(From left: 2019 winners with H.E. Mr Aurelien Lechevallier, Professor Martiale Zabaze-Kana (UNESCO), Chelsea Tucker, Yogandree Ramsamy, Busiswa Ndaba, Melissa Nel, Sinenhlanhla Sikhosana, Gilles Antoine (L'Oreal South Africa), Shantelle Claassen and Dr Phil Mjwara (Department of Science and Innovation)
The first edition of the L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science South African National Programme, highlights L'Oreal's strong commitment to South African female scientists and its ambition to contribute to the development of scientific excellence.
The L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science initiative began 21 years ago and has supported and raised the profile of 107 laureates and more than 3,100 talented young doctoral and post-doctoral scientists, providing research grants in 117 countries. The sub-Saharan Africa regional programme saw significant growth since it's inception in 2010. With the vision of reaching more female scientists across Africa, the first edition of the L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science South African National Young Talents programme was launched, this year.
Today, there are simply not enough women scientists in Africa to drive change at the scale at which it is needed. Science and technology are among the principle keys to addressing these challenges. It is vital that women and men are empowered to contribute fully and equally to the development of solutions, foster innovation and enrich locally relevant research, explains Gilles Antoine, Country Manager of L'Oreal South Africa.
The world continues to face unprecedented challenges such as climate change, water scarcity, exposure to illnesses and challenges with food security, among other issues. Women in science can change the world. They have the power to change the world provided they are given the means. This year, as we honour seven emerging women scientists from across South Africa, we reaffirm our commitment to empowering more young women scientists, so that they receive the recognition they deserve, he concludes.
AN EXCEPTIONAL INITIATIVE TO EMPOWER SEVEN YOUNG SOUTH AFRICAN RESEARCHERS
The seven female researchers five doctoral and two post-doctoral were selected for the scientific excellence of their work from over 175 applicants, by a jury of independent experts.
The winners will travel to Dakar, Senegal to attend the sub-Saharan Africa regional programme leadership training and ceremony. They will benefit from a training programme that will help strengthen their career. The objective is to empower them to pursue their career and break the glass ceiling more easily.
These female researchers were awarded a research grant at a ceremony in Johannesburg on Thursday night in front of a distinguished audience. This entire initiative serves one goal; highlight scientific excellence of female researchers in South Africa, in order to create role models, encourage other young women to become scientists and empower women to shape the future of the continent.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WINNERS
Each PhD candidate will receive a research grant of R80 000
Dr Yogandree Ramsamy
Department of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Triangulating the Molecular Epidemiology of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae from Humans, Food, Animals and the Environment
Antibiotics are used in animals for food production and treating infections. In human health, they are used in the prevention and management of infectious disease. Dr Ramsamy is researching antibiotics resistance in the one health context. Her research will assist in saving antimicrobials for future generations to fight infectious diseases globally
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town
Nasopharyngeal bacterial community profiles as a biomarker for Lower Respiratory Tract Infections (LRTI) during infancy
Shantelle is contributing to research focused on enhanced detection of pathogenic microorganisms to improve the aetiological diagnosis of Lower Respiratory Tract Infections (LRTIs). LRTIs, in particular pneumonia remains the biggest killer of children under five. The primary victims are children from sub-Saharan African countries.
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town
Designing a catalyst with improved fuel selectivity for decentralized waste-to-fuel production in Africa
Chelsea is designing a simpler way to convert organic waste to fuel using a South African grown technique called the Fischer-Tropsch process. Decentralising diesel production would vastly improve energy security in the region and become a revenue source for marginalised communities.
Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, University of Cape Town
Machine Learning and Data Clustering Techniques to Probe Fast Radio Bursts and Constrain Cosmological Parameters
Emma's background is in theoretical cosmology, but two things drew her to practical work in astrophysics for her PhD: the rise of machine learning and data science; and the enormous advancements in telescope sensitivity and design. Of particular interest to her, are Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) described as very bright and brief radio signals that emanate from outside our galaxy. She is using mathematical and computational techniques to analyse astronomical signals. This will help determine the distribution of matter in our galaxy.
College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Diffuse Radio Emission in Atacama Cosmology Telescope's polarimetric extension Clusters
Sinenhlanhla uses radio telescopes to observe galaxy clusters. These are a large group of galaxies, like our Milky Way, bound together by gravity. The data collected by telescopes is used to study the physical processes occurring within the clusters. Her research entails understanding high-energy particle physics on large-scale structures in the universe. The methods used will shed light on how to handle image processing using big data.
Each post-doctoral award winner will receive a research grant of R160 000
Dr Melissa Nel
Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town
Investigating the genetic basis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in subjects of African genetic ancestry
The cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is unknown and there is no effective treatment for this disease. Sufferers are condemned to a poor quality of life and a dismal prognosis usually succumbing to death from respiratory failure within three years of symptom onset. Dr Nel is establishing a Neuromuscular Disease and Genomic Medicine Research Group. The aim is to understand the genetic factors which predispose an individual to developing ALS. She hopes to use her unique skillset to identify ALS susceptibility genes in Africans.
Dr Busiswa Ndaba
Institute for Soil, Climate and Water, Agricultural Research Council
Sustainable production and application of nanofertilizers through the adoption of biosynthesis approach
Dr Ndaba is investigating sustainable production and application of nanofertilizers through the adoption of biosynthesis approach using plant extracts in place of chemicals. This project can go a long way in assisting crop producers with alternative methods to increase their crop growth. This will in turn form part of the world's sustainable developmental goals, aimed at no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being.
Source: Department: Science and Technology