Five women physicists honoured, 15 fellowships awarded by UN agency

4 March 2005

Five women physicists tackling the problems of air pollution and extracting heavy petroleum, as well as improving quantum computers and putting a space station on Mars have won major awards from the UN scientific agency, as it encourages women to study science.

Fifteen fellowships also went to women research scientists around the world at an award ceremony yesterday in Paris at the headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

"The Laureates work in the most promising areas of physics: nanoscience or quantum physics," UNESCO said.

"Their research concerns the technologies of semiconductors, measuring atmospheric pollution, the extraction of heavy petroleum trapped underground. It is also the stuff of dreams, such as building a module for the International Space Station on Mars or developing quantum computers that could revolutionize the way we work today."

The five winners of the L'Oréal-UNESCO awards were Zohra Ben Lakhdar of Tunisia, Belita Koiller of Brazil, Myriam P. Sarachik of the United States, Fumiko Yonezawa of Japan and Dominique Langevin of France.

Two Nobel Laureates took part in the ceremony, the 1991 winner for physics, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, who presided, and the winner in 1974 for medicine and founding president of the L'Oréal UNESCO awards, Christian de Duve.