Dr Lynwill G Martin receives the GEO Prestigious International Award

An exciting moment to wrap-up the GEO week for the South African Group on Earth Observations (SA-GEO) community, as our Dr Lynwill Martin, the Lead Scientist at Cape Point Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Station, husband, father, and proud guitarists from Stellenbosch, wins the prestigious international award by the Group on Earth Observations, on Thursday 02 November 2022, during the GEO week, in Accra, Ghana.

Dr Martin currently manages the South African Mercury Network (SAMNet), that is hosted by the South African Weather Service (SAWS) and funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), as part of SA-GEO’s contribution towards the Global Observation System for Mercury (GOS4M), a GEO Flagship Program.

Accordingly, SAMNet/GOS4M is aimed to support the Minamata Secretariat, and all Nations in the implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the activity related to the Effectiveness Evaluation and Global Monitoring framework. It assists other countries and Parties and promote capacity building for filling existing geographical gaps. Engagement with relevant user communities and other stakeholders is of crucial importance for this Flagship, making sure its objectives are in tune with the real-world problems and its results provide adapted solutions.

This initiative was started on 1 April 2020 during the peak of a global pandemic, when the rest of the world was going into lockdown, when Dr Martin and his team decided to take things up a notch and start a new project aimed to determine the status and trends of atmospheric mercury concentrations in South Africa. Despite this, “we are on target with all our deliverables and this just shows that with the needed resources and a great team around you, we can deliver” say Dr Martin. He further elaborates that the award also “indicates that we are making an impact in South Africa and in Africa, and If we use SAMNet as a blueprint, the issue of the lack of mercury data in Africa can be address, as we will then be able to start filling in the data gaps on the continent. 

Receiving the award means a lot to Dr Martin because “as scientist we don't always receive recognition for our work, so I'm very thankful that the research I'm doing is noticed on the international scene”.

Several institutions and programmes were instrumental in supporting the SAMNet initiative such as the Stellenbosch/Cape Point Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) colleagues or rather GAW Family, SAWS Research and Support staff, the DSI Team from the Earth Observations and Space Science & Technology Directorate, SAMNet partners and the international mercury community.

The GEO Outstanding Individual award was launched in 2019 by the GEO Programme Board and presented annually to individuals in the GEO community who have demonstrated remarkable personal commitment to the GEO mission and vision. The awards celebrate achievements such as generating social impact, influencing policies, and advancing a diverse and inclusive GEO

We commend Dr Lynwill on representing the good work that South African Scientist are conducting on the national and global landscape and the DSI for their continued harvesting and support of the local talent.

For more information, please contact the National Earth Observations and Space Secretariat (NEOSS), an initiative of the Department of Science and Innovation that is managed and hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) at info@neoss.co.za 

By Lulu Makapela, NEOSS