Brazilian wins UNESCO prize for popularising science

Bertoletti is the founder of South America's largest science museum Copyright: Science and Technology Museum

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[RIO DE JANEIRO] UNESCO has awarded Brazilian biologist Jeter Bertoletti the 2005 Kalinga prize in recognition of his work at the Science and Technology Museum in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil.

The prize, created by the India-based Kalinga Foundation Trust, is awarded annually to a recipient who excels in engaging the public with science and technology.

Bertoletti founded the museum in 1967, and built links between it and the Pontific Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, where he is a professor.

The museum has grown into the largest of its kind in South America, with more than five million items in its collection. It also runs three postgraduate courses and hosts 20 laboratories for teaching and research.

In 2001, Bertoletti launched the Travelling Museum Project, using a truck to take science exhibitions to smaller cities in Rio Grande do Sul — the southernmost state of Brazil — and a bus to bring people to the visiting museum.

Science centres and universities across Brazil have since successfully adapted the idea. 

Bertoletti, who has also published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, is the fifth Brazilian to win the prize.

UNESCO — the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — presented the annual award last week (10 November) at the World Science Forum in Budapest, Hungary.