L’Oréal USA today announced the recipients of the 2019 For Women in Science (FWIS) Fellowship, which annually awards five female postdoctoral scientists grants of $60,000 each to advance their research. This is the 16th year of the program, which to date has recognized 80 postdoctoral female scientists with over $4 million since 2003.
The For Women in Science program is rooted in L’Oréal’s core belief that the world needs science and science needs women, because women in science have the power to change the world. The program provides funding and support during a critical time in female scientists’ careers. Although the number of women in science is increasing, there remains a "leaky pipeline," with significant career drop-off happening during the years between postdoc and tenure track. In addition to grant funding, fellows receive mentorship, media training, career coaching and recognition.
The 2019 For Women in Science fellows are being honored for their important research across a wide range of fields, from neuroscience to paleoceanography:
Aparna Bhaduri, whose research in neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco focuses on understanding the different cell types that make up the human brain and how specific cell types are targeted in glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, as well as a range of neurodegenerative diseases.
Laurie Bizimana, whose research in biomedical engineering at Cornell University is working toward developing an innovative, non-invasive technique for harnessing signals from the brain, with the goal of restoring functions lost due to neurological disorders, comas, paralysis and even loss of limbs.
Samantha Bova, whose research in paleoceanography at Rutgers University studies past changes to Earth’s climate in order to improve our current knowledge of how Earth will respond to future climate perturbations.
Lisa Poulikakos, whose research in materials science and engineering at Stanford University is focused on advancing technology that can enable on-the-spot, accurate and cost-effective diagnosis of tissue biopsies, including breast cancer and other serious diseases.
Christine Roden, whose research in RNA biology at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill seeks to understand how disrupted RNA structures can result in diseases like ALS or cancer, with the potential to improve treatments for these types of diseases.
“The meaningful scientific progress being made by this inspiring group of researchers reminds us how important it is to promote female representation in STEM fields,” said Frédéric Rozé, Executive Vice President, L’Oréal Americas. “We are proud to help support the staying power of scientists who are not only changing the world through their work, but are serving as role models for the next generation of women.”
“The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship grant gave me time to complete new research projects and publish additional papers, both critical to pursuing an academic position,” said Dr. Jaime Barnes, Associate Professor of Geological Sciences in the University of Texas at Austin School of Geosciences and 2007 FWIS fellow. “Because of this fellowship, my research and funding profile were strengthened, making me a more competitive candidate and ultimately helping me secure a tenure-track position at a top academic institution.”
L’Oréal USA will recognize the 2019 fellows at an awards ceremony hosted by CBS Evening News Anchor and Managing Editor Norah O'Donnell at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C on Thursday, November 7th.
The ceremony serves as a capstone to a week of dedicated programming for the For Women in Science fellows; earlier events in Washington, D.C, include:
- A convening hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine to discuss the keys to "staying power" for women in science, followed by a series of panel discussions on best practices for retaining women in STEM careers
- A roundtable discussion at the National Academies featuring high-level leaders in STEM at the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and with distinguished members of the National Academies.
- An afternoon dedicated to STEM career discovery and mentorship with the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History's Youth Engagement through Science (YES!) Internship program
- A visit to Capitol Hill for a discussion with leading Congressional staff on science policy and careers
The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science program is the U.S. component of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Awards, a global program created in 1998 that recognizes and rewards women scientists around the world. Through the international program and the nearly 50 national and regional programs—which includes the For Women in Science program—more than 3,100 female scientists from more than 110 countries have received fellowships to pursue promising research projects.
The 2019 For Women in Science fellowship candidates were evaluated based on their intellectual merit, research potential, scientific excellence and their commitment to supporting women and girls in science. The L’Oréal USA fellowship program includes a requirement to ensure recipients are committed to serving as role models for younger generations. Applications were reviewed by experienced scientists in the candidates' respective fields through a partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which manages the application process.
