Three professors are recipients of the country’s highest award–the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (ORTT) this year–Prof Clement Imbert, Prof John Agard, and Prof Pathmanathan Umaharan.
It is the second time that three people will be honoured in a single ceremony since the ORTT was first established in 2008.
Prof Imbert, the uncle of Finance Minister Colm Imbert, will be honoured for his outstanding contribution in the spheres of Innovation, Education, and Culture and the Arts.
Imbert currently serves at the University of the West Indies as University Professor (Emeritus) in Mechanical/Metallurgical Engineering.
As part of both the engineering and education fraternity, he assisted in securing accreditation for the local engineering fraternity.
He has worked on several boards including the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) and the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT).
Imbert has contributed significantly to the development of the steelpan and is co-founder of the UWI Steelpan Development Centre.
He was also part of the five-member team that developed the G-Pan.
Speaking with Sunday Guardian hours ahead of the formal proceedings, which will be held at the President’s House, St Ann’s, tonight, Imbert expressed gratitude for being recognised by his countrymen, counterparts and colleagues.
He said, “It feels very good to be recognised for your individual effort.”
Imbert, who received the Chaconia Gold Award back in 2007, revealed he had also been honoured by the Association of Professional Engineers with the Career of Excellence Award which is their highest accolade, as well as UWI’s Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service.
Congratulating his fellow ORTT awardees, Agard and Umaharan on this achievement, Imbert commended both men on their respective accomplishments in creating environmental awareness/outreach and revitalising the local cocoa industry.
He said, “They are very deserving based on the work they have done.”
Imbert recalled Agard’s efforts to raise public awareness on the effects of climate change as well as environmental preservation and related areas, while he acknowledged just how much work Umaharan had invested in promoting the local chocolate industry.
Of Umaharan, he said, “He has been responsible for reviving the cocoa industry in T&T.”
“It’s a hard task because over the last 40 years or so, all the large cocoa estates in T&T have been neglected, and it’s been a hard task to bring it back as agriculture was neglected for a long time.”
When contacted, Agard too extended congratulations to his fellow awardees, as he said, “I have done so many projects and I am very pleased.”
Agard is the Executive Director of the Global Institute for Climate-Smart and Resilient Development at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
His research is widely recognised regionally and internationally, from natural resources management, water quality, marine and terrestrial ecology to the impact of climate change on natural and human systems.
He also served as co-chair of a group of independent scientists appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General to draft the second quadrennial Global Sustainable Development Report in 2023.
His vision is that of a society which recognises other forms of wealth including biodiversity that exist beyond the limit of GDP.
The third awardee, Prof Umaharan, is the Director of the Cocoa Research Centre, University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus.
Having led the conversion of the Cocoa Research Unit into a full-fledged Campus Centre, his research projects resulted in genetic approaches to overcome losses associated with disease, and improving tolerance to climate change.
This has led the way to the development of the first molecular breeding programme in cocoa, a global DNA fingerprinting service, a quality certification service and the improvement of cocoa quality.
Through his efforts, the UWI has now been named by the European Union as the top cocoa research institution globally.
Umaharan was specially nominated by the UWI for this award and it is the first time this has ever been done.
When contacted about being selected for the prestigious award, he said, “I feel elated and humbled.”
The Sri Lankan native who has lived in this country for the last 25 years and is now a T&T citizen admitted, “I worked really hard and am really grateful to be recognised by the country.”
He also commended colleagues Imbert and Agard as he celebrated, “I know how hard they have worked in their respective fields, and they are all deserving of this.”
The ORTT replaced the Trinity Cross for distinguished and outstanding service to the country–and can be awarded to any citizen as well as non-citizens.
While it can be awarded posthumously, a deceased recipient does not become a member of the Society.
Meanwhile, the Chaconia Medal may be awarded for Long and Meritorious Service/ tending to promote national welfare/or strengthen community spirit in the Republic of T&T.
Chaconia Medal, GOLD
1. Dr Bruce Paddington
2. Dr Jacqueline Sharpe
3. Langston Roach
4. Sieunarine Persad Coosal
Chaconia Medal, SILVER
1. Ainsworth Mohammed
2. Dr Calvin Inalsingh
3. Carlos Hee Houng
4. Francine Edwards also known as Singing Francine–(Posthumously)
5. George Leacock
6. Dr Radica Mahase
7. Rishi Lakhan
8. Prof Surujpaul Teelucksingh MOM
The Humming Bird Medal may be awarded for Loyal and Devoted Service/in any field of human endeavour/or for gallantry/or other humane action/to the Republic of T&T.
Humming Bird Medal, GOLD
1. Azamuddin Khan
2. Azim Bassarath
3. Carol Ann Birchwood James
4. Shihan Marva John-Logan
5. Reynold Howard
6. Richard Escalante
7. Rukminee Holass Beepath
8. Samuel Badree
9. Wayne Bertrand (Posthumously)
Humming Bird Medal, SILVER
1. Ashton Ford
2. Carl Birjah
3. Dr Daniel Parks
4. Eric Mc Cree
5. Harvey Borris
6. Imam Imtiaz Ali (Posthumously)
7. Jim Phillip
8. Kenneth Ferguson
9. Pastor Wilma Kelly
Humming Bird Medal, BRONZE,
1. Rachel Bhagwandeen (Posthumously)
The Public Service Medal of Merit/may be awarded for Outstanding and Meritorious Service to the Republic of T&T.
Public Service Medal of Merit, GOLD
1. Anthony Bartholomew
2. Beverly Khan
3. Enid A Zephyrine
4. Gwendolyn Loobie-Snaggs (Posthumously)
5. Leslie Reuben Hoyte
Public Service Medal of Merit, SILVER
1. John Lopez
2. Yasmin Rahaman-Singh
Past ORTT recipients
1. Dr Roshan Parasram, Chief Medical Officer–2022; and Prof Sterling Frost, banker–2022
2. Dr Wayne Frederick–surgeon– 2020
3. Dr Hollis Liverpool, educator/calypso icon–2019
4. Wendell Mottley, former government minister–2018
5. Dr Lenny Saith, former minister–2017; Mc Cartha “Calypso Rose” Lewis, calypsonian–2017; and Prof Courtenay Bartholomew, HIV/Aids researcher–2017.