Three researchers have been shortlisted for the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship.
The scientists work in the fields of nanotechnology, synthetic biology and rural electrification.
There is a delicate balance that needs to be found if we want to be successful researchers and good mums as well Dr Francesca Ceroni Department of Chemical Engineering
Dr Francesca Ceroni and Dr Clementine Chambon, from the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Dr Nuria Oliva-Jorge from the Department of Bioengineering, are among 11 scientists shortlisted for the prestigious fellowship and could receive £15,000 to support a 12 month period of independent research.
The programme was founded 20 years ago by L'Oréal and UNESCO to promote and highlight the critical importance of ensuring greater participation of women in science. In addition to the funding, the Fellowship programme also provides support, training and networking opportunities.
Professor Stephen Curry, Assistant Provost for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said: “It is fantastic to have three women from Imperial shortlisted for the L’Oréal Women in Science programme. Dr Ceroni, Dr Chambon and Dr Oliva-Jorge are each to be congratulated on their fantastic achievements and are inspirational role models for our women students and early career researchers.”
Junior Research Fellow Dr Ceroni, Department of Chemical Engineering, works in the field of synthetic biology.
She said: “I am honoured to have been shortlisted for the L’Oréal-UNESCO Fellowship for Women in Science. It is such a prestigious fellowship. This proves the interest and importance of my proposed research that aims at advancing the applications of synthetic biology in mammalian cells for healthcare and cancer therapy.
“But it is also encouraging to witness the existence of such a scheme that wants to support female researchers that, like me, also have a family and children. There is a delicate balance that needs to be found if we want to be successful researchers and good mums as well and this fellowship provides the ideal support.”
Dr Chambon is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Chemical Engineering.
In 2015, Clementine Chambon co-founded the start-up company Oorja: Empowering Rural Communities with Amit Saraogi, an Indian social entrepreneur, to commercialise Imperial research on mini renewable power plants called “mini-grids”. These use solar energy and biomass such as crop waste as resources to produce energy for communities in India that are not on the national energy grid.
She said: “I am very happy to be a finalist for the L’Oréal Fellowship. It is very rewarding that our research in the Chemical Engineering department in designing and distributing cost-effective clean energy for rural communities is being recognised. I look forward to presenting my proposal and to meeting the other finalists!”
Dr Oliva-Jorge, Department of Bioengineering, said: “It is a great honour to have been shortlisted for these awards, and to be one of the three finalists from Imperial amongst this group of outstanding women scientists. This award is a unique initiative and an incredible opportunity to promote and facilitate the access of women to higher positions in science.”
The postdoctoral fellow joined the Almquist Lab at Imperial in 2017, where she is developing smart nanomaterials for controlled delivery of growth factors for bone repair. One in ten broken bones will never heal, and they cause a bigger impact on quality of life than heart attacks or AIDS. Currently clinically-approved therapies require very high doses of growth factor due to inefficient delivery, which causes serious side effects for the patient and have very high costs associated with protein production. This technology will enable the use of 1000-fold less growth factor, making this type of therapy safer and cheaper.
Each year, the programme recognises the achievements of exceptional female scientists across the globe and awards them with Fellowships to help further their research. Since the programme was founded in 1998, more than 2,000 women in over 110 countries have been recognised for their research.
Fellows have the opportunity to make valuable connections that can lead to interesting collaborations, publications and wider appreciation of their work.
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