Louis J. Guillette Jr., a researcher and professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, has been named a winner of the 17th annual Heinz Award, according to a news release issued Monday.

Guillette is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and holds an endowed chair in marine genomics at MUSC.

He is being recognized for his research showing how alligators can function as sentinel species for environmental contamination and providing insight into the impact of toxic chemicals on human health.

The Heinz Awards annually recognize people who are working on world problems through invention, research and education while inspiring the next generation of thinkers. This year's awards focus on the environment. Nine other recipients are being recognized.

In addition to the unrestricted $100,000 cash award, recipients are presented with a medallion inscribed with the image of the late U.S. Sen. John Heinz on one side and a rendering of a globe passing between two hands on the other. The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Washington on Nov. 15.