News: Mahathir Science Award 2012 awarded to British scientist

Kuala Lumpur (Oct 5) – During a press conference today at the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM), Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid who is the current Chairman of Mahathir Science Award Foundation (MSAF) announced the winner of the 2012 Mahathir Science Award.

The winner is British-born Prof. James M Kelly, recognised for his contribution to the development of seismic rubber bearings to protect structures from the devastating impact of earthquakes.

Earlier on the 2nd October, distinguished Fellows of ASM met in Kuala Lumpur to select a winner for the prestigious Mahathir Science Award. The winner was chosen through a voting process based on evaluations made by an International Advisory Board, which includes Professor Lee Yuan Tseh, a Nobel Laureate from Taiwan.

The award is given to a researcher or institution which made great internationally-recognised scientific contributions in the fields of Tropical Medicine, Tropical Agriculture, Tropical Architecture and Engineering and Tropical Natural Resources.

A total of 31 nominations from 11 countries have been received by MSAF and two were shortlisted. Since its conception, a total of six people have been awarded the prize which includes RM100 000, a gold medal and a certificate.

A winner is selected each year based on three criteria – scientific breakthrough, impact of the breakthrough and how the breakthrough could solve the problems of the tropics. Nominations for the award were opened one year prior to the selection and leading scientists as well as institutions nominated were shortlisted by the selection committee before being sent abroad for evaluations by experts.

The recognition of scientists through the Mahathir Science Award is to encourage excellence in tropical science research that will be beneficial to countries in the tropics and the global community.

Past Recipients of Mahathir Science Award
1. 2005-Tropical Medicine – Professor John Sheppard Mackenzie
(Contributed in the solving of the problems related to Japanese encephalitis virus)

2. 2006-Tropical Medicine – Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya
(Outstanding contribution to the understanding and treatment of the Nipah Encephalitis)

3. 2007-Tropical Medicine – Professor Joseph Sriyal Malik Peiris
(In 2003, discovered the aetiological agent of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which led to the understanding of pathogenesis and epidemiology of the disease)

4. 2008-Tropical Agriculture – Professor Dr Gurdev Singh Khush
(Directed and developed several rice varieties which contributed immensely in reducing global hunger)

5. 2009-Tropical Natural Resources – Forest Research Institute Malaysia
(Recognising its role in the development of the rubberwood furniture industry)

6. 2010 – NIL (no winner was selected)

7. 2011 – Tropical Agricultural – Professor Yuan Long Ping 
(Recognising his independent thinking in rice breeding leading to the development of hybrid rice, a staple food of the tropics that has revolutionised global rice production and sustainability)

References:

The Star – Expert Wins Dr M Award
Bernama – Winner of the 2012 Mahathir Science Award
Academy of Sciences Malaysia – Mahathir Science Award Information
Mahathir Science Award Foundation – Official Website
University of California, Berkeley Faculty Page – Prof James M. Kelly