Most people in foreign countries do not know Pakistan for its scientists and inventors. However, that does not mean that there is no scientific talent in Pakistan. The recent achievements by youngsters Shaheer Niazi and the NUST students who won first place at the Stanford Longevity Design Challenge may just be the tip of the iceberg. Senior scientist Dr. Shahida Hasnain has added to this list of honors by winning UNESCO’s Carlos J. Finlay Prize for microbiology.
UNESCO – which stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – is one of the world’s leading scientific organizations. The Carlos J. Finlay award is sponsored by the government of Cuba. It is named after Carlos Juan Finlay, a Cuban physician and microbiologist famous for his discoveries in the field of yellow fever. The award is presented every two years since 1980. Shahida Hasnain is the second Pakistani scientist to win this prestigious award – the first being Dr. Sheikh Riazuddin, who won it in 1997.
Currently, Dr. Hasnain holds the position of Chairperson at the University of Punjab’s Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. She is also a founding member of this department. She has done extensive research in the field of microbiology. More than 250 of her research papers have been published in national and international scientific journals. According to the statement released by UNESCO,
“Professor Hasnain significantly contributed to advances in research in environmental, agricultural and medical microbiology. She has notably worked on the heavy metal detoxification mechanisms, salt stress tolerance mechanisms, and bacterial morphogenesis.”
Dr. Hasnain shares her prize with Bangladeshi scientist Dr Samir Saha. Both scientists will receive their prize on 6th November during the 39th session of the General Conference of UNESCO. The session will also serve as a meeting point for the 195 member states between 30th October and 14th November. The Pakistani and Bangladeshi laureates will each receive a prize of 5000 US dollars from the Government of Cuba and an Albert Einstein Silver Medal from UNESCO.