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UNN professor among winners of L’Oreal-UNESCO WIN Awards

By EBELE ORAKPO

A Nigerian female scientist is among five women expected to receive the 2013 15th L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women In Science (WIN) awards.  The five women scientists, according to a release by the organisers of the awards were chosen for their researches which demonstrated “exceptionally original approaches to fundamental research in the Physical Sciences, from contributing to better understanding of climate change, to advancing research on neurodegenerative diseases and potentially uncovering new energy sources.”

The laureates are Professor Francisca Nneka Okeke, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (Nigeria) “for her significant contributions to the understanding of daily variations of the ion currents in the upper atmosphere which may further our understanding of climate change.”

Professor Pratibha Gai of the University of York (UK) “for ingeniously modifying her electron microscope so that she was able to observe chemical reactions occurring at surface atoms of catalysts which will help scientists in their development of new medicines or new energy sources.”

Professor Reiko Kuroda, Tokyo University of Science (Japan), “for discovering the functional importance of the difference between left handed and right-handed molecules which has wide applications including research on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Professor Marcia Barbosa, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre (Brazil) “for discovering one of the peculiarities of water which may lead to better understanding of how earthquakes occur and how proteins fold which is important for the treatment of diseases.”

Professor Deborah Jin, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and University of Colorado, Boulder (USA) “for having been the first to cool down molecules so much that she can observe chemical reactions in slow motion which may help further understanding of molecular processes which are important for medicine or new energy sources.”

”These five outstanding women scientists have given the world a better understanding of how nature works. Their pioneering research and discoveries have changed the way we think in various areas of the physical sciences and opened new frontiers in science and technology. Such key developments have the potential to transform our society.  Their work, their dedication, serves as an inspiration to us all,” said UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova.

On 28 March, 2013, the five will be honoured at an Awards ceremony in Paris and will receive US$100,000 in recognition of their accomplishments.

Chairman and CEO of L’Oréal , Jean-Paul Agon said; “We are very proud to have changed the face of science by supporting women in science. We are convinced that science and women bring hope and foster discovery, innovation and excellence. All the best talents must be called upon to accomplish this mission.

The Awards jury was chaired by Professor Ahmed Zewail, winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and Linus Pauling Chair, Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics, California Institute of Technology.

Established in 1998, the L’Oréal-UNESCO partnership is a long-term commitment to recognising women in science and supporting scientific vocations. For Women in Science has grown into a global programme that includes International, Regional and National Fellowships and an international network of more than 1,300 women in 106 countries.

Over the past 15 years, the For Women in Science Award has recognised a great diversity of scientists, 77 women working across the spectrum of research, from curing diseases to protecting the environment. Year after year, the creativity of these women in science and the importance of their findings continuously contribute to better understanding and improving the world we live in.

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