Helping paralyzed people walk again. Finding new uses for unrecyclable plastic waste. Preserving endangered wildlife. 

These are just a few of the problems undertaken by this year’s Laureates from the annual Rolex Awards, a distinction conferred for more than 40 years upon individuals with projects that advance human knowledge, protect cultural heritage or help preserve natural habitats and species. 

It’s just one reason we’re so proud to be an Official Rolex Jeweler. “Rolex is so much more than a watch company,” says Ryan Coffin, Vice President of Coffin & Trout Fine Jewellers. “They invest a great deal of money to constantly improve their timepieces, but what is little known is the amount of money that Rolex invests in improving humanity. The Rolex Laureates is just one example of the great things Rolex is sponsoring to help the advancement of society. We are proud to align with such a magnificent company.”

This Year’s Winners: “Anyone can change everything”

To demonstrate that just one person can make a world of difference, this year’s five changemakers are working on solutions that have the potential for global impact. In addition to receiving a Rolex, the Laureates were awarded funding from Rolex for their projects.

João Campos-Silva

João is a fisheries ecologist who partners with local associations and fishing leaders to save the giant arapaima—the world’s largest scaled freshwater fish that has fed Amazonian people since early human society—from extinction, along with the livelihoods and culture of the Amazon’s indigenous communities.

Grégoire Courtine

Grégoire is a French researcher and medical scientist who is developing a treatment and seeking a cure for spinal cord injury. His goal: An implantable neuroprosthetic bridge between the patient’s brain and lumbar spinal cord that, supported by wireless technology, conveys signals from the brain to the legs to control movement and assist in the recovery of spinal nerves.

Krithi Karanth

Krithi is looking to put an end to the damage and death caused by clashes between human communities and wildlife in her native India. Human-wildlife conflict results in lost crops and livestock, and Karanth estimates that only a very small percentage of people are compensated for these losses. Through her conservation and education efforts, she hopes to increase protections for both sides: vulnerable villages and their wildlife neighbors.

Brian Gitta

Brian has effectively declared war on malaria with a faster, low-cost test for the disease. Existing tests are difficult to administer in the developing world, requiring a blood sample. Gitta, who is a multi-time survivor of malaria, has helped develop a device that detects the presence of the malaria parasite without bloodwork. His hope is to make it ready and available to hospitals in Uganda and Kenya, where it can be used to rapidly diagnose malaria—and save lives.

Miranda Wang

Miranda is an entrepreneur who founded BioCellection to convert one third of the world’s plastic waste into valuable industrial chemicals by 2023. The technologies her company is developing will turn single-use and other unrecyclable plastics—think dirty plastic bags and packaging materials—into familiar products people everywhere use on a daily basis, like cars, electronics and textiles.

Keep reading about the 2019 Rolex Awards and Laureates and these important causes. 

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