Former IISc professor and ecologist Madhav Gadgil has been named for the top environmental Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement along with an American marine biologist Jane Lubchenco from Oregon State University.
Both recipients will share the $200,000 cash prize that is awarded for leadership in environment. Gadgil is the second Indian after Green Revolution pioneer MS Swaminathan to receive the the Tyler Prize that was established by the late John and Alice Tyler in 1973 and is administered by the University of Southern California.
Gadgil, a D. D. Kosambi Visiting Research Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies at Goa University, is known for his work in preservation of ecology in the Western Ghats and he headed several expert panels in India on forest conservation.
He has set up new methods for locals to monitor biodiversity through “People’s Biodiversity Registers” in conjunction with India’s Biological Diversity Act and helped reform resource management in India, leading to increased forest preservation in culturally significant locations such as Silent Valley National Park.
Lubencho from Oregon State University, is an expert on marine biology spreading awareness of ocean conservation and sustainability. She has worked as the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where she combined ocean science with different regions and fishing communities.
Her unique ‘catch share’ model helped conservation of marine resources. She was also the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the International Council for Science and the Ecological Society of America.
The Tyler Prize Executive Committee said a banquet and an award ceremony will be held in honor of both Gadgil and Lubencho on April 24, 2015.
Born in Pune in 1942, Gadgil studied M.Sc. in Zoology from Bombay University and in 1965 moved to Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. in Biology for his thesis in mathematical ecology, which quickly became a citation classic.
Next he received an IBM Fellowship at the Harvard Computing Center, and he stayed on at the university as a lecturer in biology. In 1971, Gadgil returned to India to support the applications of ecological research and began his work as a scientific officer for the Maharashtra Association for Cultivation of Science in Pune.
In 1973, he helped set up the Centre of Theoretical Studies at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, where he was able to set up the Centre for Ecological Studies in 1983. He worked at the Indian Institute of Science for more than 30 years, taking on roles that range from Assistant Professor to Chairman.
He was also responsible for one of the first thorough censuses of India’s wild elephant populations, that has continued ever since and monitored through the work of the Indian Institute of Science.
Dr. Gadgil has chaired the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, also known as “the Gadgil Commission” that has made recommendations for ecological balance with a sustainable development model in mind. Dr. Marcus Feldman, Professor of Biology at Stanford University, said, “no one has done more to develop ecology and environmental studies in India than Madhav Gadgil.”
The award was given to Indian Green Revolution pioneer M.S. Swaminathan in 1991 and to Indian-origin Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan in 2009 from California for his original research in Climate and Atmospheric Science including his contribution to develop alternative stove approach to mitigate global warming in the Himalayan glaciers.