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Home > Press > 2009 L'Oreal-UNESCO Laureate Awards Honor Five Diverse and Extraordinary Women Scientists

From Food to Flat Screens, Women Scientists Make a Difference in Our Everyday Lives

2009 L'Oreal-UNESCO Laureate Awards Honor Five Diverse and Extraordinary Women Scientists

PARIS, France | Posted on March 5th, 2009

For their pioneering work in science, the L'Oreal-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science honored today five distinguished women researchers whose work touches everything from the Milky Way to flat screen televisions. Diverse in origin, determined in nature and extraordinary in intellect, the 2009 Laureates were recognized at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France for their remarkable contributions to science.

Founded in 1998, the L'Oreal-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science were designed to recognize and advance women's role in the field of science. Since the inception of the program, 57 Award Laureates have been honored. Each year, five distinguished women researchers from five continents are chosen by an eminent Jury comprised of members of the international scientific community and awarded $100,000 each.

The 2009 L'Oreal-UNESCO Award Laureates are:

-- Professor Tebello NYOKONG, Laureate for Africa & the Arab States in the
Physical Sciences
Medicinal Chemistry and Nanotechnology, Rhodes University, South Africa
"For her work on harnessing light for cancer therapy and for
environmental clean-up and for her work in phototherapy and
environmental remediation combining organic dyes and quantum dots."

-- Professor Akiko KOBAYASHI, Laureate for Asia & the Pacific in the
Physical Sciences
Chemistry, Nihon University, Japan
"For her work on organic metals which could open up new possibilities
in electronic devices and for her contribution to the development of
molecular conductors and the design and synthesis of a
single-component organic metal."

-- Professor Eugenia KUMACHEVA, Laureate for North America in the
Physical Sciences
Chemistry, The University of Toronto, Canada
"For the design and development of new materials with many
applications including targeted drug delivery and materials for
high density optical data storage and for her research on fundamental
and applied properties of polymers, including the conceptualization
and development of new materials."

-- Professor Athene M. DONALD, Laureate for Europe in the Physical
Physics, Cambridge University, United Kingdom
"For her work in unraveling the mysteries of the physics of messy
materials ranging from cement to starch and for the development of
novel electron and x-ray scattering methods and their applications in
soft matter physics."

-- Professor Beatriz BARBUY, Laureate for Latin America in the Physical
Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences,
University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
"For her work on the life of stars from the birth of the universe
to the present time and for her work on the chemical composition
of ancient stars and its relevance to the formation and evolution of

While the research may be daunting for the average person to comprehend, the 2009 L'Oreal-UNESCO Laureates are conducting laboratory research that has a real impact on everyday lives. For example, Professor Kobayashi's research has opened up new possibilities in electronics, from flat-screen televisions to computers and solar panels while Professor Kumacheva's research on polymers has led to the development of improved memory storage devices and innovative technological applications in cancer treatments.

"What impressed me most about the candidates for the 2009 Awards is the very large number of nominations that we received across many different fields of science and from all the continents in the world," said Professor Ahmed H. Zewail, President of the 2009 L'Oreal-UNESCO Awards Jury in the Physical Sciences. "Selecting the 2009 Laureates from the large pool of nominees was very difficult and at the same time very rewarding because each Laureate has clearly made a significant contribution in her own field of research."

In addition to their passion for science, each of the Laureates recognize that women have a significant contribution to make in the field and that future progress and discoveries are contingent on society's ability to effectively engage more of the population to pursue science careers.

For more information about the L'Oreal-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science, please visit:


About L'Oreal Corporate Foundation
The L'Oreal Corporate Foundation is committed to three areas of action: encouraging education, fostering scientific research, and creating bonds of solidarity for those in vulnerable circumstances. The L'Oreal Foundation, which presently regroups a number of major existing corporate philanthropy initiatives including the L'Oreal-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science will strengthen these actions and ensure their continuity, as well as develop new programs in the coming years.


Since its creation in 1945, UNESCO has promoted science - the "S" in its acronym - for peace. Today, UNESCO strives to reinforce international cooperation in the basic sciences among its 193 Member States and promotes ethical norms in science. The Organisation is dedicated to eliminating all forms of discrimination and promoting equality between men and women. As well as developing educational programmes in science particularly designed for girls, UNESCO has established a network of academic chairs creating links between women in science around the world.

For more information, please click here

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