ORONO — The Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine was selected as a finalist for one of seven Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the Year awards.

Germany’s Falling Walls Foundation selected the Mitchell Center as one of 10 finalists in Science Innovation and Management for its global leadership in “Breaking the Walls that Separate Universities from Society.” Ten finalists in each of seven categories were chosen from a field of more than 1,000 research groups from top academic institutions in 115 countries. A winner from each category received 2021 Science Breakthroughs of the Year awards.

“Top-class researchers globally are pushing the boundaries to make some of the most important scientific breakthroughs of our times,” according to the Falling Walls Foundation website. “The Science and Innovation Management category celebrates people and projects who enable scientific breakthroughs and who catalyze innovation processes.”

The selection recognizes Mitchell Center Director David Hart and the center’s collaborating faculty and students for their development of innovative strategies to solve complex societal problems. These strategies include the mobilization of interdisciplinary research teams as well as the development of long-term stakeholder partnerships based on open communication, mutual respect and trust.

The Mitchell Center has launched more than 60 projects focused on such varied issues as water resources, forestry, agriculture, fisheries, municipal planning, climate change, renewable energy, and solid waste management.

“This is a wonderful tribute to the extraordinary efforts of more than 1,500 students, faculty and stakeholder partners who have been working with the center during the last decade to promote economic and community development while protecting the environment,” says Hart.

The Falling Walls Foundation invited the Mitchell Center to apply for the award after reading “Rebuilding the Ivory Tower,” an article by Hart and Linda Silka, Mitchell Center senior fellow, about the creation of the center.