FWIS 2023 Fellows COM

L’Oréal USA Announces 2023 for Women in Science Awardees, Marking 20-Year Commitment to Women in STEM



Five postdoctoral scientists awarded grants to advance groundbreaking research, encouraging the next generation of diverse women in STEM to address society's most pressing challenges


NEW YORK, NY (November 13, 2023) – Today, L'Oréal USA announced the recipients of its 2023 For Women in Science (FWIS) Fellowship program, which grants awards annually to five female postdoctoral scientists to support their research endeavors. This year marks L'Oréal USA’s 20th anniversary of helping to advance women in STEM fields through its FWIS program, which has provided more than $million in grants to support the work of innovative women scientists.


The 2023 class of L’Oréal USA For Women in Science recipients specialize in the fields of biology, biological engineering, biomedical engineering, data science/biotechnology and microbiology:


  • Bria Macklin, whose research in data science and biotechnology at the Gladstone Institutes focuses on how we can improve current gene editing strategies for genetic diseases that affect motor neurons. Successful gene therapies have the potential to change lives, and many genetic diseases are currently uncurable. Her research has the potential to generate new cures.


  • Taylor Medwig-Kinney, whose research in biology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill focuses on how cells change shape during development, using microscopic worms called C.elegans that allow her to observe cells changing shape in real time. Studying this can help understand when this process goes wrong in humans, which can lead to conditions such as spina bifida.


  • Joscelyn Mejías, whose research in biomedical engineering at John Hopkins University focuses on studying uterine fibroids, a non-cancerous but painful tumor of the uterus that can impact fertility. Uterine fibroids are extremely common, yet not well understood. She hopes her research will lead to new and better treatment options for targeting uterine fibroids and fibrosis.


  • Jessleen Kanwal, whose research in neurobiology at the California Institute of Technology focuses on how the brain combines sensory cues so animals can interact adaptively with others, using rove beetles to study decision-making during interactions critical for survival. Understanding this process in the beetle brain can help identify how this core function of the brain works in humans and what happens when it goes awry, such as during aging when our ability to combine senses and interact socially starts to decline.


  • Caitlin Kowalski, whose research in microbiology at the University of Oregon focuses on how the fungi that live on our bodies can help protect humans from infection. There is very little known about how host-associated fungi contribute to human health, and her work emphasizes the importance of considering fungi as a resource to identify new antibiotics.


“L’Oréal USA is proud to recognize this 20th Anniversary milestone of the For Women in Science program. This initiative has become a hallmark for our company, which for two decades has given women in STEM the visibility and resource contributions needed to help them excel in their fields, advance their careers and establish themselves as leaders and role models for the next generation of girls and young women,” said Marissa Pagnani McGowan, L’Oréal Groupe’s Chief Sustainability Officer for North America. “We are delighted to showcase this exceptional class of FWIS awardees, who will undoubtedly carry on this legacy, complete groundbreaking research and inspire others to impact the world through their game-changing science.”


The L’Oréal USA FWIS philanthropic program embodies L'Oréal's fundamental belief in the indispensable connection between science and women. This initiative aspires to cultivate a postdoctoral community of women, empowering them to persist in their research, attain leadership roles, and become inspirational mentors for the generations of women and girls that will follow in their path.


From all of us here at AAAS, we are incredibly grateful for L’Oréal’s investment of more than $5M to women scientists in the postdoctoral stage of their careers, said Travis York, Director of Inclusive STEMM Ecosystems for Equity & Diversity at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which has served as a FWIS partner for nearly 20 years. Together, we have ensured that 100 women have had the financial security and support to become the scientists they always dreamed of being and serving society through their research efforts.”


L'Oréal USA will recognize the 2023 For Women in Science recipients at an awards ceremony hosted by CBS Evening News Anchor and Managing Editor, Norah O'Donnell, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington D.C. on Thursday, November 16th.


The ceremony serves as a capstone to a week-long program of events and engagements for the For Women in Science Fellows; earlier events in Washington, D.C, include:


  • A symposium hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine (NASEM) focused on advancing women leaders in science, engineering, and medicine. The mentoring event will feature an expert panel focused on the importance of STEM communication in promoting gender equity in STEM fields. The awardees will have the opportunity to present their scientific research and to engage in a scientific exchange with a cohort of scientists from L’Oréal.


  • A roundtable discussion hosted by UNESCO focused on the link between issues of women in science and the opportunities that science diplomacy plays in promoting global cooperation. This forum will serve as an opportunity for the awardees to learn about the work of UNESCO in the field of advancing scientific engagement as a diplomatic tool and to explore how they can engage with and contribute to global science diplomacy.


Since 2003, the L’Oréal USA FWIS program has acknowledged and supported 100 postdoctoral female scientists, contributing more than $5 million to fuel innovation in fields spanning neurobiology, metabolic diseases, physics and material science, integrative biology, and biomedical engineering. This initiative serves as the U.S. segment of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Awards, a global program established in 1998 to honor and empower women scientists globally. Over the years, the international program, alongside nearly 52 national and regional counterparts, has collectively bolstered the careers of over 4,100 female scientists from 110 different countries.


The candidates for the L’Oréal USA FWIS program are evaluated based on their intellectual merit, research potential, scientific excellence, and their commitment to supporting women and girls in science. The L'Oréal USA program includes a requirement to ensure recipients are committed to serving as role models for younger generations. Since 2005, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has served as L’Oréal USA’s fellowship partner, engaging experienced scientists to peer review applications in the candidates' respective fields and convening a jury to select the annual winners.


For more information about the L'Oréal USA 2023 For Women in Science Fellows or to apply for the L’Oréal For Women in Science 2024 program, please visit: loreal.com/en/usa/pages/group/fwis/.



About L'OréalUSA

L'Oréal USA is the largest subsidiary of the L'Oréal Group, the world’s leading beauty company. Through its management of over 35 iconic beauty brands, L’Oréal USA has generated more than $9 billion in sales annually. Products are available across all distribution channels including hair salons, department stores, mass market, pharmacies, medi-spas, e-commerce and more. L’Oréal USA’s commitment to growth is generated through sustainable innovation and driven by the company’s L’Oréal for the Future ambition which demonstrates sustainable development across the Group’s value chain. The company is headquartered in New York City, employs more than 11,000 people, and operates administrative, research, manufacturing and distribution facilities across 16 states.


About For Women In Science

The L'Oréal USA For Women in Science (FWIS) fellowship program awards five women postdoctoral scientists annually with grants of $60,000 each for their contributions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields and commitment to serving as role models for younger generations. Since 2003, L'Oréal USA's FWIS program has supported 100 outstanding female postdoctoral scientists from across the country, awarding over $5 million in grants. L'Oréal USA partners with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to manage the program's application and peer-review process. The program is the U.S. component of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Awards, a global philanthropy created in 1998 that has recognized and rewarded over 4,100 women scientists from more than 110 countries.


About AAAS

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, as well as Science Translational Medicine; Science Signaling; a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances; Science Immunology; and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For additional information about AAAS, see www.aaas.org.




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