2021 - All Press Releases

Strong set of submissions show how Early Career Researchers are tackling world’s most pressing problems

The 2021 Nature Research Award for Driving Global Impact shortlist released, highlighting innovative solutions to tackle sustainability, the environment, healthcare and water security.

London | New York, 14 September 2021

Tackling climate change and humanitarian crises around the world requires global action and innovation. This year’s Nature Research Awards for Driving Global Impact, part of the academic publisher Springer Nature, put a spotlight on those early career researchers whose critical work in climate, cities, environment, healthcare and food security could provide insight into future solutions.

As publisher of journals such as Nature Sustainability and Nature Climate Change, and through the creation of its new senior climate action role and dedicated sustainability team, Springer Nature continues to take decisive action to support the research community - not only across the content it publishes and through its operations, but also by leveraging its platforms to better support researchers in communicating and highlighting the change that is needed. The Nature Research Awards are a key example of that. 

Speaking on the shortlist Richard Hughes, VP Publishing, Nature, said: “We see examples everyday - and even more so across the last two years - of the vital role that research has on our social and global agenda. We also know that despite the vital impact of their work, some researchers are faced with challenges communicating and raising the visibility of the potential for their work to improve environmental and social outcomes. We remain committed to supporting researchers in this endeavour and through the Driving Global Impact awards aim to shine a spotlight. Each of the finalists deserves great recognition for the work they have done or are seeking to do on a number of pressing global challenges.”

With over 350 entries from 62 countries, this year’s 8 shortlisted researchers address challenges across healthcare protection, environmental intervention and food/water security, and include:

Muhammad Afzal, principal scientist at National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Pakistan, for his work addressing polluted soil and wastewater through self-sustaining, and environment-friendly technologies.

Zuzana Burivalova, principal investigator of the Sound Forest Lab, for her research into protecting biodiversity in tropical forests and her work to understand and communicate which conservation strategies succeed and fail in tropical forests.

James Hassell, wildlife veterinarian, epidemiologist and Keller Family Skorton Scholar for the Smithsonian’s Global Health Program and assistant professor adjunct of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health for his work in Kenya to improve the health of co-existing wildlife populations, human communities and their livestock, with a particular focus on urbanization as a driver of emerging pathogens.

Xu Hou, professor at Xiamen University for his research into membrane science and technology for water treatment - looking to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all.

Brenda Parker, associate professor in sustainable bioprocess design at the Department of Biochemical Engineering, UCL for her research on environmental biotechnology, sustainability and design to address and mitigate pollution.

Sant-Rayn Pasricha, head of the Population Health and Immunity Division for his research into global health nutrition, focusing on understanding and controlling the global impact of anaemia.

Helen Petousis-Harris, associate professor at the University of Auckland for her research into vaccine and immunisation-related research, with a particular focus on vaccine safety and vaccine effectiveness.

Xu Wang, professor of urban water Systems engineering at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology (Shenzhen), China for his research to promote resource efficiency and enhanced sustainability in wastewater management.

The shortlist will be assessed by a leading panel of environment, climate and sustainability experts, where each submission will be assessed on their scientific achievements, the potential for scientific impact of their research programme as well as its impact on global challenges. The winner will be announced in November.*

As a publisher, Springer Nature takes its role in disseminating and promoting trusted information on relevant scientific developments, sustainable development and climate action seriously. Through its suite of awards, including the DGI award, it looks to extend this commitment by providing platforms to support researchers in communicating the impact of their research, and extending the evidence based approach that drives change forwards. More on the publisher's commitment to sustainability and climate action can be found here.


Note to Editors:

*The winners and runners up will be announced in November. The winner will receive a grant of UDS 30,000. Two runners up will also be chosen and will receive grants of USD 10,000 each.

Full profiles for the shortlisted research can be viewed on nature.com.

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Sam Sule | Communications | Springer Nature