Everglades Foundation attends Chicago Summit on Drinking Water Protection, Announces: The Grand Challenge A $10 Million Science Prize

Everglades Foundation attends Chicago Summit on Drinking Water Protection, Announces: The Grand Challenge A $10 Million Science Prize

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On September 24th, the Everglades Foundation joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative to discuss The Grand Challenge – a $10 million science prize to be awarded to anyone who can successfully develop and execute a process to remove excessive phosphorus from our waterways.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls nutrient pollution, “one of America’s most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems . . . resulting in serious environmental and human health issues, and impacting the economy.’’

A major culprit is phosphorus. According to the EPA, 40 percent of the nation’s rivers and streams have high levels of phosphorus.

Phosphorus pollution is a national problem that is having a detrimental impact on the environment from the Great Lakes to America’s Everglades. Solving this problem will require innovative research and technology.

During the past 18 months, Everglades Foundation scientists have met with national and international experts from universities, state and federal agencies, industry representatives, as well as business and government leaders, to study the concept and develop criteria for the prize.

After extensive research, the Everglades Foundation decided to move forward with The Grand Challenge. Applicants for the $10 million prize will be carefully screened, required to meet certain benchmarks, and have their results monitored by an independent panel of scientists.

Formal launching of The Grand Challenge will take place in February 2015. We expect the $10 million prize to be awarded by 2022. In addition, a series of smaller prizes, totaling $1 million, will be awarded to those who successfully contribute to the process of removing phosphorus and finding other uses for recycled phosphorus.

The winning technology must be scalable, cost effective and able to perform under variable conditions in both cold and warm weather climates.

Everglades Foundation Chief Scientist Dr. G. Melodie Naja will oversee the research effort on behalf of the Foundation. During the coming months, the independent panel of scientists will be formed, criteria for success will be completed, benchmark timelines will be structured, and an Everglades Foundation team will be in place to administer The Grand Challenge.

“The Field family has been part of Chicago and the Great Lakes region for more than 150 years. I am extremely proud that the Everglades Foundation is offering this $10 million prize that could help everyone who depends on the Great Lakes for their water supply,” said Marshall Field V, vice chairman of the Foundation’s board of directors.

“In the months ahead, we look forward to being joined by public and private partners who have the vision to support this effort and help make The Grand Challenge a success,” said Mr. Field.

“We are extraordinarily grateful for the generous $10 million gift to be awarded to the winner of The Grand Challenge,” said Dr. Maurice Ferré, chair of the Everglades Foundation The Grand Challenge Committee.

“Phosphorus pollution is destroying waterways around the globe, diminishing sea life and wildlife, threatening human health, and, as recently happened in Toledo, Ohio, caused the shutting down of the city’s water supply. We believe that The Grand Challenge will lead us to a solution that will restore the health of our waterways, improve the ecosystem, and protect our water supply,” said Dr. Ferré.

“This is the most ambitious effort ever undertaken by the Everglades Foundation,” said Eric Eikenberg, Everglades Foundation CEO. “The Grand Challenge is a tremendous opportunity to provide a solution to one of our most daunting environmental problems.

About the Everglades Foundation

The Everglades Foundation is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3), science based organization dedicated to the restoration and protection of America’s Everglades. Founded in 1994, the Everglades Foundation science, education, communication and advocacy teams work diligently each day to accomplish this goal. evergladesfoundation.org

About Marshall Field V

Mr. Field is vice chairman of the Everglades Foundation Board of Directors. He is the fifth generation of a Chicago family whose activities have included merchandising, real estate, publishing, communications and civic affairs. He is Chairman of the Board of The Field Corporation and President of The Old Mountain Company, Inc. He is a graduate of Harvard College and has served as publisher of the Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Daily news. Field was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Art Institute from 1965 to 2012 and a member of the Board of Trustees of Rush University Medical Center since 1970. In 2010, Mr. and Mrs. Field converted the Jamee and Marshall Field Foundation, which focuses on environmental and conservation issues, the arts and culture, education and health care to a donor advised endowment fund. He currently serves on various committees of the Chicago Community Trust. Field is a member of the Board of Directors of the Field Foundation of Illinois, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

About Dr. Maurice Ferré

Dr. Ferré is a member of the Everglades Foundation Board of Directors and serves as chair of The Grand Challenge committee. In 2004, Dr. Ferré became the founding president and chief executive officer of MAKO, a developer of innovative techniques for robotic orthopedic surgery. In 2011, Deloitte recognized MAKO as the fastest growing technology company in North America. In December 2013, the South Florida based robotic surgery manufacturer was sold to Stryker Corp. of Michigan, a Fortune 500 company, for $1.65 billion. In 1993, Dr. Ferré founded Visualization Technology, Inc., a medical device company for image-guided surgery, where he served as chief executive officer until April 2002 when Visualization Technology was acquired by GE Healthcare. In 2007, Dr. Ferré received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for emerging companies in Florida. Dr. Ferré received his Medical Degree and a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Boston University.

About Dr. G. Melodie Naja

Dr. G. Melodie Naja is the Everglades Foundation’s chief scientist. Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Naja was a research officer at the National Research Council of Canada and visiting professor at McGill University in Montreal. She holds a bachelor’s degree in physical chemistry, a master’s degree in molecular and physical chemistry and a doctorate in environmental physical chemistry and chemical engineering from the University Henry Poincaré. Dr. Naja has conducted research as a consultant for government institutions, non-governmental organizations and the corporate sector.

See the press release here.