Today, renowned primatologist Dr. Patricia Wright, and the Prime Minister and the Minister of Higher Education of Madagascar will unveil and open NamanaBe Hall (which translates as Friendship Hall) - a new research, arts and community outreach building in Ranomafana, Madagascar.

The 1,440 square meter building is as 'green' as can be - built out of local materials (locally-sourced granite, brick, and eucalyptus flooring), with work by local artisans and craftsmen, it has gardens and solar panels on the roof, gray water recycling, solar hot water, natural cooling, and enhanced use of daylight. Apart from it being sustainable, it is also hoped to provide an example to local (and global) populations on how to employ “green” techniques in building design and construction.

NamanaBe Hall is the newest addition to Stony Brook University’s research center - Centre ValBio - built in 2003 to help indigenous people and the international community with conservation in Madagascar. It is a center of research in biodiversity, and also a community center for arts, environmental outreach, conservation education, and economic development of the region of the Ranomafana National Park. With the addition of NamanaBe Hall, Centre ValBio will become the largest, most modern, and most important research hub in Madagascar.

The new hall will have a conference room for 80 people, a computer training lab and library, an audiovisual office, dormitories, and a modern, sophisticated scientific laboratory equipped to study biodiversity (genetics, hormones and parasites) and infectious diseases. The whole campus will be equipped with high speed internet. In one word - perfect setting for a ScienceOnlineMadagascar ;-)

During the opening ceremony, the founder of the Centre ValBio, Dr. Patricia Wright will receive a Commander National Medal of Honor.

A world-renowned primatologist, Dr. Wright is a McArthur Genius Fellow and will now be the first recepient of all three major medals that Malagasy government can give. The first is the Chevalier Medal of Honor. To get this high honor one must have done exceptional deeds in one's field. If one accomplishes a second exceptional deed or work one can receive the Officier Medal eight to ten years after the Chevaliar. The third medal, the Commander, can only be awarded five years after the Officier and denotes a person who has done honorable and exceptional work throughout their careers.

The Medals of Honor are awarded to person's of high achievement, who are creative and have contributed exceptionally to the country of Madagascar. Dr. Wright will now be the first recipient of all three, for her 26 years of conservation work to advance Malagasy biodiversity. Grammy-award winning Malagasy brand Tarika Be (voted by Time Magazine as one of the “10 Best Bands in the World” alongside U2 and Radiohead) will perform at the inauguration.


Thanks to Mireya Mayor and Stony Brook University for heads-up and information.