For her outstanding leadership and achievements upholding human rights, Zafra Lerman, Ph. D., has been named a recipient of the 2016 Andrei Sakharov Prize . She is a fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and the Royal Society of Chemistry (U.K.).
The $10,000 prize, awarded by the American Physical Society (APS), will be presented April 17, 2016, at the APS meeting in Salt Lake City.
An accomplished chemist, science educator and humanitarian, Lerman is the creator and chair of the organizing committee for the Biennial Malta Conferences, which promote international scientific cooperation and diplomacy as a bridge to peace in the Middle East. The conferences bring scientists from 15 Middle Eastern nations together with several Nobel laureates to solve regional problems, establish cross-border collaborations and build relationships of trust—especially between Israelis and Palestinians.
Lerman says she will donate the $10,000 prize money directly to the Malta conference, as she did with the $5,000 she received in February 2015 for the AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy.
After meeting Russian nuclear physicist, Soviet dissident and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov in 1989, Lerman took a Russian language course to facilitate her work with dissidents in the former Soviet Union. At great risk to her safety, she succeeded in preventing executions, releasing prisoners of conscience from jail and bringing dissidents to freedom. Lerman serves as a vice chair for chemistry of the Board of the Committee of Concerned Scientists, where she continues to be very active in human rights cases.
Lerman’s more than 40 national and international awards include the Kilby Laureate Award, the New York Academy of Sciences Pagels Human Rights for Scientists Award, the Presidential Award from President Clinton, the AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy and the ACS Parsons Award for outstanding public service to society through chemistry.
An accomplished science educator for many years, she developed an innovative approach to teaching science using art, music, dance, drama and cultural backgrounds, which proved to be extremely successful among underprivileged students around the world.
Lerman received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. She resides in Evanston, Illinois.
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