Zafra M. Lerman, creator and advocate for the Biennial Malta Conferences, which promote international scientific cooperation and diplomacy by convening scientists from 15 Middle Eastern nations, has been chosen by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to receive the 2014 Award for Science Diplomacy.
Lerman—an accomplished chemist, science educator, and humanitarian—serves as president of the Malta Conferences Foundation. She was honored by AAAS for her efforts to “elevate the use of scientific cooperation as an instrument of peace, and as a pathway to better understand the role of science in addressing major societal challenges in the broader Middle East, despite the political barriers that exist at the official levels.”
The Biennial Malta Conferences bring together scientists from Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates to collaborate on shared science-based concerns such as regional water quality, solar-energy conversion and storage, science curricula, green chemistry, and chemistry safety and security. (Reports on the Malta Conferences have regularly appeared in Chemistry International since 2004; a compilation of these references and many others is available at www.maltaconferencesfoundation.org)
AAAS Chief International Officer Vaughan Turekian said: “Many of the scientists who participate in the Malta Conferences could not otherwise meet face-to-face because of tensions between governments. Dr. Lerman has brought together scientists at all levels, from Nobel Prize winners to early-career researchers and students, to build collaborative links that extend beyond scientific interactions.”
The AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy dates to 1992. It recognizes an individual or small group working in the scientific and engineering or foreign affairs communities making an outstanding contribution to furthering science diplomacy. Renamed in 2010 by the AAAS Board of Directors, the Award consists of a plaque and an honorarium of $5,000. The AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy was bestowed upon Lerman during the 181st AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, California, 12-16 February 2015.
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