Recognizing incredible scientists for the work they do is imperative—not only to reward groundbreaking scientific discovery, but to fuel the next generation’s eagerness to pursue their own curiosity.
That was the mission of L’Oréal and The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) when they partnered up in 1998 to increase visibility and recognition for outstanding women scientists around the globe.
Since then, their efforts have formed the For Women in Science Programme, which rewards exceptional women in science through:
● The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards: given each year to five outstanding women scientists—one per continent—for the contributions of their research, the strength of their commitments and their impact on society.
● The UNESCO- L’Oréal International Fellowships: granted annually since 2000 to 15 promising young women scientists, doctorate or post-doctorate, they encourage international scientific cooperation and the developing of cross-cultural networks.
● The L’Oréal National Fellowships with the support of the UNESCO National Commissions, which anchor the For Women in Science programmes in countries around the world, while respecting their particularities and specific needs.
On September 8, four women from Australia and New Zealand were awarded UNESCO-L’Oreal For Women in Science national fellowships—worth $25,000 for each woman—that can be used toward their research.
Australian-based marine biologist Jodie Rummer earned a fellowship for her work in determining what kind of sharks will thrive in habitats plagued by global warming.
“A lot of my work looks to identify the winners and losers under the stress of climate-change scenarios that we’re expecting for the end of this century,” Dr. Rummer told the Sydney Morning Herald.
The “winner,” she claims, being the epaulette shark.
Dr. Muireann Irish, a cognitive neuroscientist from Sydney, won a fellowship for her research in people’s evolving perceptions of the future.
According to Science in Public, “Muireann was intrigued by memory [while growing up in Ireland]. She wondered why she could remember things in better detail than some of her friends. But she also saw her grandmother succumb to dementia and slowly lose the memories that helped define who she was.”
It was that prolific experience that piqued Irish’s interest in studying dementia, and how people afflicted with the condition “don’t just lose the ability to remember the past, they also lose the ability to envisage the future.”
Australian astronomer Shari Breen, another winner of the fellowship, is “using the radio telescope at Parkes and a network of international telescopes to understand the life cycle and evolution of high mass stars,” according to an Australian Research Council media release.
“[Dr. Breen] will use her fellowship to develop her use of masers (laser-like beams of intense radio waves) to investigate these stars.”
The inaugural New Zealand-based recipient of the fellowship is Dr. Christina Riesselman, an esteemed geologist from the University of Otago. According to a feature by the New Zealand Herald, “The $25,000 fellowship would allow [Riesselman] to recruit a research assistant to help process thousands of samples taken from sediment cores extracted from the Antarctic seabed.”
The article continues, “…these samples could provide an invaluable window into the past—sometimes stretching as far back as 56 million years—when it came to understanding how the Earth’s climate has changed over time … With carbon dioxide levels now at around the same point they reached three million years ago—when temperatures were much higher and sea levels were around 20 metres higher—the lessons the past could teach us were key in predicting what might unfold as the planet warms over coming decades and centuries.”
Each of these women is working to improve our understanding of the world around us—by land, by sea, by space, and even through our own minds. Learn how to nominate a remarkable woman in science for next year’s awards here.
Speaking of outstanding scientists…
Our inaugural recipients, Dr. Peter H. Seeberger and Dr. Andreas Seidel-Morgenstern (pictured above with The Analytical Scientist editor Rich Whitworth), combined flow chemistry with advanced chromatography methods to create artemisinin-based therapies—the most effective anti-malaria drugs—from three simple natural resources: plant waste, air, and light.
The duo are on their way to revolutionizing the pharmaceutical industry forever.
Can you top that? Or know someone who could try? Nominate an altruistic scientist for the 2016 award here.