Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ewango is environmental hero

The Current Online (the University of Missouri St. Louis student paper) article.

Corneille Ewango, a UM-St. Louis biology graduate student, won the Goldman Environmental Prize on April 18, 2005. The prestigious prize is given in recognition of significant and sustained contributions to environmental issues. It is usually given to a community organizer, but rarely to a scientist.

In 2002, Ewango worked at an ecological research station in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of its Senior scientists. As the Congo war continued and eventually overran the research station, other scientists left until only Ewango remained of the scientific staff. He not saved the Center's equipment by hiding it in the forest, but saved research data. He continued his research under these difficult conditions, and provided a symbol for the 2,000 villagers who depended on the research station.

Eventually soldiers seeking loot invaded the station, and interogated and beat Ewanga. At that point he used a laptop computer with satellite connection that he had hidden in the forest to contact his UNESCO and other colleagues to inform them he was leaving. He also got an email, informing him of his acceptance in a graduate program at the University of Missouri. He walked and hitched out (hitching a ride on a bicycle), and today is at the U.S. campus.

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