Dr. paul hebert, a prominent evolutionary biologist at the University of Guelph who pioneered the field of DNA barcoding. Benjamin Franklin Earth and Environmental Science Award Towards 2024.
Known as the “father of DNA barcoding,” Hébert’s groundbreaking work developed a technology that uses small segments of DNA to identify species, much like barcodes identify products in supermarkets. was recognized and awarded this medal.
This technology has helped make species identification faster, more accurate, and cheaper than previous methods, and now underpins global efforts to catalog all life on Earth.
of franklin instituteis an organization dedicated to promoting science and innovation and, since 1824, has awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal to scientists, engineers, inventors, and businessmen who change the world. The medal is the oldest general science and technology award in the United States, with past recipients including Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, and Marie Curie and Pierre Curie.
Evert is the fourth Canadian to receive this honor.
“I am thrilled to receive the 2024 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Sciences,” said Hebert. “Importantly, this award supports Canadian-led planetary research programs that provide humanity with the knowledge needed to better protect biodiversity from global change.”
Building the largest DNA bank for biodiversity
Hebert is the founder and CEO of . Biodiversity Genomics Center (CBG) inside Faculty of Biological Sciences He has raised $160 million over the past 20 years to support staff to develop infrastructure and increase capacity to lead major scientific programs.
Reflecting this commitment, CBG is the world’s first digital biodiversity archive, housing the largest DNA bank for biodiversity, a library of over 9 million images and sequences from over 15 million specimens. doing.
“We are extremely excited to see our own research receive one of the most prestigious awards in science,” said Dr. Charlotte Yates, U of G President and Vice-Chancellor. “From experts in genomics like Dr. Hebert to experts in agriculture, engineering, One Health and more, our academic and research excellence reflects the breadth of talent here at G of G. I am so grateful to be able to work with people from the real world.” Teachers in class every day. ”
The technology devised and developed by Hebert has become an innovative identification system with widespread application. This will allow scientists to identify all species on Earth through the nonprofit organization. international barcode of life (iBOL) consortium, headquartered at CBG. The consortium, of which Hebert is scientific director, brings together his more than 1,000 researchers from 41 countries with a common mission: to build a global DNA barcode reference library.
The project is set to be the largest biodiversity science project ever undertaken, with researchers using DNA barcoding to predict the past time using the traditional Linnaean classification system. More species can now be identified than in 275 years.
“This award is a well-deserved recognition of Dr. Hébert’s completely transformative work. DNA barcoding technology has literally changed how we see and know about life on Earth,” says the study. said Dr. Rene Van Acker, Deputy Director. “He has led the world’s largest life science big data project, creating the foundational knowledge for all efforts to preserve and improve life.”
Largest biodiversity science project ever undertaken
DNA barcoding is used in many applications, including controlling pests and diseases, detecting food fraud, assisting with resource management, and supporting conservation programs.
Metabarcoding is an innovative approach that enhances DNA barcoding by probing the genetic makeup of entire ecosystems. Scientists can use metabarcoding to simultaneously identify multiple species within a single soil, water, or air sample and compare them to a DNA reference library. This enables a comprehensive understanding of ecological dynamics and is useful for assessing biodiversity, monitoring ecosystems, and even tracking the spread of invasive species and disease vectors.
Recognized globally for his work, Mr. Hebert is the only Canadian scientist to win the Heineken Prize for Environmental Science (2018) and the MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity (2020).
Apart from his contributions to research, Hébert has inspired and mentored many students. For more than 30 years, he has taught research to nearly 1,000 undergraduate students through his field courses in the Canadian Arctic, Australia, and Jamaica.
He has also supervised 57 graduate students and 56 postdoctoral fellows as a professor at the university. Department of Integrative Biology Canadian Tier 1 Research Chair in Molecular Biodiversity. Reflecting his commitment to excellence and innovation, more than 40 students currently hold faculty positions and have left an indelible mark on the scientific community.
“Dr. Hébert has provided many students with unparalleled hands-on opportunities at the forefront of biodiversity, ecology, and evolutionary science at both the undergraduate and graduate levels,” said the College of Biological Sciences. said Dr. Majal Farah, Director of the Department.
“Through CBG, our students will learn innovative analytical and technical skills and position themselves as pioneers in biodiversity research to improve lives and secure a bright future for science.”
The award ceremony will be held on April 18, 2024 at the Franklin Institute, a science museum in Philadelphia, where Hebert will be formally recognized.
U of G media relations