Rihanna
Rihanna is to be recognised for her philanthropic work Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Rihanna has been named Harvard University's 2017 Humanitarian of the Year.

While the Grammy Award-winning star is best known for packing out stadiums and performing to thousands of fans, she is now being honoured for her philanthropic work.

The 29-year-old will receive the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award during a ceremony at the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus next Tuesday (28 February) in recognition of her personal initiative to develop a breast cancer treatment centre in her homeland of Barbados.

Explaining why the pop star is to be conferred the honour, Harvard Foundation director S. Allen Counter said: "Rihanna has charitably built a state-of-the-art center for oncology and nuclear medicine to diagnose and treat breast cancer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados."

The Work singer is an ambassador for charities Global Citizen and the Global Partnership for Education and recently traveled to Africa on behalf of her Clara Lionel Foundation.

Last month Rihanna dressed down for a visit to a Malawi school where she met with the students during her charity trip to Lilongwe.

"Met the bravest, most humble kids and young women this week! I can't wait to share more! #CLF #GC #GPE," she wrote alongside an Instagram photo with a group of school children.

In May last year, according to Mail Online, she launched the Clara Lionel Foundation's Global Scholarship Programme, dedicated to giving people in nations such as Cuba, Haiti and her home country, Barbados, the chance to study at universities in the United States.

And in December 2016 she joined forces with British royalty to convey a powerful message about HIV. In honour of World Aids Day, Rihanna and Prince Harry took an HIV test in her native Barbados to raise awareness and eradicate the stigma surrounding the disease.

Speaking at her annual Diamond Ball Gala benefit event in 2015, she explained that her charitable endeavours are an important aspect of her life. "Giving back is important to me and it should be important to everyone. If you have the ability to help and lend a hand, no matter how big or small, you should definitely make that your responsibility."