Science in Society Archive

I-SIS Director Wins Science Award

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho wins 2014 Prigogine Medal for her pioneering work in the physics of organisms and sustainable system

Mae-Wan Ho, Director and co-founder of the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS), well recognized for her efforts to reclaim science for the public good and to promote social responsibility and ecological sustainability in science, is to receive the prestigious 2014 Prigogine Medal in recognition for scientific work in the physics of organisms and sustainable systems she pioneered more than 20 years ago.

The Prigogine Medal was established in 2004 by the University of Siena in Italy and the Wessex Institute of Technology in the United Kingdom in honour of Ilya Prigogine, who received the 1977 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for contribution to non-equilibrium thermodynamics, particularly the theory of dissipative structures that has inspired scientists and the general public alike. The main theme of Prigogine’s scientific work was the nature of time in the physical sciences and biology as engendered in the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Prigogine contributed significantly to the understanding of irreversible processes, and how dynamic order can arise in systems far from equilibrium (“order out of chaos”), which has had profound consequences for understanding biological and ecological systems.

Professor Carlos Brebbia, Director of Wessex Institute of Technology and head of the Prigogine Medal Committee is convinced that Prigogine’s ideas established the basis for ecological systems research. “The Prigogine Medal to honour his memory is awarded annually to a leading scientist in the field of ecological systems.” He says,“All recipients have been influenced by the work of Prigogine.” The Committee, consisting of past Prigogine Laureates, “overwhelmingly” supported the nomination of Mae-Wan Ho.

“I am so very pleased to receive this award, the first and only award I’ve ever had for contribution to science that really reflects my science.” The 2014 Prigogine Laureate says. “Prigogine inspired me very early on in my career. I used to attend every one of his lectures just to sit in awe, before I could understand any of his technical arguments.”

Prigogine initiated a new way of understanding living systems, she explains, and hopes that her award will encourage other scientists to follow his lead away from the dead end of mechanistic biology to a thoroughly organic approach that crosses all the disciplines (as Mae-Wan Ho herself has done).

Past Prigogine Laureates include quantum physicist Emilio Del Giudice, well-known for his contributions to quantum electrodynamics of condensed matter; Gerald Pollack, the world’s foremost researcher on “the fourth phase of water”; Robert Ulanowicz, theoretical network ecologist and philosopher; and Sven Jorgensen, systems ecologist and chemist.

Mae-Wan will be receiving the award at the start of the Sustainable City Conference to be held at the University of Siena 23 September 2014. During the award ceremony, she will deliver an inaugural public address on “Circular Thermodynamics of Organisms and Sustainable Systems”. She will explain how, by organizing activities in cycles over a range of nested space-times, organisms manage to approach thermodynamically the most efficient (zero entropy) transformation of energy and material simultaneously under equilibrium and far from equilibrium conditions. This confirms and extends Prigogine’s theory of minimum entropy production in living organisms, and has important implications for sustainable cities and other built environments as well as sustainable ecosystems and economic systems.

More on the award here:

For further information on the award ceremony and conference please contact Prof C.A. Brebbia:

Article first published 27/11/13

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There are 10 comments on this article so far. Add your comment above.

Gary Alexander Comment left 28th November 2013 04:04:51
BRAVO!!! Another step toward the light.

Christine Van Hooft Comment left 28th November 2013 05:05:45
Heartfelt Congratulations! This award is so well-deserved. Your work and publications have been a beacon of light in educating the world to the scientific importance of sustainability.

Dr. S. A. Alkaitis Comment left 28th November 2013 07:07:06
This could not have been given to a more deserving scientist, one who has consistently shown that all-too-rare combination of intellectual brilliance, integrity and courage - kudos!

Sbylle Gabriel Comment left 28th November 2013 19:07:34
Congratulations for this well deserved award and thank you for brilliant work and your courage.

Dr. Henry A. Becker Comment left 28th November 2013 19:07:25
My heartfelt congratulations on this very appropriate recognition of your extraordinary work and its impact, and of your qualities as a scientist and a thinking, feeling member of the human family. You've done more than enough, by any measure, for well-earned retirement; nevertheless, I wish you many more years of productive endeavour. While it may be that no-one is indispensable, you are one of the rare ones who are desperately needed in today's struggling, crisis-ridden world.

Mae-Wan Ho Comment left 28th November 2013 21:09:48
Thank you all who have commented here or sent me e-mails. I would not have got the award without the unstinting efforts of my colleagues in ISIS and ISIS members some of whom had supported our cause since the beginning. The significance of the award goes far beyond my personal contribution. It is a recognition of an approach to science we all share, that fully acknowledges our place within nature and our active participation in her process. Please consider all of you awarded!

Todd Millions Comment left 30th November 2013 20:08:33
Always a pleasure to here or see a comprhesivist rewarded.Both for scope depth and clarity. The agknowledgment may be over due-But time exists so everything doesn't have too happen at once. Congradulations too you and your accociates and colleagues.

Jan Dietrick Comment left 4th December 2013 10:10:32
Scope, depth and clarity are hallmarks of Dr. Ho's thought and presentations, coming from a truth-seeking place in a spirit of service to humanity and with profound courage under the circumstances. I am featuring Ban GMOs Now at my exhibits and presentation (Rincon-Vitova Insectaries) at Acres USA and Ecofarming Conference this mth and next. I need to find out how to best make the publication accessible to people at the conferences. I'm in Ventura, CA

Peter Brenton Comment left 13th December 2013 19:07:14
Brava and well deserved award. I believe she should also get more widespread recognition for her book 'GE Dream or Nightmare?.

Segundo Asensio Suarez Comment left 7th January 2014 05:05:55
enhorabuena por este reconocimiento. La humanidad siempre estara en deuda.Un saludo