careers. Dr. Paul Muoria, lead scientist on the Kenya-based Earthwatch project Conserving Grevy’s Zebras in the Samburu District, nominated runner-up Daniel Letoiye. Dr. Muoria says: “I believe that this support will help Daniel continue building his career in conservation. When Daniel joined us as a volunteer on the Grevy’s zebra project in 2003, he was a primary school teacher. Now he is in the U.K. studying for his master’s degree. I am personally proud of his accomplishments and the fact that Earthwatch has helped and continues to mentor and support Daniel and many other Kenyans as they develop their conservation careers.”
Since 2008, Neville Shulman has supported the development of 25 early-career scientists through Earthwatch projects in 16 countries. In that time, grant recipients have gone on to make some remarkable achievements in the world of conservation and environmental education.
Sarah Staunton-Lamb, learning manager for emerging scientists, concludes: “Building the skills and knowledge of scientists, teachers, and students among the communities where Earthwatch is working is a vital part of our mission. The extraordinary people who have benefited from Neville’s generous support have demonstrated passion and dedication in reaching their own career goals, as well as working with Earthwatch scientists to advance vital conservation and education initiatives to ensure our work leaves a lasting legacy. We are extremely proud of all of these individuals.”