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Samuel Wasser receives prestigious Albert Schweitzer Medal

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - 09:30

A University of Washington professor has been awarded the prestigious Albert Schweitzer Medal for his work for developing noninvasive tools for monitoring human impacts on wildlife. Samuel K. Wasser was honored in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Tuesday evening. The award was presented by Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell.

“I’m just heartened. It’s very hard work to do. It’s stressful and frustrating,” Wasser said. “The award really makes me happy.”

Wasser has pioneered noninvasive methods to measure the abundance, distribution and physiological condition of wildlife from their feces, relying on detection dogs to locate these samples over large wilderness areas. Notably, he used elephant dung to assemble a DNA reference map of elephants across Africa, which is now widely used to determine the geographic origins of poached ivory. 

This work has led to prosecutions of major transnational ivory traffickers and nurtured key collaborations with the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime, INTERPOL, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, the Task Force on Combatting Wildlife Trafficking, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of State and wildlife authorities in numerous source and transit countries across Africa and Asia.

“It was Sam’s science that really clinched this,” said Elliott L. Harbin, program manager, Environmental Crimes, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations.

Read the original article in UW News.

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