Recipharm, a global contract development and manufacturing organization in the pharmaceutical industry, has named Amy Pruden, the W. Thomas Rice Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, as its 2020 International Environmental Award winner.

The award, which recognizes leading global innovators of environmental practice in the pharmacy and health care industries as well as academia, supports Recipharm’s long-standing commitment to sustainable development and was first introduced in 2008. Recipients are typically identified as individuals who have made highly recognized and important contributions in the environmental field in the pursuit of sustainability.

“We are delighted to present the 2020 award to Dr. Amy Pruden,” said Lars Backsell, chairman of the Recipharm board. “Her work, which has given deeper understanding of the microbial ecology of water systems, is widely recognized and highlighted. Her work concerning antibiotic resistance is particularly interesting since this is a known challenge for the pharmaceutical industry as well as the health care and agriculture sectors. Dr. Pruden’s research in this area is invaluable and will no doubt go a long way to identifying exactly how antibiotic use impacts risks in relation to antimicrobial resistance.”

Pruden is widely recognized for her work documenting antibiotic resistance genes as environmental contaminants. Her most recent research focuses on advancing practical means of antibiotic resistance monitoring, mitigation, and risk assessment in wastewater, recycled water, and other water systems.

She also serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology and has published more than 175 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters on bioremediation, pathogens, and antibiotic resistance. Additionally, Pruden is well known for her work in advancing the study of environmental microbiomes and designing water systems to prevent the colonization of pathogens, such as Legionella.

“I am very honored to receive this award and thank Recipharm for this recognition,” said Pruden. “Our success has really been a team effort, as tackling environmental and public health challenges requires expertise from many disciplines and perspectives. I especially would like to thank my many students for all of their hard work and dedication, and I hope that this award offers some inspiration for the future.” 

In addition to her research expertise, Pruden has also been recognized for her leadership in the teaching and mentoring of students, said Mark Widdowson, the civil and environmental engineering department head.

“Amy has become a world-renowned expert in the understanding of emerging pathogens in water systems,” he said. “Her dedication to students and the mission areas of research, teaching, and service to the public also serves as a model to our department at Virginia Tech.”

Recipharm, which is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, is a leading contract development and manufacturing organization in the pharmaceutical industry employing almost 9,000 employees. Its services include the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, production of clinical trial material, pharmaceutical product development, and development and manufacturing of medical devices.

The International Environmental Award prize ceremony will take place later this spring and will be set up in an appropriate format in consideration of COVID-19.