Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir, professor in environment and natural resources at the University of Iceland received the honorary awards from the Ása Guðmundsdóttir Wright prize fund for 2018. The prize is awarded for pioneering research in ecology and economics, sustainability, development of energy systems, and in the field of climate issues. It was Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, the President of Iceland, who presented the awards at a festive ceremony at the National Museum on 7 December. The award from the Ása Guðmundsdóttir Wright fund is given to an Icelandic research scientist who has excelled in their research or academic speciality and communicated their knowledge for the advancement of Icelandic society.
Brynhildur's research is interdisciplinary crossing the fields of biology and economics, and linked to environmental issues, climate, as well as energy affairs and sustainability. Brynhildur has studied the interplay between environment and biosphere and the human influence on both. She has entwined research in ecological economics displaying with models the effect of economic development on the environment and natural resources.
Brynhildur has received grants for diverse and essential research affiliated with many dire challenges such as the electrification of cars; future renewable sources of energy; environmental effects from geothermal power plants; the effects of weather changes on the North-Atlantic fishing stock, and how the fishing industry can work towards eco-business, and limit the emission of greenhouse gases. Brynhildur has, furthermore, studied the effect of climate changes in the Nordic countries on energy systems and land use. She has evaluated the economic importance of the service of ecosystems in addition to evaluation of terrestrial and sustainable ecosystems.
These diverse projects have been awarded grants from various parties including Rannís, Nordforsk, the European Union, and numerous smaller grants.
Brynhildur has edited books, peer reviewed book manuscripts and articles for numerous science journals, in addition to publishing a large number of articles in prestigious journals. In addition to her research, Brynhildur has been trusted with various responsibilities within the University of Iceland and been appointed for public boards and councils.
Brynhildur has supervised numerous postgraduate students in their research studied and given talks both in Iceland and abroad on her studies. She has been active in European collaboration and international work in the field of climate change and the effect of humans on their environment.
Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir was born on 29 July 1968. She completed her BS studies in biology and propaedeutic master studies in economics in 1990 and 1992. She then completed a double master in international relations and resource and environmental management from Boston University in 1995, and a Ph.D. in Energy and Environmental Studies in 2002 from the same university. Brynhildur's husband is Einar Örn Sigurdórsson and they have two daughters.
About the awards
Ása Guðmundsdóttir Wright, the founder of the trust, was born in Iceland 12 April 1892. Ása lived an eventful life, travelled abroad and studied nursing and midwifery in London. She stayed with Lord Buckmaster the Palace majordomo so she got an audition with the King. During her sea voyage home after her studies she met an English lawyer, Dr. Henry Newcomb Wright, who later became her husband. Ása and Henry immigrated to Trinidad in the West-Indies, then a British colony. They ran a plantation there in the beautiful setting in Arima Valley. Ása and Henry had no children and Ása gave her land to birdwatching and founded a nature resort for birds. The ranch, Spring Hill, is now the Asa Wright Nature Centre.
Ása used the profits in part to establish a fund affiliated with the Societas Scientiarium Islandica (the Iceland scientific society), which as for the past 50 years acknowledged an Icelander who has made a substantial scientific achievement in Iceland or for Iceland. The acknowledgement is a document of recognition and a silver coin with a bas-relief of Ása and the logo of the Societas Scientiarium Islandica, the name of the recipient and year is engraved. A three million ISK comes with the acknowledgement from the foundation's well-wishers, Alcoa Fjarðarál and HB Grandi, but this is among the most substantial awards given to Icelandic scientists. The board thanks the well-wishers for their support.