L'Oreal, UNESCO to hold 17th annual 'Women in Science Awards'


Professor Molly Shoichet, Laureate of the 2015 L'Oreal-Unesco For Women in Science Award. Photo copyright BrigitteLacombe.

PARIS — The L'Oréal Foundation and UNESCO will present in March the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards to five women scientists and 15 grants to promising young researchers.

Well into the third millennium, much progress remains to be made to reach gender balance in science, the companies stated. Only 30% of the world's researchers are women, and many barriers and obstacles discourage women from entering or pursuing a career in science. Dedicated to both honoring distinguished women scientists and supporting promising young researchers, the L'Oréal-UNESCO program gives five annual awards and accelerates the careers of 15 young women chosen among more than 230 Fellowships awarded every year all over the world.  Since 1998, the For Women in Science program has honored 2,250 women in more than 110 countries.

This year's L'Oréal-UNESCO For women in Science Awards Ceremony will be held on the evening of March 18th at the Sorbonne in Paris. On the morning of the 18th, a press conference will be held at the Saint James Albany Hotel in Paris. The five laureates will be announced, and the 15 fellows will present their research projects. Laureates and fellows will then give one-on-one interviews.

Millions of passengers going through the terminals of the Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will discover a unique exhibition of the five laureates by photographer Brigitte Lacombe. By traveling the world to meet each of these women, Lacombe has created a series of photographs that capture their inspiring spirit and passion.

This year's five laureates of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards are being honored for their groundbreaking discoveries in the physical sciences. By studying the infinitely large to the infinitely small, they have pushed back the frontiers of knowledge to explain the most fundamental questions of the universe and contribute to solving some of today's greatest challenges. Passionate in life as much as in their work, they also are committed to giving back to their communities and transmitting their love of science.

They were selected in the five regions of the world by an independent International Awards Jury made up of 12 international scientists who were personally chosen by the president of the jury and 1999 Nobel Prize winner, professor Ahmed Zewail.

AFRICA AND THE ARAB STATES: Prof. Rajaâ Cherkaoui El Moursli - High Energy Physics and Nuclear Physics

Professor, Mohammed V - Agdal University, Rabat, Morocco  

Rajaâ Cherkaoui El Moursli is being honored for her key contribution to one of the greatest discoveries in physics: proof of the existence of the Higgs Boson, the particle responsible for the creation of mass in the universe. She dedicates much of her time to raising the level of scientific research in her country and has been instrumental in improving Moroccan health care by creating the first master's degree in medical physics.

ASIA / PACIFIC: Prof. Yi Xie - Inorganic Chemistry

Professor, University of Science & Technology of China, Hefei, China  

Yi Xie is being honored for her significant contributions to creating new nanomaterials with promising applications in the conversion of heat or sunlight into electricity. Her work will greatly contribute to lessening pollution and boosting energy efficiency, and will open promising prospects for the future. Committed to preserving the planet, she has dedicated her life to finding new and intelligent solutions to address the environmental challenge.

EUROPE: Professor Dame Carol Robinson - Physical Chemistry - Mass Spectrometry  

Professor, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Dame Carol Robinson is being honored for creating a revolutionary method for studying how proteins function, particularly membrane proteins, and establishing a whole new scientific field: gas phase structural biology. Her pioneering work could have a significant impact on medical research. A risk-taker, Robinson has always done things her way; she left school at 16 years old, passed her PhD at a school for adult learners and took eight years off to raise her children.

LATIN AMERICA: Prof. Thaisa Storchi Bergmann - Physics and Astronomy  

Professor, Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul, Porto Alegre Brasil


Thaisa Storchi Bergmann is being honored for her work leading to the understanding of massive black holes, one of the most enigmatic and complex phenomena of the universe. She was the first researcher to discover that matter could escape from black holes. Passionate and determined, she is convinced that education for all is the key to a better world and, through her work, she hopes to contribute to promoting science as a captivating and fun career path.

NORTH AMERICA: Prof. Molly Shoichet - Polymer Chemistry

Professor of chemical engineering and applied chemistry, chemistry and biomaterials and biomedical engineering, University of Toronto, Canada

Molly Shoichet is being honored for the development of new materials to regenerate damaged nerve tissue and for a new method that can deliver drugs directly to the spinal cord and brain. Her work is putting chemistry at the service of medicine in spectacular new ways. She also participates in special athletic events for people with spinal cord injuries, is actively involved in human rights issues and has contributed to launching a social media campaign designed to "connect today's research with tomorrow's reality." 

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