Professor Mandë Holford Named a World Economic Forum Sustainability Pioneer

Professor Mandë Holford

Professor Mandë Holford (GC/Hunter, Biochemistry, Biology, and Chemistry), whose lab researches how deadly venom from fish-eating snails might be used to develop drugs for cancer, pain, and many other diseases and conditions, has been selected for the first cohort of World Economic Forum (WEF) Sustainability Pioneers. 

The Sustainability Pioneers includes entrepreneurs, innovators, and scientists who are tackling challenges to achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Holford is the only U.S. public university researcher in a group that includes professors from the University of Cambridge to the University of Stuttgart.

“The Sustainable Development Goals are an acknowledgment that planetary and human health and well-being are not in sync, and we need to find balance,” Holford says. “And due to the nature of global challenges from COVID-19 to climate change to food scarcity, a lot of the goals require innovation in science and technology to achieve lasting solutions.” 

Holford, who co-founded the edtech company Killer Snails, plans to continue her work on “bringing science out of the laboratory and into classrooms and increasingly, in COVID-19 times, into living rooms,” she says. “We want our games to resonate with and engage women and other underrepresented groups to participate and pursue careers in STEM.”

She also plans to work on a new initiative, 2030STEM, that is focused on addressing the systemic and institutionalized racism that hinders Black and Latinx individuals from entering and excelling in STEM. “Radically ramping up the numbers of Black and Latinx STEM professionals will create the diverse workforce needed to change STEM culture, policies, and institutions in order to accelerate scientific progress by unleashing latent talent,” she says. “And that will give us the creativity, expertise, breath of understanding, and depth to address the cross-border STEM challenges of our time, ranging from global health to climate change.”

Holford was previously named a New Champion Young Scientist by the World Economic Forum. “Being named a WEF Sustainability Pioneer feels like a license to get into ‘good trouble,’ as the late John Lewis used to say,” she says. “It’s a sort of play-break-fix button to really engage with like-minded thinkers who want to achieve these ambitious goals and can envision a path towards doing so.”

Submitted on: SEP 30, 2020

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