Dr. Laura M Boykin has won the international Gifted Citizen Prize for 2017 in Puebla, Mexico as part of the La Cuidad de las Ideas Festival awarded November 18, 2017. Each year the Gifted Citizen Prize is given to the best social entrepreneurship project that has the ability to benefit 10 million people over the next six years. This international prize honors the passions of those that seek to develop real solutions to humanity’s most pressing issues. Those that are recognized with the Gifted Citizen Prize are celebrated for their ability to defy contemporary paradigms and generate pragmatic answers to the most urgent global needs. This year there were over 1700 applications and the top 32 were invited to Mexico to compete in the competition and Dr. Boykin came out on top and won the prize of one million pesos.
She presented the team’s latest project, The Cassava Virus Action Project, which is a network of researchers, farmers and industry people, collaborating to use a pocket DNA sequencer to improve the management of cassava viruses in east Africa. For the first time in September 2017, farmers struggling with diseased cassava crops can take immediate, positive action to save their livelihoods based on information about the health of their plants, generated using a portable, real-time DNA analysis device. The team now plans to expand the project; 800 million people worldwide depend on the threatened cassava crop. The project aims to reduce the risk of community crop failure and help preserve livelihoods.
The CVAP team will use the prize winnings to launch a node of the project in Kenya in early 2018 and the overall goal of the project is to scale up across the continent and touch the lives of millions of farmers in east Africa.