Dr. Augustina Alexander wins prestigious international research prize for works on water quality

Sat, 23.Mar.2024 17.18

By Special Correspondent, CMU

The University of Dar es Salaam don, Dr. Augustina Clara Alexander, has been awarded the prestigious 2024 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Award for Early-Career Women Scientists in the Developing World for her contribution to research that helps meet the challenge of improved water quality, hygiene and sanitation.

According to the information released jointly by the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD), Elsevier, and the Elsevier Foundation on 22 March, 2024, Dr. Alexander is among the five women awarded this prize for “advancing UN Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation – an issue which disproportionately affects women and girls around the world”.

“This announcement comes on World Water Day, since the winners’ research explores a wide range of pioneering ways that the challenge of water quality can be tackled, from using hydrological modelling to bioremediation with bacteria, and from creating nanocomposites for heavy metal removal to working with communities to develop sustainable practices”, stated the press release.

The information further explained that the 2024 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Awards had recognised women-led science from more than 20 low- and middle-income countries since 2013. “The prize also acknowledges the scientists’ commitment to leadership, mentoring and engagement within their communities, including the translation of research into actionable insights for stakeholders”.

Other winners, apart from Dr. Alexander who is a civil and water resources engineer and lecturer at UDSM Department of Water Resources Engineering, College of Engineering and Technology (CoET), include Tasrina Rabia Choudhury, of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, Bangladesh; Lidia Antonella Rivera Peñalva, of the Coral Reef Alliance, Honduras; Zubeda Ukundimana, of Kampala International University, Uganda; and Shirani Manel Kumari Widana Gamage, of the University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka.

The information further explained that Dr. Alexander, who is also UDSM Director of Internationalisation, Convocation and Advancement (DICA), has focused her research in the areas of water supply and treatment, hydrological modelling, climate change and land use impact assessment, water resources evaluation and management.

“Dr. Augustina Alexander is part of Unlocking Resilient Benefits from African water resources (RESBEN), a project looking for a holistic understanding of processes and relationships of factors involved in sustainable water resource management and development while focusing on the novel research theory, methodologies, and practice”, explained the press release.

Dr. Alexander is a member of various professional organisations and serves on different national and international committees. She is a Member of the Board of Directors of Engineers Registration Board Tanzania; Member of Africa Groundwater Network (AGW-NET); Member of Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme Tanzania National Committee (IHP-Tanzania NC); Executive Committee member - OWSD Tanzania Chapter, Co-coordinator of the 23- UPH (Unsolved Problems in Hydrology) in Africa and Coordinator of the WaterNet Regional Programme- Tanzania.

Remarkable achievements

Prof. William A. L. Anangisye, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam, expressed the university's enthusiasm and joy at having one of its staff members awarded such a distinguished international prize on issues of water which “are critical to many communities in the world”.

“The University of Dar es Salaam is immensely proud of Dr. Augustina Alexander’s international award, which recognises her remarkable achievements and affirms our commitment to excellence and service particularly to our communities and our country at large”, said Prof. Anangisye.

Jennifer Thomson, President of the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World said that clean water was as essential a need as it got – not only for humans but for the ecosystems that sustain people.

“Our five amazing winners this year are all working in their own different ways to make sure that the most vulnerable communities have access to clean water, and that critical ecosystems such as our coral reefs and wetlands are protected. We are so proud of them and are sure this prize is just one step on their path to success”, said Thomson.

Celebrating impressive women scientists

Ylann Schemm, Executive Director of the Elsevier Foundation said that their organisation’s vision for the awards was to celebrate impressive women scientists who are helping to make real progress towards advancing the UN SDGs.

“We know that women and girls bear the brunt of the water and sanitation crisis, yet we do not have gender parity in research around issues disproportionately affecting women around the world. By offering this prize, we want to spotlight the important research undertaken by the women who’ve become inspiring role models for communities most affected by this issue”, said Schemm.

First given in 2013, the award is made in partnership by the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World and The Elsevier Foundation. OWSD fields applications and chairs a panel of distinguished scientists to select the winners, and the Foundation awards a cash prize for each winner of USD $5,000.

Also, award winners are offered an all-expenses-paid trip to attend a relevant conference in the awardees’ field to provide them with vital networking opportunities. “In 2024, awardees will attend the International Water Week in Singapore”.

“The winners will also have the opportunity to publish their work in STAR Protocols, an open access, peer-reviewed journal from Cell Press which offers structured, transparent, accessible, and repeatable step-by-step experimental and computational protocols from all areas of life, health, earth and physical sciences”.

Past award winners had an opportunity to meet their country’s presidents, and have been celebrated by local, national, and international media, while other winners have gone on to receive other prestigious awards and fellowships including L’OREAL-UNESCO’s For Women in Science Fellowships, and to hold influential scientific leadership positions including as National Secretary of Science and Technology.

About OWSD, Elsevier and Elsevier Foundation

The Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World provides research training, career development and networking opportunities for women scientists throughout the developing world. It has more than 10,000 members and runs various programmes, including the 25-years-running PhD fellowship programme with over 360 successful graduates from Least Developed Countries and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as an Early Career fellowship programme providing research grants, with over 100 alumnae, and a new master’s scholarship for refugee women scientists launched in 2024.

OWSD is affiliated with The World Academy of Science (TWAS), a programme unit of UNESCO, and is based in Trieste, Italy, with 54 national chapters throughout the developing world.

The Elsevier Foundation contributes over $1.5 million a year to non-profit organisations through partnerships which incubate new approaches, highlight inequities, and catalyse change toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Funded by Elsevier, a global information analytics company specialising in science and health, the Elsevier Foundation is part of Elsevier’s wider corporate responsibility programme.