The 2019 L’Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellows' Biographies:
Aparna Bhaduri, Neuroscientist, University of California, San Francisco
Aparna Bhaduri is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research focuses on understanding the different cell types that make up the human brain and how specific cell types are targeted in disease. This research will provide important insights into glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, as well as a range of neurodegenerative diseases. The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship will provide Bhaduri funding to further her research with advanced single-cell sequencing technology as well as support a symposium for high school girls that she and colleagues are organizing. Bhaduri, 31, received a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at Stanford University and a B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology/B.A. in Political Science at Rice University. Originally from Milwaukee, Bhaduri loves living in the Bay Area with her husband where they enjoy biking, rock climbing and exploring new restaurants.
Laurie Bizimana, Biomedical Engineer, Cornell University
Laurie Bizimana is a postdoctoral fellow in Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. Bizimana is developing an innovative non-invasive technique for detecting and decoding brain activity that will improve brain-machine interface (BMI) technology. With the advancement of BMIs, scientists will be able to harness signals from the brain to restore functions lost due to neurological disorders, comas, paralysis and even loss of limbs. The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship will provide Bizimana the funding to hire a research technician, greatly increasing the amount of time she can dedicate to the instrumentation and analysis of her laboratory work. As a self-titled “mom-scientist,” Bizimana plans to use her platform as a FWIS fellow to advocate for and be a positive example to women who are considering motherhood alongside a scientific career. Bizimana, 30, received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from New York University and a B.A. in Chemistry from Drew University. Originally from New Jersey, Bizimana lives in Ithaca with her husband and young son.
Samantha Bova, Paleoceanographer, Rutgers University
Samantha Bova is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Marine and Coastal Sciences Department at Rutgers University. As a paleoceanographer, Bova analyzes sediment from the ocean floor in order to understand past changes in Earth’s climate. In July 2019, Bova led a team of 33 scientists on a month-long ocean expedition to study the response of the Patagonian icefields to abrupt climate change and sustained periods of warmer than usual temperatures. This research will improve current understanding of how Earth will respond to future climate perturbations. The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship will provide Bova with funding for laboratory analyses and student lab assistance, allowing her to produce higher-resolution records of climate and icefield variability. As part of her fellowship, Bova will continue her outreach and mentorship work within the Rutgers community, at local elementary schools and liberal arts institutions, inspiring girls to consider careers in oceanography. Bova, 31, received a Ph.D. in Earth, Environmental and Planetary Science as well as an M.S. in Geological Sciences from Brown University and an A.B. in Earth and Planetary Science from Washington University in St. Louis. A native of Pennsylvania, Bova lives in Philadelphia with her partner where she enjoys hiking, rock climbing, running, soccer and yoga.
Lisa Poulikakos, Materials Scientist and Engineer, Stanford University
Lisa Poulikakos is a postdoctoral fellow in Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University. Her research focuses on developing new material platforms which can bridge engineering and medicine with the science of light. Currently, Poulikakos is developing an all-optical technology that can enable on-the-spot, accurate and cost effective diagnosis of tissue biopsies, beginning with breast cancer but with the potential to be applied to Alzheimer’s and other serious diseases. The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship will provide Poulikakos with funding to pursue this line of research including the purchase of equipment. Inspired by the opportunity to work with two female scientific leaders during her fellowship, Poulikakos will also organize an outreach event for Women in Biomedical Optics to motivate the next generation of women scientists and highlight their exceptional contributions made thus far. Poulikakos, 31, received a Ph.D., an MSc and a BSc in Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH Zurich. Born in Chicago, Poulikakos moved to Zurich when she was eight years old and returned to the U.S. for her postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford in 2018. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the Bay Area, swimming and running on Stanford’s campus, and visiting San Francisco’s art museums.
Christine Roden, RNA Biologist, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Christine Roden is a postdoctoral fellow in Biology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Roden, an RNA biologist, is studying how large cells use RNA structure to organize their content. When the organization of these contents is disrupted, it can result in diseases like ALS or cancer. By improving the understanding of how this happens, Roden’s research may ultimately lead to improved treatments for these types of diseases. The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship will provide Roden the resources to spend time learning new techniques for RNA profiling and hire an undergraduate aspiring scientist to assist her with experiments and data collection. Roden, 32, received a Ph.D. in Genetics at Yale University and a B.S. in Biology at University of Pittsburgh. Originally from Pennsylvania, Roden currently lives in Chapel Hill where she enjoys drawing, painting and spending time outdoors.