L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award Malaysia 2015
L’Oréal MALAYSIA honors three outstanding Malaysian female scientist in the 10th edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award
October 8, 2015, Kuala Lumpur. Founded in 1998, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science partnership was created to recognize and promote women in science. The partnership between the L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO is a match that is both innovative and natural. L’Oréal, founded by a scientist, Eugene Schueller, whose products are based on scientific research, has helped women develop self-esteem for over a century. Since its creation in 1945, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has centered its core values and actions on gender equality and the dissemination of knowledge, particularly scientific knowledge. Every year the program provides fellowships to promising women researchers at crucial junctures in their careers.
Despite, the efforts in place to promote women in sciences, there is still an apparent gender imbalance in the field of sciences. Women account for only 30% of the world’s researchers and only 3% of nobles prizes in sciences have been awarded to a woman. There are still barriers that discourage women from entering the profession and obstacles continue to block progress for those already in the field. L’Oréal Foundation together with its partners aims to change these numbers and reduce the gender imbalance. Mr. Ashwin Rajgopal, Managing Director of L’Oréal Malaysia adds, “The numbers show that we still have a long way to go to make women in science matter. Those numbers have to change and it’s our mission at L’Oréal to change those numbers.”
For the last 10 years in Malaysia, it has been L’Oréal’s long term commitment to accelerate the advancement of women in science that will serve as an inspiration for the future generations to come. Since its inception in 2006, the program has awarded and provided over RM700,000 research grants to 35 outstanding women scientists and will continue to change the numbers in Malaysia.
This year’s award ceremony was held at the Clarke Ballroom in Le Meridian Hotel Kuala Lumpur. The gala dinner reception welcomed guest of honor, Y.B. Dato’ Seri Mahdzir Khalid, Minister of Education of Malaysia. Also in attendance were YBhg. Tan Sri Dr. Madinah Mohamad, Secretary General, Ministry of Education, Dato’ Professor Dr. Asma Ismail, Director General of Higher Education, Ministry of Education and scientific luminaries from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Akedemi of Sains Malaysia, various Universities and education community in Malaysia.
In the address speech by Dato’ Seri Mahdzir Khalid, he stressed that “One of our most important agenda is to unshackle Malaysia from the middle-income trap. It is discomforting to know that countries which started on the same level as us have moved to position much further ahead. It was obviously evident, that these countries had made full use of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM in short, to boost their fortunes. The challenge now to ensure we harness our skills and knowledge in STEM across all sectors, to put us back on trajectory growth. So our first challenge is to create a STEM driven-economy. Our transformation towards high income advanced economy will indirectly provide a spectrum of work opportunities especially in science-related fields. It is estimated that 1 million, or 6% out of 15 millions jobs would be in the domains of STEM-related employment by the year 2020.”
Dato’ Seri Mahdzir Khalid added, “L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award is seen as a priceless recognition awarded to women – in line with Malaysia’s effort to increase the number of women participants to partake science. In addition, this award has provided a platform where young and talented women are able to express their idea which in turn may contribute to country’s well-being and development.”
The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science ceremony started with a special presentation by this year’s L’Oréal-UNESCO International Rising Talent fellow, Dr. Chan Yoke Fun, Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, University Malaya. She is one of out of the 15 International Rising Talent that received her award earlier this year in Paris. She was chosen from among the winners of the 236 fellowships awarded locally by L’Oréal subsidiaries and UNESCO around the world. Dr. Chan’s research aims to develop a new treatment for enterovirus A71, that caused hand, foot and mouth disease in children. “Receiving the L’Oréal-UNESCORising Talent Award in University of Sorbonne Paris, was truly fulfilling and empowering. Part of the program includes interaction and sharing with the five distinguished Laureates whose secrets of success includes being committed, courageous and unified by a common passion to the advancement of science,” said Dr. Chan in her speech.
Probably one of Malaysia’s most coveted and sought after award amongst women in the scientific community. This year, the fellowship was opened to all Malaysian women researcher/scientist under the age of 40 years, who are PhD holders or currently pursuing research studies in any scientific field. Each recipient will receive RM30,000 grant to help pursue their research. An overwhelming response of 149 applicants from various field of sciences were received for consideration of this programme.
Each year, an esteemed panel of jury members nominated by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia National Commission for UNESCO and Akademi Sains Malaysia come together to evaluate the most promising research projects submitted by outstanding female scientists in Malaysia. Our panel of jury this year was led by one of Malaysia’s the most distinguished female scientist, Professor Datin Paduka Dr. Aini Ideris of Universiti Putra Malaysia. The jury panel evaluated each proposal based on criteria such as project significance in terms of its merit and value contribution, originality and purpose, contribution to science, methodology, academic achievements and overall project quality.
After a thorough deliberation, the jury panel arrived at the following winners of the award – each are working on breakthrough scientific research, which addressed critical global challenges that could aid millions around the world. They are:
Dr. Oon Chern Ein, Universiti Sains Malaysia. For her research on a new synthetic compound that could potentially work in adjunct with chemotherapy to treat resistant colon cancer.
Dr. Normi Mohd Yahaya, Universiti Putra Malaysia. For her research on overcoming antimicrobial resistance by generating new peptides as combative agents towards antibiotics-resistant pathogen.
Dr. Wan Wardatul Amani Wan Salim, International Islamic University Malaysia. For her research on portable water quality assessment to enhance water-filtration projects to combat e.Coli
L’Oréal Scientific Legacy
Since L’Oréal was created by a researcher, chemist Eugène Schueller, over a century ago, L’Oréal has never stopped believing in research as a source of innovation and progress: pushing the boundaries of science and knowledge, promoting research, strengthening the role of women in science, recognizing excellence and encouraging scientific vocations and investment in new research areas.
About the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation
The L’Oréal Foundation embodies the L’Oréal Group’s commitment to embracing corporate citizenship through acts of generosity. It focuses on science and beauty – the two pillars on which L’Oréal has built its success for over a century – as the strategic focus for the Foundation’s actions. Science stands at the very heart of the Foundation’s activities. Its star initiative, the “For Women in Science” program developed in partnership with UNESCO, recognizes women who have contributed to scientific progress on every continent, and promotes scientific advances worldwide. The Foundation’s other commitments focus on the belief that beauty should be accessible to everyone and that it plays a key role in moving our society forward –‐ through transforming lives through reconstructive surgery, socio–‐aesthetic workshops or education –‐ as a means of improving the life quality of vulnerable people, helping them return to normal life, and restoring the self–‐esteem and dignity they need to make their way in society.
Since its creation in 1945, UNESCO has pursued its mission of promoting science at the service of sustainable development and peace. It focuses on policy development and building capacities in science, technology and innovation and promoting and strengthening science education and engineering. UNESCO fosters the sustainable management of freshwater, oceans and terrestrial resources, the protection of biodiversity, and using the power of science to cope with climate change and natural hazards. The Organization also works to eliminate all forms of discrimination and to promote equality between men and women, especially in scientific research.
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Press release provided by L’Oréal MALAYSIA