2009 Edition Of The L’Oréal-Unesco For Women In Science Awards Group


The 11th Annual L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science to Honour Five Exceptional Women Scientists

Paris, 10 November 2008 – In conjunction with World Science Day on November 10, 2008, the jury of the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science today announces the names of the five exceptional women scientists from around the world who will receive the 2009 L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards. This year, the theme of the awards is “Physical Sciences”, and the Laureates were selected through nominations by a network of nearly 1,000 members of the international scientific community. Diverse in origin, determined in nature, and extraordinary in intellect, the 2009 Laureates reflect the programme’s mission: change the face of science and support the advancement of women in the scientific field. The Awards Ceremony will take place on 5 March 2009, at UNESCO. Each Laureate will receive $100,000 in recognition of her contribution to science.

The Laureates for the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science 2009:

  • Africa & the Arab States: Pr. Tebello Nyokong, Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Rhodes University in South Africa, for her work on harnessing light for cancer therapy and for environmental clean-up.

  • Asia-Pacific: Pr. Akiko Kobayashi, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry, College of Humanities and Sciences at Nihon University in Japan, for her contribution to the development of molecular conductors and the design and synthesis of a single-component molecular metal.

  • North America: Pr. Eugenia Kumacheva, Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Toronto in Canada, for the design and development of new materials with many applications including targeted drug delivery for cancer treatments and materials for high density optical data storage.

  • Europe: Pr. Athene M. Donald, Professor of Experimental Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory in the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, for her work in unravelling the mysteries of the physics of messy materials, ranging from cement to starch.

  • Latin America: Pr. Beatriz Barbuy, Professor at the Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, for her work on the life of stars from the birth of the universe to the present time.



  • A Prestigious Jury Presided by Ahmed Zewail, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1999
    The 2009 L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards Jury is made up of 17 eminent members of the international scientific community from five continents, with Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1999 recipient Pr. Ahmed Zewail as the Jury President. Professor Christian de Duve, who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine 1974, is the Founding President of the Awards, and Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, is Honorary President.

    Awarded the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work the field of femtochemistry*, Pr. Zewail is the Linus Pauling Chair Professor of Chemistry and Physics at the California Institute of Technology. Born in Egypt, Pr. Zewail holds honorary degrees from some 30 universities around the world, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Royal Society (London), Royal Swedish Academy, and the French and Russian Academy of Sciences, among others. He serves on boards of international institutions of higher education, and from 1991-2007 was Chief Editor of Chemical Physics Letters, an influential scientific journal. In addition to his scientific achievements, Pr. Zewail is totally committed to inspiring young people about science, and contributes to humanitarian efforts. His collaboration with the L'Oreal Corporate Foundation reaffirms both the scientific rigor and philanthropic value of the L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science.

    As President of the Jury, Pr. Zewail oversees the identification, analysis and final selection of the world's five most astounding women in international science. "It is a pleasure to be the president of the jury," says Pr. Zewail. "There is no doubt that the programme's goal of identifying women notable for their scientific excellence is of major importance to the future of science and our world.”

    A Pioneering Programme: More Than 10 Years of Supporting Women in Science
    Created in 1998, the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science were established as the first international awards dedicated to women scientists around the world. More than 10 years and 57 Laureates later, the programme is a benchmark of international scientific excellence, and an invaluable source of motivation, support, and inspiration for women in the scientific field. The Awards alternate each year between Life Sciences and Physical Sciences, recognising work that addresses major challenges in modern science. The Laureates serve as role models for future generations, encouraging young women around the world to follow in their footsteps.

    In addition to its international Laureates, the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science programme has to date granted 120 International Fellowships and 340 National Fellowships to female doctoral and postdoctoral students, fostering a global community of scientific talent that continues to grow each year.

    * Femtochemistry is the science of studying atoms and molecules in “slow motion” during a reaction, allowing the human eye to witness chemical events that occur in quadrillionths of a second.