The L'Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science aims to improve the position of women in science by recognizing outstanding women researchers who have contributed to scientific progress. The awards are a result of a partnership between the French cosmetics company L'Oréal and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and carry a grant of $100,000 USD for each laureate.
Each year an international jury alternates between life and material sciences and selects a winner from each of the following regions: Africa and the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and North America (since 2000)
The same partnership awards the UNESCO-L'Oréal International Fellowships, providing up to $40,000 USD in funding over two years to fifteen young women scientists engaged in exemplary and promising research projects.
Five leading women scientists and 15 promising young researchers were honoured by the 17th L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Ceremony in the historic Grand Amphitheatre of the Sorbonne University in Paris, before an audience of 700 experts and opinion leaders (scientists, institutional representatives, media…). The event was opened by Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, who said "This evening, we celebrate five exceptional scientists, who are rewriting the story of science, who are inspiring other women to follow their path, to shape how history is made," and Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and CEO of L'Oréal and Chairman of the L'Oréal Foundation.
It was a privilege to attend the L’Oreal UNESCO women in Science Awards in Paris on behalf of the EESC. The evening was truly inspirational. As a woman promoting the triumphs and competences of great women past and present even I was in astounded by the amazing things women in science are creating. Some of the world’s latest technologies in engineering, medical solutions, astronomic discoveries have been by women.
Laureate for Africa and the Arab States, Prof. Rajaâ Cherkaoui El Moursli. High Energy Physics and Nuclear Physics. Professor, Mohammed V- Agdal University, Rabat, MOROCCO, was honoured for her key contribution to the international effort that led to the detection of the Higgs Boson, the particle responsible for the creation of mass in the universe.
Laureate for Asia-Pacific, Prof. Yi Xie. Inorganic Chemistry. Professor, University of Science & Technology of China, Hefei, CHINA, was honoured for her significant contributions to creating new materials a few atoms thick with promising applications in conversion of heat or sunlight into electricity.
Laureate for Europe, Prof. Dame Carol Robinson. Physical Chemistry, Mass Spectrometry. Professor, University of Oxford, UNITED KINGDOM, was honoured for creating a revolutionary method for studying how proteins function, particularly membrane proteins, which play a vital role in many life processes.
Laureate for Latin America, Prof. Thaisa Storchi Bergmann. Physics and Astronomy. Professor, Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul, Porto Alegre,BRAZIL, was honoured for her outstanding work leading to the understanding of how massive black holes form in the centers of galaxies, evolve and shape them.
Laureate for North America, Prof. Molly S. Shoichet. Polymer Chemistry. Professor of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, Chemistry and Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, CANADA, was honoured for her pioneering approach to biomaterial development to regenerate damaged nerve tissue and for her development of a new method to deliver drugs to the spinal cord and brain.
At the same time 15 promising young scientists whose work could change the world are encouraged in their research.
Africa and the Arab States:
Dr. Nourtan Abdeltawab, EGYPT, was honoured for her studies on the effects of host genetics on the outcomes of a new triple therapy for Hepatitis C in the Egyptian population.
Dr. Sanaa Sharafeddine, LEBANON was honoured for her project towards optimizing smart grid network design and operation in developing countries.
Adriana Marais, SOUTH AFRICA was honoured for her project on the quantum origins of life: a description of the emergence of life from inanimate matter.
Dr. Kathryn Holt, AUSTRALIA, was honoured for her project on tackling an emerging drug-resistant superbug.
Dr. Chan Yoke-Fun, MALAYSIA, was honoured for her project on the development of novel therapeutic peptides targeting host autophagy machinery against enterovirus A71 infection.
Dr. Phuong Ha-Lien Tran, VIETNAM, was honoured for her project on the development of fucoidan-based polymeric micelles for cancer treatment and diagnostic.
Dr. Signe Normand, DENMARK, was honoured for her project on tundra change at the dawn of drone ecology.
Dr. Aurore Avarguès Weber, FRANCE, was honoured for her project on cracking the neurobiological mechanisms of visual cognition in a miniature brain.
Dr. Eva Pellicer, SPAIN, was honoured for her project on advanced nanoporous materials for highly efficient hydrogen production.
Dr. Ariela Vergara, CHILE, was honoured for her project on the exploration of the structural basis of membrane transporter mechanisms through computational methods: one step closer to understanding neuropathological conditions.
Dr. Matilde Jimenez Coello, MEXICO, was honoured for her project on the expression and validation of potential cardiac biomarkers in an animal model infected with Trypanosoma cruzi (DTU I and VI) during acute and chronic phases of Chagas disease.
Dr. Carolina Horta Andrade, BRAZIL, was honoured for her project on multi-target drug discovery for leishmaniasis using integrated strategies in medicinal chemistry.
Dr. Mary Caswell Stoddard, USA, was honoured for her project on avian eggshell engineering: evolutionary innovations in color and structure.
Dr. Vanessa D'Costa, CANADA, was honoured for her project on the mechanisms that allow Salmonella to escape the immune system.
Dr. Bhama Ramkhelawon, USA, was honoured for her project on how Hypoxia sustains low-grade inflammation by inducing Netrin-1 expression in adipose tissue resident macrophages in obesity.
This was a great opportunity for me to discuss with the participants my experiences as a Member of the EESC on the importance of the economic, social and cultural rights for women empowerment, civil society participation and development.
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