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Academy's Dr. Jon Gelhaus Named 'Best Scientist'

November 16, 2011

Dr. Jon Gelhaus

A Philadelphia scientist who is leading a multinational effort to improve water quality monitoring and standards in Mongolia has received an award for his work from the central Asian nation.

Dr. Jon Gelhaus, an evolutionary biologist at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, recently received the “Best Scientist in Nature and Environment” medal for his “significant contribution in Mongolian Environmental Science.” The award was issued by the Mongolian Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism through the Mongolian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Gelhaus, who is a curator in the Academy’s Entomology Department, has been conducting research in Mongolia for 15 years. He is the lead principal investigator for the Mongolian Aquatic Insect Survey, a multiyear project to document the diversity of insects that live in or near freshwater and to relate that diversity to patterns in evolution, ecology and water quality. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation. Currently, scientists are probing the waterways of the Altai Mountains and southern Hangai Mountains in western Mongolia. Previous surveys were conducted in the Lake Hovsgol Basin and the Selenge River Basin, both in northcentral Mongolia.

Gelhaus, in collaboration with researchers at universities in the U.S., Europe and Mongolia, is working to improve scientific facilities for identification and analysis of biological samples; enhance water quality monitoring standards, and train young Mongolian scientists and students to carry on the work of the initiative.

---Carolyn Belardo, the Academy of Natural Sciences