Runners-up for the 2018 Letten Prize

(Listed in alphabetical order)


“Robert Aldridge (from the UK) is affiliated with University College London. His fields of research are epidemiology, public health, migration, and data science. His interest in migration is both timely and relevant in the context of the present call. Aldridge is spot on when he asks for better data, evidence and accountability in the current discourse on migration.

Aldridge is member of the Lancet Commission on Migration and Health. In this capacity he has studied health outcomes for international migrants. He has identified significant voids in our knowledge of this important issue. There is an urgent need to attend to migrants’ right to health and to come up with the data that are needed for sound decision making.

Aldridge has made significant contributions in this field. He has examined the risk of tuberculosis among international migrants and showed how this risk can be alleviated by improved screening. This work has informed new guidelines and has received much attention internationally.

His research plan is focused on the establishment of a Migration and Health Observatory. The idea is that this observatory will provide data on the size and health outcomes of the world’s migrant populations and create a monitoring framework within the realm of UN’s sustainable development goals.  The Observatory will also develop a training program set to challenge prejudice and racism in the public discourse on migration and migration politics. Accountability will be another key issue for the proposed platform.

Aldridge has published in leading international journals including the Lancet and has worked creatively across disciplines to shed light on the health challenges of the migrant populations. He has an impressive track record when it comes to academic and clinical experience and is the recipient of several prizes and awards. His work goes back to the roots of epidemiology as a discipline set to highlight social inequality.

In sum, Aldridge has addressed one of the major challenges in present day society – the health and health care of the world’s migrant populations. He has worked across borders and disciplines and has impacted international guidelines. His plan for a Migration and Health Observatory is original and timely. Aldridge is a highly qualified runner-up for the Letten Prize.” – The Letten Prize Committee 2018.


“Nassim El Achi (from Lebanon) is affiliated with Global Health Institute-American University of Beirut. Her fields of research are water and environmental management, and water and energy policy. She states in her application that it is a major aim of hers to mitigate water insecurity of marginalized communities in Lebanon. El Achi has a PhD in chemistry and obtained an MSc degree in water management at the University of Oxford. Her work has addressed how water supply is managed in the Middle East – a complex issue that is relevant also for other parts of the world where water is in short supply. She writes in her application that the results of her work will be published in the course of 2019.

El Achi has joined the Lebanese Committee for Environment and Sustainable development (LCESD) so as to put her skills to good use for the Lebanese society. She is involved in a project that aims to ensure equitable access to piped water in Tripoli. In another project she hopes to mitigate water insecurity among Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The latter project is the one she describes in more detail. The project is based on harvesting of rainwater. The technology is not original by any means, but has not been adopted in Lebanon thus far. The implementation of rainwater harvesting necessitates a change in culture and behavior and thus entails challenges that go far beyond the technological ones.

Syrian refugees now amount to near 25% of the total Lebanese population and it is an issue of urgency to ensure adequate water supply to the refugees as well as to the local residents. In this context the work of Nassim El Achi is of utmost importance. Her work should be seen as an integral part of the peace building process in the Middle East.

Nassim El Achi is still early in her career but has published 12 papers already and has received awards for her communication skills as well as for the quality of her PhD.

Nassim El Achi is a chemist who has seen something bigger. She uses her education and skills for the benefit of marginalized people. While focused on the Middle East, her work has impact far beyond this region. Scant water resources fuel distrust and conflicts in many parts of the word, creating an urgent need for new approaches to secure clean and safe water supplies. This is not so much a technological challenge as a political and cultural one. Nassim El Achi is a highly qualified runner-up for the Letten Prize.” – The Letten Prize Committee 2018.



“Sophie Harman (from the UK) is affiliated with Queen Mary University of London. Her fields of research are international relations and global health with focus on feminism and global governance.

In her application she emphasizes her interest in addressing global challenges in the fields of global health and gender equality, with particular reference to HIV/AIDS and Ebola, as well as global health governance, gender, and African agency. Harman has published six books and more than 20 peer reviewed articles within these fields, has also been active in science dissemination and received several awards for her work. She has documented experience in research leadership, in organizing conferences and workshops, and in PhD mentoring. Harman has provided advice to WHO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and has established an NGO that enables people in rural Tanzania to access health care for HIV.

Harman’s research program sets out to develop a feminist approach to global health governance. She is right in pointing out that there is a need to explore how feminism and feminist theory can be applied to promote global health and health equity. The research program is described in rather general terms but is detailed enough when it comes to the dissemination aspects.

Global health governance is certainly center stage when it comes to present day global challenges, and her work has had – and will have – significant societal relevance. She is working across disciplines and she excels when it comes to science dissemination. Her research is highly relevant for UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and for goal 3 and 5 in particular. Harman is moving beyond the academy with a strong commitment to make a significant impact on global governance for health. In sum, Harman is a highly qualified runner-up for the Letten Prize.” – The Letten Prize Committee 2018.



“Jorge E. Viñuales (from Argentina) is affiliated with the Clare College, University of Cambridge. His fields of research are energy transition, water-food-energy nexus, climate change policy, environmental law and policy, and international law. His work and interests are truly interdisciplinary with a clear focus on major global challenges including climate change and energy transition. In his application he emphasizes his interest in the governance of sustainability transitions. This is certainly one of the most challenging issues embedded in UN’s sustainability development goals.

Jorge E. Viñuales is the founder of the Cambridge Center for Environment, Energy, and Natural Research Governance (C-EENRG). This is a truly interdisciplinary initiative that brings together engineers, physicists, ecologists, lawyers, economists, political scientists, and historians. The Center focuses on the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy with due attention to the risk of entering an era of widespread resource scarcity.

The proposed project includes a visiting fellowship scheme and expansion of the research to the water-health relationship. Efforts will be made to integrate economy, technology, and climate change in models that can be put to good use by political decision makers and that represent a significant advance over current models that often focus rather one-dimensionally on the carbon price. The planned research has implications across geographical borders and embodies a realistic and distinct dissemination component. Current dysfunctions in global governance are identified and will be duly addressed in the proposed research. The implementation plan appears somewhat premature and would have benefited from a more detailed description.

Jorge E. Viñuales has an impressive track record when it comes to publications and outreach. He addresses some of the most complex and pressing global challenges of present day society by drawing on a broad range of disciplines. He is a highly qualified runner-up for the Letten Prize.” – The Letten Prize Committee 2018.