22nd L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards recognizes five exceptional women researchers in the life sciences

On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO are announcing the winners of the 22nd For Women in Science Awards, which honour five exceptional women scientists from different regions of the world. This year, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards recognize the achievement of women scientists in the field of life sciences: biotechnology, ecology, epigenetics, epidemiology and infectiology.

Each of the five laureates will receive €100,000. They are recognized alongside 15 International Rising Talents, young women scientists from all over the world.

The 2020 For Women in Science laureates are:

Africa and the Arab States

Professor Abla Mehio Sibai – Medicine and Health sciences, Professor of Epidemiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon, for her pioneering research and advocacy to improve healthy ageing in low- and middle-income countries and their impact on health and social policy programmes.


Doctor Firdausi Qadri – Biological sciences, Senior Scientist, Head Mucosal Immunology and Vaccinology Unit, Infectious Diseases Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease and Research, Dhaka, Bangladesh, for her outstanding work to understand and prevent infectious diseases affecting children in developing countries, and promote early diagnosis and vaccination with global health impact.


Professor Edith Heard – Biological sciences, Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Chair of Epigenetics and Cellular Memory at the Collège de France, Paris, France, and former Director of the Genetics and Developmental Biology Unit at the Institut Curie, Fellow of the Royal Society (UK), for her fundamental discoveries concerning the mechanisms governing epigenetic processes, which allow mammals to regulate proper gene expression and are essential for life.

Latin America

Professor Esperanza Martínez-Romero – Ecology and Environmental sciences, Professor of Environmental Science at the Genomic Science Center of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico, for her pioneering work on the use of environmentally friendly bacteria to support plant growth for increased agricultural productivity and reduced use of chemical fertilizers.

North America

Professor Kristi Anseth – Biological sciences, Distinguished Professor, Tisone Professor and Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Colorado, Boulder, United States of America, for her outstanding contribution in converging engineering and biology to develop innovative biomaterials that help tissue regeneration and drug delivery.

The 15 International Rising Talents are:

Africa and the Arab States

Dr Laura-Joy Boulos – Neuroscience
Levant, Saint-Joseph University, Lebanon

Dr Nowsheen Goonoo – Biomedicine
Sub-Saharan Africa, University of Mauritius

Dr Nouf Mahmoud – Health Sciences
Levant, Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan

Georgina Nyawo – Molecular Biology, Medical Microbiology
Sub-Saharan Africa, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Asia Pacific

Dr Rui Bai – Biological sciences
China, Westlake University

Dr Huanqian Loh – Physics
Singapore, National University of Singapore

Dr Mikyung Shin – Biomaterials
Republic of Korea, Sungkyunkwan University

Latin America

Dr Paula Giraldo Gallo – Physics
Colombia, University of the Andes

Dr Patrícia Medeiros – Biological sciences
Brazil, Federal University of Alagoas

North America

Dr Elizabeth Trembath-Reichert – Earth Science /Environmental Science
United States of America, Arizona State University


Dr Vida Engmann – Material Engineering
Denmark, University of Southern Denmark

Dr Serap Erkek – Molecular biology / Epigenetics
Turkey, Cancer Epigenomics Laboratory, Biomedicine and Genome Center

Dr Jennifer Garden – Chemistry
United Kingdom, University of Edinburgh

Dr Cristina Romera Castillo – Marine sciences
Spain, Institute of Sea Sciences

Dr Olena Vaneeva – Mathematics
Ukraine, Institute of Mathematics of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine

For Women in Science: A commitment since 1998

Convinced that the world needs science, and that science needs women, UNESCO and L’Oréal Foundation actively support women in science, in order to increase their visibility, raise awareness of their talent and inspire more of them to work in science.

Every year since its creation in 1998, the For Women in Science programme has honoured and supported five outstanding women researchers from all regions, totalling 112 laureates to date. It has also supported more than 3,400 talented young women scientists, including doctoral candidates and post-doctoral researchers, in more than 110 countries.

Almost 260 talented young women scientists, doctoral candidates or post-doctoral researchers, are supported each year through the national and regional For Women in Science programmes. The 15 most promising researchers of this group, listed above, will be honoured in a ceremony at the French Academy of Sciences on 10 March.

Globally, women continue to represent only 29% of researchers. [1] Although they are more numerous in certain disciplines, the glass ceiling remains a reality within research as a whole. Men therefore occupy 89% of senior academic posts in Europe, [2] and only 3% of Nobel Prizes for Science have ever been awarded to women.



Media contacts –L’Oréal Foundation

Mathilde RATINAUD / / +33 (0)6 48 48 68 05
Gladys GROS-DÉSIR / / +33 (0)6 83 59 69 31
Aïda-Marie SALL / / +33 (0)6 80 00 45 59 

Media contact UNESCO

Lucia Iglesias Kuntz
Bernard Giansetto
Roni Amelan 

More on UNESCO’s science and gender

[1] UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030 (2015).

[2] Boston Consulting Group study for the Fondation L’Oréal (2013) on 14 countries (South Africa, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, Spain, United States, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Morocco, United Kingdom)