Relive the 2015 For Women in Science Ceremony

Tonight was held one of the most important events dedicated to women in science. Before an audience of experts and influencers from the worlds of science, economy, academia and culture, the 17th edition of the Annual L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards took place in the Sorbonne’s historic lecture hall in Paris. DiscovHER was there to cover the ceremony. Relive here the highlights of the evening.

7:25pm - The excitement in the air is tangible. Attendees find their seats. In just a few minutes the room is full, and the anticipation at its peak. The ceremony can start.



7:30pm - French journalist and host of the evening, Elizabeth Tchoungui steps onstage to welcome the audience to this 17th edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards.


7:32pm-  Screening of the official video of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program.



7:40pm- Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO and Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and CEO of L’Oréal and Chairman of the L’Oréal Foundation take the floor to share the vision and explain the mission of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Program.



Launched in 1998, the program aims at closing the gender gap in science and ensuring women have the same chances as men to pursue scientific careers. Today, only 30% of the world’s researchers are women. Bias and cultural obstacles are major causes of this situation and it is one of the Foundation’s main missions to fight against them.


Through our partnership L’Oréal-UNESCO we constantly pursue the same dream: that of liberating the creative force of half of humanity. Prejudice hasn't vanished, and they tend to eclipse the role of women in science. Which is why we have been promoting for 17 years exceptional women in science and have launched last October the For Girls in Science program. Jean-Paul Agon

Both Irina Bokova and Jean Paul Agon emphasized on the fact that women greatly contribute to advancing science and finding solutions to the biggest challenges the world is facing.


We don’t celebrate “women scientists”, we celebrate exceptionnal scientists who happen to be women. This evening, we recognize five exceptional scientists, who are rewriting the story of science, who are inspiring other women to follow their path. Irina Bokova


7:50pm- The 15 young women researchers honored by the International Rising Talent Grant are called onstage. They were chosen among the 236 fellow of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For women In Science Program. Each in her field, these women are searching for new ways to tackle the environmental and health challenges. They arrive onstage by thematic groups corresponding to their studies. Sara Ravella, CEO of the L’Oréal Foundation and Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director General for Natural Sciences at UNESCO, greet them as they step on the stage to officially award them their grant.


Addressing the evolution of diseases and drug delivery for better therapeutics

• Dr Phuong Ha-Lien Tran, Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vietnam

• Dr Carolina Andrade, Associate Professor in Medicinal Chemistry, Brazil

• Dr Yoke-Fun Chan, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Virology, Malaysia

• Dr Kathryn Holt, Research Fellow in Pathogen Genomic Epidemiology, Australia

• Dr Vanessa D’Costa, Postdoctoral Fellow in Immunogenetics of Infectious Diseases, Canada


Tackling the challenges of sustainable development

• Dr Sanaa Sharafeddine, Associate Professor in Computer Science, Lebanon

• Dr Eva M. Pellicier, Ramon y Cajal Researcher in Materials Science, Nanotechnology, Spain


Studying the human body and its reaction to illness

• Dr Bhama Ramkhelawon, Postdoctoral Fellow in Medicine (diabetes and obesity), Mauritius

• Dr Nourtan Abdeltawab, Assistant Professor in Immunogenetics of Infectious Diseases, Egypt

• Dr Ariela Vergara-Jaque, Postdoctoral Fellow in Computational Structural Biology, Chili

• Dr Matilde Jimenez Coello, Lecturer and Researcher in Infectious Diseases, Mexico


Understanding how life works

• Ms Adriana Marais, PhD Student in Physics, Quantum Biology, South Africa

• Dr Aurore Avarguès-Weber, Postdoctoral Fellow in Cognitive Neurosciences, France

• Dr Mary Caswell Stoddard, Junior Fellow in Evolutionary biology and Ornithology, United States

• Dr Signe Normand, Assistant Professor in Plan Ecology, Macroecology, Biogeography, Denmark



8:00pm- Elizabeth Tchoungui interviews Adriana Marais and Sanaa Sharafeddine on their projects.


The allure of the unknown is more powerful than what we know. Which is why I look forward to pursuing my research on March. Ms. Adriana Marais
In Beirut, we have 3 hours of no electricity per day. I want to design and develop new strategies for a more stable and accessible energy. Dr. Sanaa Sharafeddine 

After a group photo that lit up the Sorbonne with the flashes of the audience, the Fellows return to their seats under a thunder of applause.



08:15pm- The momentum of the event has now arrived: the five For Women in Science Laureates are called onstage one by one. 5 films introducing each of their ground-breaking discoveries and their lives is shown before their acceptance speech.


08:17pm- First up: Prof. Rajaâ Charkaoui El Moursli, Laureate for Africa and the Arab States



This Award is for Africa. I hope I can be an example for more women in Africa and the Middle-East to puruse a career in science. Perseverance, courage, and work are always rewarded. Prof. Rajaâ Cherkaoui El Moursli

08:25pm- Now Prof. Yi Xie, Laureate for Asia - Pacific



This Award marks a new start in my scientific research career. Science can accelerate the process of the world, and foster sustainable developement. Let's work together towards this goal and encourage young pupils, girls and boys, to go into scientific research. Prof. Yi Xie

08:33pm- Prof. Dame Carol Robinson, Laureate for Europe



Your path doesn't matter. What is important is not how you start but where you get to. Together with my fellow Laureates, we represent many different paths, interests and fields, and I hope it will inspire the next generations. Prof. Dame Carol Robinson


08:41pm- Prof. Thaisa Storchi Bergmann, Laureate for Latin America



"Science is the joy of discovery. Young girls want to be actrices, models, why not scientists? Science can improve the world! This Award is very important because it makes women in science visible to the public and the media" Prof. Thaisa Storchi Bergmann


08:49pm- Last but not least, Prof. Molly Shoichet, Laureate for North America




"In the French motto Freedom, Equality, Fraterity, where is sorority? There are still very few women in science. For many reasons : lack of role models, men not valuing women in science, predjudice. This Award has changed this landscape." Prof. Molly Shoichet


08:57pm- Jean-Paul Agon, Irina Bokova and Prof. Christian Amatore, temporary President of the Laureate’s jury join the five brilliant researchers to give them their L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award. The audience is on its feet applauding these extraordinary women.



09:00pm- The Ceremony is coming to its end. The Fellows join the Laureates, Jean-Paul Agon, Irina Bokova and Prof. Christian Amatore for a last group photo. After a few concluding words by Elizabeth Tchoungui, everyone is invited to continue the evening in the reception area.


L’Oréal–UNESCO
For Women in Science

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