Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, October 2, 2023

Tufts professor receives U.N. award for cholera outbreak prediction methods

Shafiqul Islam, director of Tufts' Water Diplomacy Program, e Creativity Award in the seventh Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW) United Nations (U.N.) on Nov. 2   cholera outbreak prevention. Islam, who is also a professor in both the Tufts Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, was honored at the U.N. headquarters in New York in a ceremony presided over by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and PSIPW Chairman Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz. Islam he South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America According to Islam, he and his research team came up with a method for predicting cholera outbreaks by using satellites, which allow for a faster mobilization of resources and more preparation for highly vulnerable groups before the outbreak occurs. According to a 2011 National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) article, satellites were integral to Islam's research because they can pick out green patches of ocean water that indicate the presence of phytoplankton. The cholera bacteria live in microscopic aquatic organisms called copepods, which feed on phytoplankton. During the dry season in Bangladesh, where Islam conducted his research, river levels drop and ocean water comes in, bringing the cholera-infested copepods with it, according to NSIDC. Islam "Through prediction, we can actively aim to prevent it," he said. Islam
Islam collaborated with Ali Shafqat Akanda from the University of Rhode Island and Antarpreet Jutla from West Virginia University, two of his Ph.D. students who recently graduated from Tufts. He also noted that the research findings resulted from a collaboration between Tufts and the University of Maryland.

Kurt Pennell, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said that the team's interdisciplinary approach led to consistent and significant results in the field of cholera prevention and mitigations.

"We are grateful that [the U.N.] has not only recognized [the team's] achievements but also provided prominence to this timely and humane work," Pennell told the Daily in an email.

David Gute, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said that winning the PSIPW is an outstanding accomplishment.

"Professor Islam has made his career at the interface between disciplines which feature different ways of knowledge creation that require synthesis and integration," Gute said. "As a public health practitioner, I can attest to the importance of such work in being able to better to respond to the continuing challenges posed by this global scourge."