NYMS is excited to honor Dr. Manu Prakash with the 2021 Ernst Abbe Award for his contributions to the field of microscopy, especially through his development of the Foldscope. The Foldscope is an optical microscope made from simple components, including a sheet of paper and a lens, that costs less than $1 to build. It was designed to be portable and durable, while performing on par with conventional research microscopes (140X magnification and 2 micron resolution). As part of the “frugal science” movement, the Foldscope enables communities around world to experience the wonders and excitement of microscopy.
Manu Prakash is a physical biologist applying his expertise in soft-matter physics to illuminate often easy to observe but hard to explain phenomena in biological and physical contexts and to invent solutions to difficult problems in global health, science education, and ecological surveillance. His many lines of research are driven by curiosity about the diversity of life forms on our planet and how they work, empathy for problems in resource-poor settings, and a deep interest in democratizing the experience and joy of science globally.
His lab works on “Frugal science” – building, designing. and deploying tools for scientific explorations globally. His work in frugal science spans disciplines with applications in global health, environmental monitoring and biodiversity discovery. The lab works in an open-source framework; so much of our work in frugal science is rapidly available to communities around the world and hence can be scaled. We have demonstrated that in the past with deployments of tools like Foldscope, Paperfuge, Octopi, Planktonscope and Pufferfish.