Scientist Specializing in Wetland Biodiversity Wins ASPIRE Science Prize

Putrajaya, Malaysia, 02 September 2020
  • Issued by the Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation

A scientist specializing in the research of wetland biodiversity and nature’s contribution to people has won the APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education known as ASPIRE Prize in its 10-year anniversary.

Dr. Huai Chen, a leading researcher focusing in wetland biodiversity and ecosystem services, was named the region’s top early career researcher. Wetlands conservation contributes to important works in climate change mitigation as one of the most effective carbon sinks. Dr. Chen’s findings lead to a better understanding of these wetlands including protecting, developing new generation models for methane emissions and enhancing assessment of carbon storage and ecological value.

“I am honored to receive the ASPIRE award and share more about our work on wetlands. Knowledge knows no borders and I am proud to work with a team of international researchers as we advance our efforts in the Asia-Pacific,” said Dr. Chen, who was nominated by China and is a professor at Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Chen was selected from a group of twelve finalists, each nominated by one of the APEC member economies under the 2020 ASPIRE Prize theme, “Biodiversity for a Prosperous Economy.”  Nominees, all under 40 years of age, were considered based on their commitment to both excellence in scientific research as evidenced by scholarly publication and cooperation with scientists from other APEC economies. 

“The theme, Biodiversity for a Prosperous Economy” is exemplified in Dr. Chen’s research,” said Dr. Siti Hamisah, Secretary General of Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation Malaysia.

“Biodiversity is important to APEC economies that are rich in natural assets. A well-functioning ecosystem and rich biodiversity are foundational for human health, which contributes to the well-being of communities around the region,” she added. “When we have a clearer understanding of nature and biodiversity, we can better respond to challenges and protect our world to enhance economic growth.”

The ASPIRE Prize winner was announced by science, technology, and innovation officials from the APEC member economies at a meeting hosted by Malaysia.

“As we celebrate a decade of the ASPIRE Prize, we are thrilled to continue to advance excellence in research and foster cross border collaboration. The ASPIRE Prize helps us achieve our goals in the PPSTI to highlight the accomplishments of our researchers and support science and technology cooperation,” said Daniel Dufour, Chair of the APEC Policy Partnership for Science, Technology, and Innovation, which oversees the prize.  

“APEC’s 21 members aim to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth,” said Dr. Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, Executive Director of APEC Secretariat. “For over a decade, the ASPIRE Prize has inspired APEC’s leadership to develop evidence-based, policy recommendations to help support future generations of scientific discoveries. In fact, there is no better time to celebrate science and technology than during the pandemic as it drives home the value and importance of this field in our lives.”

For his achievement, Dr. Chen was awarded a prize of USD 25,000, supported by publishers of scholarly scientific knowledge, Wiley and Elsevier.

“We congratulate Dr. Chen for his outstanding work in wetlands biodiversity and continued commitment to international collaboration,” said Brian Napack, President and CEO of Wiley. “Year after year over the past decade, ASPIRE has reminded us about the values of APEC and values of global science. Only by working across borders and cultures will we solve the world’s most pressing challenges. Dr. Chen’s impactful work in biodiversity and climate change management is a testament to these values.” 

“As we have seen, COVID-19 has greatly impacted our societies and ability to research and collaborate with one another. Yet Dr. Chen and all our ASPIRE nominees have gone above and beyond in demonstrating their scientific talent, knowledge, and innovation to develop key solutions that preserve our planet’s biodiversity and economies,” said YoungSuk “Y.S.” Chi, Chairman of Elsevier.  “We have no doubt that their impressive work will spark new discussions in how we can better protect our planet and people in the years to come,” he concluded.

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