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colwellislam2Congratulations to Shafiqul Islam, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Professor of Water Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, who was recently awarded the Creativity Prize for the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW).

The prize is awarded to Islam and his team member Dr. Rita Colwell, University of Maryland at College Park, for developing and testing a model that uses chlorophyll information from satellite data to predict cholera outbreaks at least three to six months in advance.

Dr. Rita Colwell is an internationally acclaimed oceanographer and microbiologist who has spent the bulk of her career studying the V. cholerae bacterium that causes cholera. She and her colleagues have found V. cholerae in oceans around the world, in isolated lakes and rivers untouched by fecal contamination, and even in volcanic springs in Iceland. Colwell and her team were the first to use remote satellite data to develop a predictive model for cholera outbreaks in East Asia, and she is the first scientist to link global warming with a potential rise in cases of infectious disease.

Dr. Shafiqul Islam has applied Colwell’s findings to relate chlorophyll levels and cholera outbreaks in the Bay of Bengal. Using satellite data from NASA, he developed a satellite-based model to predict potential cholera outbreaks at least three to six months in advance. The model has been tested with chlorophyll information from satellites over the Bay of Bengal region to predict cholera outbreaks in Bangladesh. The team is currently working on testing the model with ground-based observations.

Islam is the director of the Boston Water Group, a diverse group of researchers and practitioners from academia, industry and civil-society, who are based in the Greater Boston region, but work across the U.S and around the world to address problems that involve water. The group organizes monthly roundtable discussions at Harvard with scholars from a variety of fields to identify a common language around understanding various water issues. Islam directed a panel on water and sanitation in South Asia at SAI’s Symposium in 2015: