Changes to For Women In Science Programme announced with 2014 Fellows

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12 June 2014

Winners from the University of Cambridge, University of Manchester, Imperial College London and University of Oxford each granted a £15,000 flexible fellowship to help further their research. The awards were announced in London along with changes to the 2015 programme including extending applications for engineering, maths and computer science.

The winners of the highly contested 2014 L'Oréal-UNESCO UK & Ireland For Women In Science Fellowships (FWIS) were announced last night at a ceremony at London's Royal Society.

With women currently making up just 13% of employees involved in STEM careers , the fellowships - now in their eighth year in the UK & Ireland - promote the importance of ensuring greater participation of women in science. The FWIS UK & Ireland fellowships have been designed to provide flexible financial help to four outstanding female postdoctoral scientists to continue research in their chosen fields. The fellowships, worth £15,000 each can be spent on whatever they may need to continue their research. The four winners stated that they will be using their prize money for a range of support such as equipment, field trips, attendance at conferences, international collaborations and childcare.

Of the 289 women who applied for the fellowships, one in four said that they would use the fellowship money to fund childcare, highlighting the unique value of the fellowship in providing flexible funding to support women in science.

The winners were selected by a jury of eminent scientists, chaired by Professor Pratibha Gai who was awarded L'Oréal's prestigious International Laureate in 2013, and included Royal Society Vice President Professor John Pethica; Professor Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission; Dr Beth Taylor, Director of Natural Sciences, UK National Commission for UNESCO; Katriona Methven, Director of Scientific and Technical-Regulatory Affairs at L'Oréal UK & Ireland; Dame Janet Thornton, Director of the European Bioinformatics Institute and Professor John O'Halloran, Head of School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences at University College Cork.

The 2014 winners are:

Dr. Clémence Blouet, University of Cambridge
'The consequences of high-fat intake on the hypothalamus and the mechanism behind obesity.'

Dr Tracy Briggs, University of Manchester
'Understanding single-gene disorders that lead to systemic lupus'

Dr. Eva-Maria Graefe, Imperial College London
'Engineering holes in quantum systems'

Dr. Sneha Malde, University of Oxford
'Searching for New Physics through measuring the differences between matter and anti-matter'

Chair of the judging panel, Pratibha Gai, Professor of Chemistry and Physics, Founding Professor of Electron Microscopy and co-director of the York Nanocentre at the University of York commented on the winners: "We had an absolutely outstanding shortlist this year, and these four women – Dr. Clémence Blouet, Dr Tracy Briggs, Dr. Eva-Maria Graefe and Dr. Sneha Malde exemplify perfectly what the For Women in Science Fellowships stand for. They are deeply talented, committed and hard-working scientists, who have huge passion for their research areas. I am excited to see what they all achieve in the coming year, and am confident that the influence and dedication of the female scientific community in the UK is well represented by these remarkable women."

Katriona said: "Choosing between this shortlist was an exceedingly difficult task, as all the shortlisted women were hugely impressive in their individual fields. However, it was inspiring to see the extraordinary work that is being carried out in diverse scientific disciplines all across the UK. These fellowships are designed to encourage, but also showcase, the amazing contribution female scientists are making, and considering this shortlist, I think we have achieved that this year."

Earlier this year L'Oréal joined the Government's 'Your Life' campaign, which encourages greater participation at all levels and particularly of young people in science, technology, maths and engineering. With women accounting for only 6% of the UK engineering workforce, from 2015 the For Women In Science programme will encourage applications from the engineering, mathematics and computer science fields and increase the number of fellowships to five worth £15,000 each. In addition, it will dedicate a separate annual fund of £20,000 for the UK & Ireland Fellows community to support their work as STEM ambassadors, engaging the wider population - and particularly young people - in science.

The awards are run in partnership with the UK National Commission for UNESCO, the Irish National Commission for UNESCO, with the support of the Royal Society.

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