Five chemists are being honoured with Elsevier Foundation Awards for Early Career Women Scientists in the Developing World, each for research that looks to nature for ways to address cancer, malaria and other medical problems. The winning researchers, representing five regions of the developing world, are from Indonesia, Jamaica, Nigeria, Uzbekistan and Yemen.
The prizes are awarded by The Elsevier Foundation, the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) and The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries (TWAS), which operates operates under the administrative umbrella of UNESCO, with the aim of building scientific strength and advancing scientific knowledge in developing countries. It recognize the outstanding contributions and achievements of female scientists that live and work in a developing country and are in the early stages of their career. The winners will receive their awards during a ceremony on Saturday 15 February at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Chicago.
The focus of the 2014 competition was chemistry. A selection panel of eminent chemists independently selected each winner based on her achievements, finding that the best candidates all had impressive accomplishments in applying the chemistry of nature to pharmaceutical science. The Elsevier Foundation prize includes USD $5,000 and all-expenses paid attendance at the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago. In 2015 the prize will be for physics and mathematics.
The 2014 winners are:
- Central & South Asia
Dr. Nilufar Mamadalieva
Institute of the Chemistry of Plant Substances, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Biochemistry: For her work on the phytochemical and biological investigation of active compounds derived from medicinal plants growing in Central Asia, in particular the development of efficient nutraceuticals and the discovery of new lead compounds for the pharmaceutical industry.
- East and South-East Asia & the Pacific
Faculty of Pharmacy, Dr. Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Medicinal Chemistry: For her work in the field of organic synthesis, focusing on the development of tropical medicines, in particular improved methods for the synthesis of sulfoxides and their application in the preparation of biologically active targets.
- Latin America & the Caribbean
Dr. Simone Ann Marie Badal McCreath
Natural Products Institute, University of the West Indies, Jamaica, West Indies
Biochemistry: For her work in designing a new cell culture lab to investigate the cancer-fighting properties of Jamaican natural compounds.
- Arab region
Dr. Eqbal Mohammed Abdu Dauqan
Department of Medical Laboratories Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Al-Saeed University, Taizz, Yemen
Biochemistry: For her research on the antioxidant properties of vegetable oils and specialized research in sensory evaluation and organic chemistry.
- Sub-Saharan Africa
Dr. Taiwo Olayemi Elufioye
Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
Phamacology: For her research on the medicinal properties of native Nigerian plants, in particular the effectiveness of different species in treating malaria, wounds, memory loss, leprosy and cancer.
"The winners of the 2014 Elsevier Foundation prizes are impressive not just for their research, but also for their potential," said TWAS Executive Director Romain Murenzi. "Certainly these awards could bring them exciting new opportunities for research. We also believe that, over time, these researchers also will fulfill their potential as teachers and mentors, as partners in international projects and as advisers to governments. Such leadership can make a long-lasting contribution to global science."
Samira Omar Asem, vice president for the OWSD Arab Region, emphasized that “OWSD and TWAS see this award as vital for encouraging women in developing countries to be more involved in science and technology and to make a more significant contribution to social and economic developments”.
David Ruth, Executive Director of the Elsevier Foundation, said: “Professional visibility is crucial to developing high-profile international scientific careers, especially for women. The Elsevier Foundation provides support to early-career women scholars through our New Scholars grant programs and mentoring, research retreats, professional visibility, childcare, work-life integration and recognition programs. The awards for these impressive women scientists represent a cooperative effort supported by Elsevier, OWSD, AAAS and TWAS to build research capacity and advance scientific knowledge throughout the developing world – and what better place than the annual AAAS conference to raise awareness among scientists, policymakers, journalists and the public about the need to retain and celebrate women scientists.”
In interviews, the winners acknowledged that the awards could have a significant impact on their work.
Dr. Ritmaleni, from Indonesia, said, "Women need science, science needs women and they need to work together."
Dr. Nilufar Mamadalieva from Uzbekistan, on hearing the news that she had won the award for Central and South Asia, felt honored that her hard work in science had been recognized. “This Award gives me confidence and confirms that I’m going for the right goal,” she said.
The winner for the Arab region, Dr. Eqbal Dauqan from Yemen, stressed the impact the award would have on women from her region. “The prize is very encouraging for Arab women and is the result of efforts to enhance scientific research in the Arab world”, she said.
Dr. Simone Badal McCreath, from Jamaica, said she was “overwhelmed and truly humbled to be receiving such a prestigious award. It will no doubt inspire my students, mentees and the community of Jamaican women,” McCreath said. “Such an award is also vital towards increasing awareness and consequently interest among the private sector and governmental communities and will encourage the development of an anti-cancer research facility of excellence in Jamaica and, by extension, in the Caribbean”.
TWAS – The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries – works to advance innovation and sustainable prosperity in the developing world through scientific research, education, policy and diplomacy. Originally named the Third World Academy of Sciences, it was founded in 1983 by a distinguished group of scientists from the South under the leadership of Nobel laureate Abdus Salam of Pakistan, and officially launched by the secretary-general of the United Nations in 1985. Today, the Academy's strength resides in the quality and diversity of its membership – more than 1,100 internationally renowned scientists from 90 countries elected by their peers. Based in Trieste, Italy, TWAS receives core funding from the Italian government and is administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) is an international organization affiliated with TWAS. Headed by eminent women scientists from the South, OWSD has more than 4,000 members. The central role is to promote women’s access to science and technology, enhancing their greater involvement in decision-making processes for the development of their countries and in the international scientific community. Created in 1989, OWSD's overall goal is to work towards bridging the gender gap in science and technology. OWSD uses its forum to promote leadership, exchanges and networking for women scientists as well as for discussions to assist in the development of national capabilities to evolve, explore and improve strategies for increasing female participation in science.
About The Elsevier Foundation
The Elsevier Foundation is a corporate charity funded by Elsevier, a global provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. The Elsevier Foundation provides grants to knowledge-centered institutions around the world, with a focus on developing world libraries, nurse faculty and scholars in the early stages of their careers. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than 60 grants worth millions of dollars to non-profit organizations working in these fields. Through gift-matching, the Foundation also supports the efforts of Elsevier employees to play a positive role in their local and global communities.