L’Oréal And UNESCO’s For Women In Science Programme

By Emeric Brard
on 18 November 2019

Did you know that only 28% of researchers are women? Or that less than 20% are in senior leadership positions? Or that only 3% of Scientific Nobel Prizes has been awarded to women? These are staggering statistics that need to be given the right attention. Over 20 years ago, L’Oréal and UNESCO founded what is called For Women In Science to combat exactly these ongoing issues.

The program highlights and recognises exceptional female researchers in the early stages of their careers and awards them with a Fellowship, a grant of $25,000 for a one year project to help them advance in their research.

Since the program started over 3100 women in over 117 countries have received the recognition they deserve and subsequently been given the funding and resources to further their career.

There are four Australian Fellowships and one New Zealand Fellowship awarded. Here are 2019’s Fellows:

Dr. Ashleigh Hood – University of Melbourne

L'Oréal, UNESCO, Female researchers
L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards 2019

A geoscientist and reef hunter, Dr Ashleigh Wood’s goal is to search the globe for ancient reefs, which she believes host our earliest life forms.

Our oceans are not like what they used to be 500 billion years ago. These ancient reefs are no longer in the oceans, but instead high up in the mountains of Canada, Australia and Namibia.

By understanding the earliest forms of life, Dr Ashleigh Hood believed that we will get a better understanding of our future.

Dr Alisa Glukhova – Monash University

Alisa Glukhova, female researchers
L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards 2019

In our most basic form, humans are a cluster of cells. What Dr Alisa Glukhova is interested in is how the individual molecules that make up these cells help cells function in health and, contrastingly, how they are responsible for diseases such as cancer.

We rely on cells to responds to stimuli to keep us healthy, but Dr Alisa Glukhova argues that we still do not fully understand cell receptors and how they respond to stimuli.

Her aim is to better understand receptors in order to help with the development of drug therapies to treat cancer.

Dr Samantha Solon-Biet – The University of Sydney

female researchers, science
L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards 2019

A nutritional biologist investigating maternal nutrition, specifically looking at protein intake and how it affects obesity in children.

Everyone has their set points when it comes to reaching satiety. But the question is whether this set point is established in the uterus or as a consequence of the mother’s diet.

Dr Samantha Solon-Biet’s goal is to find whether the saying is “you are what you eat” or “you are what your mother eats”.

Dr Valerie Sung – Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Valerie sung, female researchers, science
L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards 2019

It is only in recent times that doctors have been able to determine why some children are born without the ability to hear. Despite the monumental medical advances, hearing-impaired children still suffer greatly in regards to their education.

Dr Valerie Sung’s aim is to provide families with the best therapeutic options, to determine whether or not their child would benefit from hearing aids with mild hearing loss. She is also working towards providing improved ways of screening for cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common cause of hearing loss.

Dr Yvonne Anderson – Liggins Institute, University of Auckland

Yvonne Anderson, science
L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards 2019

Many inequities still exist in the developing world. The Mauri population, for example, tends to be overrepresented in New Zealand, which Dr Yvonne Anderson feels is partly down to the current approach to healthcare.

She hopes to adapt a new healthcare system that involves and allows everyone to have access to the healthcare that they require. By using a “demedicalised” approach, the idea is to remove some of the stigma surrounding certain diseases and conditions resulting in a more inclusive system.

Currently, Dr Yvonne Anderson is focusing on children with weight issues; an issue that can lead to morbidity and eventually mortality.

For more information, visit forwomeninscience.com.au.

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