By Michelle Amayayi

L’Oreal Foundation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) marked the International Day of Women and Girls in Science by announcing the winners of the 22nd For Women in Science Awards, which honored five exceptional women scientists worldwide.

The awards recognized the achievement of women scientists in the field of life sciences: biotechnology, ecology, epigenetics, epidemiology and infectiology.

Each of the five laureates will receive 100, 000 Euros at a ceremony on 12th March 2020 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. They will be awarded alongside fifteen Rising Talents, young women scientists from all over the world.

Among the 2020 For Women in Science Laureates are: Prof. Abla Mehio Sibai from Lebanon for her pioneering research and advocacy to improve healthy ageing in low- and middle-income countries and their impact on health and social policy programmes; Dr. Firdausi Qadri from Bangladesh for her outstanding work to understand and prevent infectious diseases affecting children in developing countries, and promote early diagnosis and vaccination with global health impact; and Prof. Edith Heard from France for her fundamental discoveries concerning the mechanisms governing epigenetic processes, which allow mammals to regulate proper gene expression and are essential for life.

Prof. Esperanza Martinez Romero from Mexico for her pioneering work on the use of environmentally friendly bacteria to support plant growth for increased agricultural productivity and reduced use of chemical fertilizers and Prof. Kristi Anseth from USA for her outstanding contribution in converging engineering and biology to develop innovative biomaterials that help tissue regeneration and drug delivery were also included.

The fifteen Rising Talents are: Dr. Laura-Joy Boulos, Dr. Nowsheen Goonoo, Dr. Nouf Mahmoud and Georgina Nyawo in the Africa and The Arab states category; Dr. Rui Bai, Dr. Huanqian Loh and Dr. Mikyung Shin in the Asia Pacific category; Dr. Paula Giraldo Gallo and Dr Patrícia Medeiros in the Latin America category; Dr. Elizabeth Trembath-Reichert in the North America category as well as Dr. Vida Engmann, Dr. Serap Erkek, Dr. Jennifer Garden,Dr. Cristina Romera Castillo and Dr Olena Vaneeva in the Europe category.

With women representing only 29% of researchers globally and only 3% being awarded Nobel Prizes for Science, UNESCO and L’Oreal Foundation actively support women in science in order to increase their visibility, raise awareness of their talent and inspire more of them to work in science.

The For Women in Science programme has honored and supported over 112 outstanding female researchers and more than 3300 young women scientists since its creation in 1998.