Rolex Announces Winners of International Awards For Enterprise
Five Prizes of US$100,000 and Five of $50,000 Awarded for Ten Groundbreaking Projects Worldwide
Rolex announced the ten winners of the 2008 Rolex Awards for Enterprise, which for more than 30 years have supported pioneering work in science and medicine, technology and innovation, exploration and discovery, the environment and cultural heritage. The award recipients hail from around the globe – from India, Jordan, Mexico, Paraguay, South Africa, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States – and join a global network of 110 visionaries from 38 countries who have received vital project support and recognition from the Swiss watchmaker since the Awards were founded in 1976.
The Rolex Awards fund new and ongoing projects that demonstrate a spirit of enterprise and address pressing needs around the world, from climate change, to wildlife and habitat preservation, to cultural preservation, to providing water, food, medical supplies and education for impoverished communities. Rolex will present US$100,000 each to five Laureates, who will be honored tomorrow evening (18 November) in a ceremony in Dubai – the first ever Rolex Awards ceremony held in the Middle East. Five Associate Laureates will each receive $50,000 at ceremonies in their home countries. All ten winners will also receive a Rolex chronometer.
“The Rolex Awards for Enterprise enable the work of global pioneers who are breaking new ground in their fields, and improving lives worldwide,” said Patrick Heiniger, Chief Executive Officer of Rolex. “We are proud to support these truly original thinkers, and salute them for their ingenuity and commitment of purpose.”
The 2008 Rolex Laureates – chosen from nearly 1,500 applicants in 127 countries by an independent panel of scientists, educators, economists and other experts – are:
Talal Akasheh (Jordan), 61, who, after devoting 26 years to documenting the ancient monuments of Petra, is creating an information system that will inform future conservation efforts at this beloved, yet threatened, historic site.
Tim Bauer (U.S.), 31, who is using breakthrough technology to retrofit polluting two-stroke vehicle engines that are common in the Philippines, helping to alleviate a major environmental and public-health risk in South-East Asia.
Andrew McGonigle (U.K.), 35, a physicist who is developing a new means to safely and reliably predict volcanic eruptions using an unmanned aircraft.
Andrew Muir (South Africa), 43, a conservationist providing Aids orphans with life skills, training, and jobs in South Africa’s burgeoning ecotourism sector.
Elsa Zaldívar (Paraguay), 48, who is bringing an eco-friendly solution to her country’s housing shortage by creating composite building materials made of plant and plastic waste to construct affordable housing.
The 2008 Rolex Associate Laureates are: Alexis Belonio (Philippines), 48, creator of a new technology that transforms the waste from rice production into clean, affordable cooking fuel; Arturo González (Mexico), 44, an explorer and researcher excavating archaeological remains in submerged caves or cenotes on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula; Rodrigo Medellín (Mexico), 50, who is working to save Mexico’s indigenous bats through habitat protection and education; Moji Riba (India), 36, a film-maker helping to preserve and document the rich cultural heritage of India’s Arunachal Pradesh tribes; and Romulus Whitaker (India), 65, a lifelong conservationist who is establishing a network of rainforest research stations to document and protect the biodiversity of southern India.
The 2008 Rolex Award winners were chosen by an independent, voluntary jury of international experts, chaired by Patrick Heiniger. This year’s Selection Committee members are: Dr Vikram Akula, founder and CEO of SKS Microfinance, based in India and the United States; Etienne Bourgois, head of a French clothing company and expedition leader; Professor Denise Bradley, president of the Australian College of Educators; Dr Geh Min, ophthalmologist, environmentalist and president of the Nature Society of Singapore; Professor Farkhonda Hassan, Egyptian geologist and professor at the American University in Cairo; Dr Rodrigo Jordán, educator and explorer from Chile; Yolanda Kakabadse, Ecuadorian environmentalist and champion of sustainable development; Dr Phil Nuytten, Canadian pioneer of the commercial diving industry; Dr Ivo Pitanguy, plastic surgeon and director of the Ivo Pitanguy Clinic and Institute in Brazil; Dr Anatoly M. Sagalevitch, Russian oceanologist and head of the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology’s Laboratory of Manned Submersibles; Professor Emil Salim, professor of economics at the University of Indonesia; and Dr Kathryn D. Sullivan, director of the Battelle Center for Math and Science Education Policy at Ohio State University and former NASA astronaut.
Since its founding a century ago, Rolex has established a tradition supporting individual excellence and achievement around the globe. Through its two primary philanthropic programmes, the Awards for Enterprise and the Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, Rolex fosters innovation in science, exploration, conservation, and the arts worldwide.