United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Prize-Giving Ceremony for 2003 L’ORÉAL-UNESCO 'Women in science' Awards

The 2003 L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards were given today to five outstanding women scientists during a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. At the ceremony, which marked the fifth anniversary of the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO “For Women in Science” programme, 15 young scientific researchers received the annual UNESCO - L’ORÉAL fellowships.

The awards, presented by the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of L’ORÉAL, Lindsay Owen-Jones, and Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, recognized for the first time women working in the field of the material sciences. Five laureates in the material sciences, in addition to fifteen fellowships in the life sciences, were honoured at the event. This year’s awards bring to 71 the number of women, from 45 countries, who have been honoured by the programme.

The L’ORÉAL-UNESCO “For Women in Science” programme aims to improve the position of women in science by recognizing outstanding women researchers who have contributed to scientific progress (L’ORÉAL-UNESCO awards of $100,000 each), and young women scientists engaged in exemplary and promising projects (UNESCO- L’ORÉAL fellowships of $20,000 each).

The L’ORÉAL-UNESCO awards distinguish five remarkable women researchers representing the five continents: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America. Often, these women’s exceptional careers have opened up new and revolutionary ways of improving conditions of life and well-being. Professor Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, Nobel Prize in Physics 1991, presided over an international jury of ten eminent scientists.

The 2003 Award Laureates:

Karimat EL-SAYED (Egypt), professor of solid state physics, Ain Shams University, Cairo, has specialized in the detection of impurities in materials relevant to industrial metallurgy and semi-conducting materials.

Fang-Hua LI (China), professor, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, has specialized in electron microscopy. Her work has pushed back the limits of observation of crystalline structures through the elimination of interference.

Ayse ERZAN (Turkey), professor of physics, Istanbul Technical University, has used the concepts of fractal geometry to study the collective phenomena of percolation, in which the interactions of simple constituents translate to behavior at large scale or over long periods.
Mariana WEISSMANN (Argentina), senior researcher, Argentine National Research Council, Buenos Aires, has helped to develop our understanding of quantum solids from a qualitative view to quantitative predictions. She has also been a pioneer in the use of computers to study the properties of solids.

Johanna M. H. LEVELT SENGERS (USA), scientist emeritus, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, has contributed to a better definition of water and steam properties for scientific applications. Her work has aided industry in its search for cleaner and safer ways to dispose of hazardous and toxic waste.

The expansion of the awards to include the discipline of the material sciences, coupled with a significant increase in their monetary value, demonstrates the commitment of the award partners to ensure that the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO “For Women in Science” programme finds its place alongside the world’s leading international awards programmes.

The UNESCO-L’ORÉAL fellowships encourage young women scientists to pursue their research projects in the laboratory of their choice. This year, fifteen women from five regions are rewarded. By promoting young researchers and their aspirations, the “For Women in Science” programme works to reinforce the vocation of women in scientific disciplines. Since the creation of the fellowships in 2000, the programme has distinguished a total of 45 young scientists.

Côte d’Ivoire: Ahou Edwige SIRANSY - Physiology
Nigeria: Sodangi Abdulkarim LUKA GESINDE - Parasitology
South Africa: Karin JACOBS - Mycology
Arab States
Palestinian Authority: Mary George KAILEH - Molecular Biology
Syria: Darie ALIKAJ -Virology
Tunisia: Samia REJIBA - Molecular Biology
Australia: Devi STUART-FOX - Ecology/Evolutionary Biology
Iran: Shiva SEYED FOROOTAN - Molecular Biology
(The third Asia-Pacific fellowship recipient will be announced in the coming weeks.)
Europe/North America
Israel: Victoria YAVELSKY - Molecular Biology/Immunology
Romania: Adriana JALBA - Plant Biology
Turkey: Ahu ALTINKUT UNCUOGLU - Molecular Biology
Latin America/Caribbean
Argentina: Maria Gabriela PALOMO - Marine Ecology
Peru: Dionicia GAMBOA VILELA - Molecular Biology
Venezuela: Rocío DÍAZ-BENJUMEA BENAVIDES - Parasitology/Cell Biology

The annual international award ceremony is the highlight of an increasingly full programme of local initiatives being organized worldwide; including activities in Austria, Belgium, China, Finland, Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom. These initiatives are ensuring that women in science benefit even further from the partnership forged between L’ORÉAL and UNESCO.

Speaking at the ceremony, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said: “you are the role models for today's young girls, opening a door to freedom and adventure that has been forbidden them for too long. In today's knowledge societies, women must contribute to scientific research, and mark it with their vision of the world and its development.”

Lindsay Owen-Jones added: “The discoveries that you make push forward the boundaries of science. You are emblems who are a great source of hope; attracting new young women to your fields of research and inspiring a great calling that ensures the future of science.”

Note to Editors:

  • Life sciences and material sciences both contribute to the scientific success of L’ORÉAL. In twelve research centers in France, Asia and America, more than 2,700 scientists are responsible for the registration of hundreds of patents annually. 55% of these scientists are women – a percentage unmatched elsewhere in the industry.
  • L’ORÉAL is the world’s number one cosmetics company, present in 140 countries. For more details, see the site www.loreal.com
  • UNESCO is an intergovernmental organization. It currently has 188 Member States. The main objective of UNESCO is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication.

    Author(s) UNESCOPRESS
    Source Press Release N° 2003 - 18
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    Publication Date 27 Feb 2003
    © UNESCO 1995-2007 - ID: 9945