L’OREAL-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science

The L’OREAL-UNESCO For Women in Science program awarded five exceptional women scientists from around the world with the 2013 L’OREAL-UNESCO Awards in the Physical Sciences.

The award ceremony took place on March 28 at Sorbonne University in Paris, France. Professor Deborah S. Jin, Fellow of JILA, a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado, NIST Fellow and physicist Professor Adjoint Physics Department, University of Colorado, was named the 2013 Laureate for North America, for her work in ultracold gases of fermions.

Since its inception, L’OREAL-UNESCO For Women in Science has honored 77 Laureates, including two who subsequently were awarded the Nobel Prize, Professor Elizabeth Blackburn and Professor Ada Yonath.

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The program has also supported more than 1,652 Fellows who have made contributions in every field of scientific research. By the end of 2013, a total of 1,729 women scientists from over 100 countries will have benefited from the program.

An international network of nearly 1,000 scientists nominates the candidates for each year’s Awards. The five Laureates are then selected by an independent, international jury presided by Professor Ahmed Zewail, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1999. Each Laureate receives $100,000 in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of science.

Jean-Paul Agon, chairman and CEO of L’Oreal stated, “This program was born of a convergence between the crucial role of science at L’Oreal and the pressing need to increase the number of women holding key research posts around the world. By supporting eminent women researchers on all continents, the program is contributing to changing mindsets and fighting prejudice.”

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Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO remarked, “This program embodies UNESCO’s founding principles. It is based on the idea that science has no gender and no frontiers; that scientific knowledge must be shared; that the curiosity of all girls and boys must be nurtured and encouraged as much as possible for the benefit of all.”

Along with Professor Deborah Jin, the other Laureates recognized for their scientific achievements are:

AFRICA and ARAB STATES: Professor Francisca Nneka OKEKE, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (Nigeria)

ASIA / PACIFIC: Professor Reiko Kuroda, Tokyo University of Science (Japan)

EUROPE: Professor Pratibha Gai, University of York (United Kingdom)

SOUTH AMERICA: Professor Marcia Barbosa, Federak University if Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre (Brazil)

In its aim to promote and encourage women throughout their scientific careers, the For Women in Science partnership has also developed a global network of International, Regional and National Fellowship programs aimed at supporting young women who represent the future of science.

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Rakesh Raman