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The importance of the remarkable Dr Henry Lowe

Sunday, July 22, 2012

EVERY nation has been inspired by the brilliant achievements of their nationals. Their outstanding feats serve as inspiration to entire societies, especially when times are difficult and discouraging. Jamaica is no exception.

Uplifting accomplishments have resuscitated the will of a people demoralised by decades of unrelenting economic struggle. In our case, these inspirational acts have usually come in the area of politics -- for example, National Hero Marcus Garvey; sports -- as in the Hon Usain Bolt among countless others; and entertainment -- for example, the Hon Robert Nesta Marley.

Arguably, some Jamaicans have come to unconsciously assume that we only accomplish in certain fields of endeavour, which exclude areas such as science and literature. This is not true. But habituated to a diet of hero worshipping of entertainers and athletes, many Jamaicans are largely unaware of feats in less published areas.

Many Jamaicans assume that science and technology are subjects in which innovations and inventions are done in developed countries where there is money for research and development. Jamaicans are then supposed to quickly adapt to new technology, for example the cellular phone.

This state of affairs has several harmful consequences. First, Jamaicans have numerous scientific patents and scientific inventions of which the people of this land are unaware, and in some cases have no interest in. One of the effects of this neglect is that very few young Jamaicans view being a scientist as a possible career.

Second, there is the myth that scientific discoveries cannot be done in a poor developing country like Jamaica because of the lack of funding for research, the paucity of laboratories, outdated libraries, and the absence of modern equipment necessary for scientific research. This is true only in certain fields of investigation, but there are numerous other possibilities.

Third, when there is news of scientific breakthroughs by Jamaicans it is assumed that they accomplished their inventions abroad at institutions like the Massachussetts Institute of Technology or the Mayo Clinic. The issue here is the failure of Jamaica to attract its scientists back home and creating the environment for them to work. Which brings us to the remarkable Dr Henry Lowe.

Dr Lowe has numerous scientific achievements, including several inventions which have been patented and brought into commercial production. He is undoubtedly a brilliant scientist who is recognised worldwide. We are proud of him, however we write not only to praise him but to burnish the importance of his work.

Dr Henry Lowe was born and educated in Jamaica at local high schools, the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, and the University of Manchester. He has spent his career working in Jamaica at the UWI, in the Government of Jamaica and in his own business.

His inventions were accomplished while living and working in Jamaica and he was not funded by foreign institutions.

The importance of the inspirational Dr Henry Lowe is in his scientific achievements and in his example. He has proven that it is possible for a born and locally educated Jamaican, living and working in Jamaica, to be a world-renowned scientist.

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