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L'Oréal Honors Banfield with Women in Science Award

March 8, 2011

13th annual L'Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Awards recognize five exceptional women scientists worldwide.

Professor Jillian Banfield, professor of earth and planetary science, of environmental science, policy and management, and of materials science and engineering, University of California, Berkeley, has been named the 2011 North American Laureate at the 13th Annual L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards, held March 3, 2011 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.

Professor Ahmed Zewail, winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and president of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards Jury, hosted the ceremony where Professor Banfield was recognized among the five Laureates of the 2011 program. Each year, five outstanding women scientists – one per continent – are honored for the contributions of their research, the strength of their commitments and their impact on society. With the Marie Curie Nobel Centenary being celebrated in 2011, this year the For Women in Science program has a particularly strong resonance, placing women and chemistry at the heart of science today. Each Laureate received their award from Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO and Lindsay Owen-Jones, Chairman of L’Oréal and L’Oréal Foundation, along with $100,000 in recognition of her contributions to science.


(top to bottom, left to right): Prof. Jillian Banfield, Prof. Vivian Wing-Wah YAM, Prof. Faiza Al-Kharafi, Prof. Anne L’Huillier, Prof. Silvia Torres-Peimbert. Photos: V. Durruty & P. Guedj for the L’Oréal Corporation Foundation.

“Only 10% of university professors and fewer than 5% of science academics are women; so much talent is wasted because girls turn away from these types of fields,” commented Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO. “By encouraging women in science & technology we hope to change the face of research.”

“More than ever, the world needs science and science needs women; it also needs heart and passion,” commented Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, chairman of L’Oréal and the L’Oréal Foundation. “Today, our For Women in Science program is a great success. Among all the initiatives that I have had the chance to develop, it is most certainly the one that brings me the most joy, and of which I am the most proud.”

More than 1,000 high-level scientists from around the world were involved in the nomination of the Awards’ candidates, who come from five continents. The International Awards Jury, comprised of 16 eminent members of the scientific community, and presided over by Professor Ahmed Zewail then selected the five women researchers in the Physical Sciences as the Laureates of the 2011 Awards. Their pioneering projects contribute to finding solutions to major challenges for the planet.

TheLaureates of the 13th Annual L’Oréal-UNESCO 2011 For Women in Science Awards are:

Africa and Arab States: Professor Faiza Al-Kharafi,Professor of Chemistry, Kuwait University, Safat, Kuwait—For her work on corrosion, a problem of fundamental importance to water treatment and the oil industry.
Asia/ Pacific: Professor Vivian Wing-Wah YAM,Professor of Chemistry and Energy, The University of Hong Kong, China—For her work on light-emitting materials and innovative ways of capturing solar energy.
Europe: Professor Anne L’Huillier,Professor of Atomic Physics, Lund University, Sweden—For her work on the development of the fastest camera for recording events in attoseconds (a billionth of a billionth of a second).
Latin America: Professor Silvia Torres-Peimbert,Professor Emeritus, Institute of Astronomy, Mexico City University (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico—For her work on the chemical composition of nebulae which is fundamental to our understanding of the origin of the universe.
North America: Professor Jillian Banfield,Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, and of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, United States—For her work on bacterial and material behaviour under extreme conditions relevant to the environment and the Earth.
An International Awards Jury presided by Professor Ahmed Zewail, (1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry) selected the laureates, who each received US $100,000.The Awards,recognizing work that addresses major challenges in modern science, were presented by the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova and the Chairman of L’Oréal Corporate Foundation Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones.
The 2011 For Women in Science International Fellows each received up to US$40,000 over two years to help them pursue research outside their countries of origin.

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