UMass Boston News

UMass Boston Researcher Recognized on Global Stage

Office of Communications | April 18, 2012
Distinguished Professor of Biology Kamaljit Bawa went to Norway to receive the Gunnerus Sustainability Award.

Kamaljit Bawa Noted for Pioneering Research on Population Biology in Rainforest Areas

Kamaljit Bawa, distinguished professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston and faculty fellow at the Center for Governance and Sustainability, received two notable honors this week.

On Tuesday, Bawa received the Royal Norwegian Society of Science and Letters’ first Gunnerus Sustainability Award, the world’s first major international award for work on sustainability. Bawa received the Gunnerus Gold Medal and the award of 1 Million NOK (U.S. $190,000) during a ceremony in Trondheim, Norway.

Also on Tuesday, Bawa was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Founded in 1780, the academy is a prestigious, independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems in the science, social policy, and humanities fields; Bawa was elected in the public affairs and journalism category, along with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I am overwhelmed. This is indeed a great honor. One dreams of getting such recognition, but really does not expect much in reality as there are a very large number of people out there doing extraordinary work,” Bawa said.

Bawa is most noted for his pioneering research on population biology in rainforest areas. His wide span of work includes groundbreaking biological discoveries made in Central America and in the Western Ghats and the Himalayas in India. He is particularly interested in developing conservation practices aimed at reducing poverty.

Bawa is the founder and president of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), a leading interdisciplinary research think tank in Asia. In January 2011, a University of Pennsylvania study ranked ATREE nineteenth among environmental think tanks in the world. Three years ago, Bawa cofounded the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in the Environment and Development (CISED), which later merged with ATREE. He joined the UMass Boston biology department in 1974.

“UMass Boston has been a home ever since I joined the university. I am deeply appreciative of the support I have received from my colleagues and the administration. I am proud that we have a world-class institution,” Bawa said.

About the Gunnerus Sustainability Award
The Gunnerus award is the first major international prize for outstanding scientific work that promotes sustainable development globally. It is named after the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters’ (DKNVS) founder, Bishop Johan Ernst Gunnerus (1718-1773), and is the result of a collaboration between DKNVS, Sparebank1 SMN, and the society Technoport. The award is given every two years.

About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex urban issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s eight colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit

Comments (1)

Posted by Arunthi Thiagalingam | January 09, 2013 - 10:04 p.m.

Congratulations, Dr. Bawa. Well deserved! We are very proud of your achievement. I consider myself very honored to have had you as my graduate advisor. 
With Warm Regards,

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