New England Biolabs® Announces 2016 Passion in Science Awards® Recipients

Fifteen inspiring scientists recognized for achievements in creativity, environmentalism, humanitarianism and science mentorship
IPSWICH, MA, (September 7, 2016) — New England Biolabs, Inc. (NEB®) today announced the winners of their Passion in Science Awards, which acknowledge scientists for inspirational and innovative work that transcends the boundaries of pure science, and has profound impact on other fields, including the arts, humanitarian service, environmental stewardship and science mentorship. This November, NEB will host 15 visionary scientists from around the world at its Ipswich, MA headquarters, where they will receive their awards and share their personal stories of success and inspiration.

Protecting the health of nearly four billion people around the world from life-threatening viral diseases is no easy task for scientists, but that has not intimidated Scott O’Neill, a 2016 Passion in Science Awards recipient. As Director of the nonprofit “Eliminate Dengue” program in Australia, O’Neill is on a mission to stop the spread of dengue fever, a debilitating mosquito-borne disease that, in severe cases, has become a leading cause of death among children and adults in developing countries. His team developed a method to control mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus by infecting them with Wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacteria that prevents the virus from being transmitted to humans. After a successful field trial in Australia in 2011, O’Neill is exploring new ways to introduce the technology in high-risk countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil and Columbia.

“The dedication and conviction of our award recipients is awe-inspiring,” said Jim Ellard, Chief Executive Officer at NEB. “These men and women are enriching lives in ways that go well beyond the traditional definition of success for a scientist,” continued Ellard, “We are honored to be able to recognize them for their extraordinary efforts, especially since they exemplify the core values we embrace at NEB: passion, humility, creativity and being genuine.”
The full list of Passion in Science Awardees follows:
Category: Science Mentorship and AdvocacyAward®
  • Amanda Munson (Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA): inspiring high school girls to have an “I can” attitude about biotech careers through her educational outreach program.
  • David Ng (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada): challenging the status quo in traditional science classrooms through hands-on approaches — including creative writing and a crowdsourced STEM card game.
  • Chris Martine (Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA): reinvigorating student interest in botany through YouTube to reveal the rich biodiversity that often goes unappreciated.
  • Sabah Ul-Hasan (University of California, Merced, CA): producing a science documentary series for underrepresented audiences to spotlight the symbiotic relationship between humans and the environment.

Category: Environmental Stewardship Award®

  • Alexandra Polasko (University of California, Los Angeles, CA): developing a low-cost test to search for natural bacteria that can biodegrade hazardous contaminants in groundwater.
  • Lisa Anderson (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA): launching a laboratory glove-recycling program to reduce lab waste and “upcycling” uncontaminated gloves into new materials such as chairs and park benches.
  • Lucy Lahrita (Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan): curbing the accumulation of non-recycled plastic waste in landfills by converting them into synthetic fuel for clean sustainable energy.
Category: Humanitarian Duty Award®
  • Karishma Bhagani (Matone de Chiwit, Farmington, CT): purifying water through the distribution of locally sourced, all-natural water purification units in rural communities around the globe.
  • Nina Dudnik (Seeding Labs, Boston, MA): breaking down socio-economic borders within the scientific workforce by providing high-quality lab equipment to scientists in developing countries.
  • Scott O’Neill (Monash University, Clayton, Australia): controlling virus-spreading mosquitos by infecting them first to stop the spread of diseases like dengue fever.
  • Lucia Prieto Godino (University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland): bridging the scientific gap between African and western scientists through a non-profit organization.  
Category: Art and Creativity Award®
  • Scott Chimileski (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA): combating our society’s fear of the unseen by spearheading an exhibit on microbes to capture its beauty, natural history and value.
  • Dana Simmons (University of Chicago, Chicago, IL): isolating neurons and injecting them with colorful dyes to generate digital brain art.
  • Christine Liu (University of California, Berkeley, CA): uniting scientists and artists together to create informative “zines” to help bring science to wider audiences.
  • Wilbur Ryan (Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL): bringing back the ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ approach to teach students across the country about the foundations of ecology through short films.

More information on the winners and recordings of their inspiring talks will be made public at following the event.
About New England Biolabs

Established in the mid 1970's, New England Biolabs, Inc. (NEB) is the industry leader in the discovery and production of enzymes for molecular biology applications and now offers the largest selection of recombinant and native enzymes for genomic research. NEB continues to expand its product offerings into areas related to PCR, gene expression, sample preparation for next generation sequencing, synthetic biology, glycobiology, epigenetics and RNA analysis. Additionally, NEB is focused on strengthening alliances that enable new technologies to reach key market sectors, including molecular diagnostics development. New England Biolabs is a privately held company, headquartered in Ipswich, MA, and has extensive worldwide distribution through a network of exclusive distributors, agents and seven subsidiaries located in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the UK. For more information about New England Biolabs visit

Contact information:
Deana D. Martin, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Marketing Communications
New England Biolabs
240 County Road Ipswich, MA 01938
Tel: 978-380-7464


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