The United Nations and the cosmetics giant L’Oreal announced today the five women scientists who will receive their joint award for their advances in scientific research.
The award, which is given out each year by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and L’Oreal, honours five women from different regions of the world who are selected by an independent jury made up of eminent members of the global scientific community.
This year’s winners are: Jill Farrant from South Africa, Ingrid Scheffer from Australia, Frances Ashcroft from the United Kingdom, Susana López from Mexico, and Bonnie Bassler from the United States.
Each laureate will receive $100,000 in recognition for their contribution to the advancement of science.
The contributions of this year’s winners cover a wide range of issues. Ms. Farrant, who is research chair at the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town, receives the prize “for discovering how plants survive under dry conditions,” while Ms. López, who teaches developmental genetic and molecular physiology at the National University of Cuernavaca in Mexico, will be honoured for identifying how rotaviruses cause the death of 600,000 children each year.
Ms. Ashcroft, who is a research professor at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at Oxford University, will be honoured for her work advancing the understanding of insulin secretion and of neonatal diabetes.
Ms. Scheffer, Chair of Paediatric Neurology and Research at the University of Melbourne, will receive recognition for her work identifying genes involved in some forms of epilepsy.
Ms. Bassler, who is a professor at the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, will be honoured for her work understanding the chemical communication between bacteria.
“The work of the 2012 Award Laureates yielded remarkable insights into human health issues, such as diabetes, brain seizures, bacterial and viral infections, and extending to the cultivation of plants in arid areas,” said Günter Blobel, president of the jury and winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1999. “Their research is truly original and each is among the best in five distinct regions of the world.”
According to a news release issued by UNESCO, an international network of nearly 1,000 scientists nominates the candidates for each year’s awards, and the winners are chosen based on their work’s potential to have a major impact on society.
Since 1998, the L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Award in Life Sciences has recognized exceptional women who have helped to “move science forward” with the aim of encouraging women throughout their careers.