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L’Oréal USA Announces 2023 For Women in Science Awardees

Five postdoctoral scientists were awarded grants to advance groundbreaking research.

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By: Lianna Albrizio

L’Oréal USA Announces 2023 For Women in Science Awardees

L'Oréal USA has announced the recipients of its 2023 For Women in Science (FWIS) Fellowship program.
 
Every year, the program awards five female postdoctoral scientists to support their research endeavors. This year marks L'Oréal USA's 20th anniversary of helping to advance women in STEM fields through its FWIS program, which has provided more than $5 million in grants to support the work of innovative women scientists.
 
The 2023 class of L'Oréal USA For Women in Science recipients specialize in the fields of biology, biological engineering, biomedical engineering, data science/biotechnology and microbiology.
 
“L'Oréal USA is proud to recognize this 20th Anniversary milestone of the For Women in Science program. This initiative has become a hallmark for our company, which for two decades has given women in STEM the visibility and resource contributions needed to help them excel in their fields, advance their careers and establish themselves as leaders and role models for the next generation of girls and young women,” said Marissa Pagnani McGowan, L'Oréal Groupe's chief sustainability officer for North America. “We are delighted to showcase this exceptional class of FWIS awardees, who will undoubtedly carry on this legacy, complete groundbreaking research and inspire others to impact the world through their game-changing science.”

Award Recipients 

Bria Macklin – Her research in data science and biotechnology at the Gladstone Institutes focuses on how to improve current gene editing strategies for genetic diseases that affect motor neurons. Successful gene therapies have the potential to change lives, and many genetic diseases are currently uncurable. Her research reportedly has the potential to generate new cures.
 
Taylor Medwig-Kinney – Her research in biology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill focuses on how cells change shape during development, using microscopic worms called C.elegans that allow her to observe cells changing shape in real time. Studying this can help understand when this process goes wrong in humans, which can lead to conditions such as spina bifida.
 
Joscelyn Mejías – Her research in biomedical engineering at John Hopkins University focuses on studying uterine fibroids, a non-cancerous but painful tumor of the uterus that can impact fertility. Uterine fibroids are extremely common, yet not well understood. She hopes her research will lead to new and better treatment options for targeting uterine fibroids and fibrosis.
 
Jessleen Kanwal – Her research in biology and biological engineering at the California Institute of Technology focuses on how animals interact adaptively with other organisms, focusing on the rove beetle species to understand how it uses sensory cues that are critical for survival. Understanding this in the beetle brain can help identify core functions of the human brain to identify when we're aging and where our ability to combine the senses and interact with others starts to decline.
 
Caitlin Kowalski – Her research in microbiology at the University of Oregon focuses on how the fungi that live on our bodies can help protect humans from infection. There is very little known about how host-associated fungi contribute to human health, and her work emphasizes the importance of considering fungi as a resource to identify new antibiotics.

Dream Scientists Serving Society 

The L'Oréal USA FWIS philanthropic program embodies L'Oréal's “fundamental belief in the indispensable connection between science and women,” according to the company. This initiative aspires to cultivate a postdoctoral community of women, empowering them to persist in their research, attain leadership roles, and become inspirational mentors for the generations of women and girls that will follow in their path.
 
“From all of us here at AAAS, we are incredibly grateful for L'Oréal's investment of more than $5 million to women scientists in the postdoctoral stage of their careers,” said Travis York, director of inclusive STEM ecosystems for equity and diversity at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which has served as a FWIS partner for nearly 20 years. “Together, we have ensured that 100 women have had the financial security and support to become the scientists they always dreamed of being and serving society through their research efforts.”
 
L'Oréal USA will recognize the 2023 For Women in Science recipients at an awards ceremony hosted by CBS Evening News Anchor and Managing Editor, Norah O'Donnell, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington DC on Thursday, Nov. 16.
 
The ceremony serves as a capstone to a week-long program of events and engagements for the For Women in Science Fellows. Earlier events in Washington, D.C, include a symposium hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine (NASEM) focused on advancing women leaders in science, engineering and medicine. The mentoring event will feature an expert panel focused on the importance of STEM communication in promoting gender equity in STEM fields. The awardees will have the opportunity to present their scientific research and to engage in a scientific exchange with a cohort of scientists from L'Oréal.
 
Also included is a roundtable discussion hosted by UNESCO focused on the link between issues of women in science and the opportunities that science diplomacy plays in promoting global cooperation. This forum will serve as an opportunity for the awardees to learn about the work of UNESCO in the field of advancing scientific engagement as a diplomatic tool and to explore how they can engage with and contribute to global science diplomacy.
 
Since 2003, the L'Oréal USA FWIS program has acknowledged and supported 100 postdoctoral female scientists, contributing more than $5 million to fuel innovation in fields spanning neurobiology, metabolic diseases, physics and material science, integrative biology, and biomedical engineering. This initiative serves as the US segment of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Awards, a global program established in 1998 to honor and empower women scientists globally. Over the years, the international program, alongside nearly 52 national and regional counterparts, has collectively bolstered the careers of over 4,100 female scientists from 110 different countries.
 
The candidates for the L'Oréal USA FWIS program are evaluated based on their intellectual merit, research potential, scientific excellence, and their commitment to supporting women and girls in science. The L'Oréal USA program includes a requirement to ensure recipients are committed to serving as role models for younger generations. Since 2005, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has served as L'Oréal USA's fellowship partner, engaging experienced scientists to peer review applications in the candidates' respective fields and convening a jury to select the annual winners.
 
To apply for the L'Oréal For Women in Science 2024 program, go here.

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