Kaisha Atakhanova

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Kaisha Atakhanova
Born (1957-07-18) 18 July 1957 (age 62)
Karaganda, Kazakhstan
Alma materKaraganda State University
AwardsGoldman Environmental Prize

Kaisha Atakhanova (born 18 July 1957) is a biologist from Karaganda, Kazakhstan, specializing in the genetic effects of nuclear radiation. Due to her civil society activism, she was awarded the international Goldman Environmental Prize in 2005[1][2] for leading a campaign to prevent nuclear waste from being commercially imported into Kazakhstan.

Atakhanova is founder and former leader of the Karaganda Ecological Center (known as EcoCenter).[3]

Early life[edit]

Atakhanova was born in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. Her father was a coal miner and also fought in the Second World War.[4] Growing up, she felt comfortable in nature and had a strong interest in animals, which led her to study biology and become an environmental activist.[4]

The effects of radiation have affected her family, as both her parents and her sister have died from cancer.[4] Her only other sibling, a brother, was also diagnosed with cancer.[4]

Career and research[edit]

Upon graduating in biology from Karaganda State University, Atakhanova began environmental and biological research.[4] Following her interest on the effects of nuclear waste in Kazakhstan, she specialized in the genetic effects of nuclear radiation on amphibians, focusing primarily on frogs.[4]

She did research in the Semipalatinsk Test Sit, also known as the polygon, which was a testing site for Soviet nuclear weapons.[5] Through this research, she was able to study the effects of radiation on people and animals that had been directly affected.[4]

In 1992, she founded the Karaganda Ecological Center (EcoCenter), which allowed her to work directly with people who have been exposed to radiation.[3] The purpose of this was to inform people of how the exposure to radiation could impact their living conditions.[3] Through the EcoCenter, Atakhanova was able to lead a successful campaign to prevent nuclear waste from being commercially imported and disposed of in Kazakhstan.[1]

Personal Accomplishments[edit]

Atakhanova is the founder of the Karaganga Ecological Center, or EcoCenter, which focuses on environmental protection and promoting grassroots democracy.[3] She is also a founding member of the Women's Earth Alliance (WEA), an organization that seeks to empower women and equip them with the skills and tools needed to protect the earth.[6]


  • 2005 Goldman Environmental Prize recipient.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Goldman Environmental Prize (Asia 2005): Kaisha Atakhanova Archived 2007-10-20 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved on November 8, 2007)
  2. ^ Goldman Environmental Prize (2013-10-03), Kaisha Atakhanova: 2005 Goldman Prize winner, Kazakhstan, retrieved 2018-05-10
  3. ^ a b c d Nijhuis, Michelle (18 Apr 2005). "Kaisha Atakhanova fought to keep nuclear waste out of Kazakhstan". Grist. Retrieved January 6, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Pearce, Fred (7 May 2005). "Interview: After the bomb". New Scientist. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  5. ^ "Semipalatinsk Test Site", Wikipedia, 2018-10-20, retrieved 2019-02-12
  6. ^ "What We Do". Women's Earth Alliance. Retrieved 2019-02-11.

External links[edit]

  • Atakhanova's LinkedIn profile
  • Statement on Goldman Environmental Prize on YouTube