The Linnean Medal is one of the most prestigious awards for biologists granted by the Linnean Society of London. The Society was started in 1788 by botanist Sir James Edward Smith.
100 years later, in 1888, the Linnean Medal was established to award respected biologists annually. Since then notable biologists have won the medal for their pioneering work in the field of biology.
According to the society’s website, the recognition is awarded as “an expression of the Society’s esteem and appreciation for service to science”.
In its lineage of 130 years, this year, the medal was awarded to an Indian for the first time.
Dr Kamaljit Bawa, President of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), and Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, was awarded the medal for his pioneering research in conservation biology.
His research was on the evolution of tropical plants, tropical deforestation and non-timber forest products. The distinguished scholar has a body of work on the biodiversity of forests in Central America, the Western Ghats and the Eastern Himalaya, spanning several decades.
Dr Bawa’s efforts to establish a world-class environmental centre, ATREE, in Bengaluru, were also recognised.
ATREE is a non-governmental organisation devoted to research, policy analysis, and education in India. It ranks only second in Asia and 18th globally, among the world’s environment think tanks
A press release records the following statement by Dr Bawa, “The Linnean Medal is a good recognition of our work on conservation and sustainability, and will serve as a fresh reminder that we need to redouble our efforts to fully document and study our planet’s incredible plant wealth that is rapidly declining.”
Dr Bawa’s other efforts include him establishing the open-access interdisciplinary journal Conservation and Society which publishes peer-reviewed research exploring linkages between society, environment and development.
He obtained his PhD from the Botany Department of the Punjab University in Chandigarh and has since then published more than 200 scientific papers and authored or edited 11 books and monographs.
Kudos to Dr Bawa and his organisation, for not only furthering the cause of preserving biodiversity but also seeding the movement needed for the conservation of the environment!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)