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Five women scientists win 2018 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Awards

Five women scientists win 2018 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Awards

Early-career researchers living and working in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ecuador, Guyana, and Indonesia have been recognized for their work in mathematics, physics and chemistry.

Austin, Texas (USA) Five researchers have been named winners of the 2018 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Awards for Early-Career Women Scientists in the Developing World for their research in the physical sciences. The winning scientists from Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ecuador, Guyana and Indonesia are being recognized for research that has potentially valuable applications in environmental protection, industrial and energy production, and disaster preparedness.

The five winners also were recognized for their commitment to improving lives and livelihoods in their communities and regions, and for leading and mentoring young scientists in their universities.

The winners of the 2018 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Awards are:

  • Hasibun Naher of BRAC University in Bangladesh for work in applied mathematics (Central and South Asia Region);
  • Germaine Djuidje Kenmoe of the University of Yaounde 1 in Cameroon for her research in physics (Sub-Saharan Africa Region);
  • Silvia González Pérez of Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja in Ecuador for research in theoretical and computational chemistry (Latin America and the Caribbean Region);
  • Dawn Iona Fox of the University of Guyana, for her work in environmental and material chemistry (Latin America and the Caribbean Region); and
  • Witri Wahyu Lestari of the Universitas Sebelas Maret in Surakarta, Central Java, Indonesia, for her research in organometallic and co-ordination chemistry (East and South-East Asia and the Pacific Region).

“These scientists are living proof that, if given the opportunities and support, women all over the developing world can become leaders in their field," said Jennifer Thomson, president of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD). "I salute them all and commend them for their commitment to their fields of study and to the improvement of the lives of men, women and children in their communities. They serve as role models for all young girls and women aspiring to achieve success in their fields."

“From tsunami simulation to improving energy efficiency and the quality of drinking water, these scientists are actively tackling some of the biggest challenges facing their communities,” added Ylann Schemm, director of the Elsevier Foundation. “The Elsevier Foundation is proud to partner with OWSD and AAAS in celebrating the successes of these women, persevering in the face of often acute resource and gender-related challenges.”

The awards ceremony was held Saturday 17 February during the Minority and Women Scientists and Engineers Networking Breakfast at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The 2018 prizes were awarded in the physical sciences, including chemistry, mathematics and physics.

The awards are part of a seven-year partnership between OWSD and the Elsevier Foundation. OWSD chairs a panel of distinguished scientists to select the winners, and the Elsevier Foundation supports a cash prize for each winner of USD $5,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the AAAS meeting.

More about the 2018 winners:

  • Hasibun Naher (Bangladesh) won for her work in nonlinear partial differential equations. Naher’s significant academic contributions to this field have included her most recent work on tsunami simulation and her research on travelling waves. “This prestigious award makes me more confident that I will reach my goals, by doing research in various fields in collaboration with international scientists and researchers from developed countries,” said Naher. “Since my childhood I have always thought about how to motivate female students in STEM to help them have prosperous lives in developing countries. I hope this award helps me to fulfil my dream.”
  • Germaine Djuidje Kenmoe (Cameroon) was honoured for her work on mechanics and the study of friction-and-wear processes on the molecular level, which has the potential for important applications in energy efficiency. “Receiving the OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Award means that my research has an impact in the international scientific community,” said Kenmoe. “It will also help me to inspire younger girls to take up a career in physics.”
  • Silvia González Pérez (Ecuador) was honoured for her research on heterogeneous catalysis in metal, bimetals, nanotubes and oxides. González Pérez performs molecular modelling of potential new materials that can be synthesized or purified from natural products. “Receiving the OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Award is very important for the advancement of science in Ecuador,” said González Pérez. “Scientific work is hard in all places around the world, but even more so in countries in development. I hope this award gives confidence to Ecuadorian scientists, especially the youngest ones.”
  • Dawn Iona Fox (Guyana) was recognised for her research on converting local waste products into value-added materials to solve environmental problems. Fox’s work has significant potential for national and regional impacts in the areas of environmental remediation and public health. Her current work is focused on improving drinking water quality at the household level for vulnerable communities and on "water-stress" events such as floods, storms and hurricanes. “Winning the 2018 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Award for Early-Career Women Scientists is both a validation and an encouragement to continue my work on using locally available and natural materials to create sustainable water treatment technology,” said Fox. “It also gives me the confidence to continue my advocacy and outreach to encourage girls and women to consider STEM careers.”
  • Witri Wahyu Lestari (Indonesia) won for her research on the synthesis of Metal-Organic Frameworks whose structures have widespread potential applications in areas such as molecular magnets, gas separation and storage, selective drug synthesis and delivery and environmental protection. “As a chemist, the award from OWSD and the Elsevier Foundation is like an additional catalyst for me to be more productive in work, conducting research, educating and inspiring my students,” said Lestari. “Providing benefits to society and humanity are also main goals for me.”



About OWSD

The Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) provides research training, career development and networking opportunities for women scientists throughout the developing world. Headed by eminent women scientists from the South, OWSD has more than 6,000 members and runs various programmes, including a PhD fellowship programme with over 200 successful graduates from Least Developed Countries and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as an Early-Career Women Scientists fellowship programme launched in December 2017. OWSD is the first international forum to unite women scientists from the developing world with the objective of strengthening their role in the development process and promoting their representation in scientific and technological leadership. OWSD is affiliated with The World Academy of Science (TWAS), a programme unit of UNESCO, and is based in Trieste, Italy, with national chapters throughout the developing world. [Learn more:]

About The Elsevier Foundation

The Elsevier Foundation provides grants to knowledge centred institutions around the world, with a sustainability focus on innovations in health information, diversity in STM, research in developing countries and technology for development. Since 2006, the Foundation has awarded more than 100 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. The Elsevier Foundation is a corporate not-for-profit 501(c)(3), funded by Elsevier, a global information analytics business. [Learn more:]

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps institutions and professionals progress science, advance healthcare and improve performance for the benefit of humanity. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, Scival, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, more than 35,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray’s Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a global provider of information and analytics for professionals and business customers across industries. [Learn more:]