13th Annual L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards - 2011

© UNESCO / Michel Ravassard

© UNESCO / Michel Ravassard

Each year, five outstanding women scientists – one per continent – are honoured for the contributions of their research, the strength of their commitments and their impact on society. With the Marie Curie Nobel Centenary being celebrated in 2011, this year the For Women in Science Programme has a particularly strong resonance, placing women and chemistry at the heart of science today.

More than 1,000 high-level scientists from around the world were involved in the nomination of the Awards’ candidates, who come from five continents. The International Awards Jury, comprised of 16 eminent members of the scientific community, and presided by Professor Ahmed Zewail, recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, then selected the five women researchers in the Physical Sciences as the Laureates of the 2011 Awards. Their pioneering projects contribute to finding solutions to major challenges for our planet.

Professor Zewail declared, “It is a great pleasure for me to chair this jury and to promote this programme, which is of major international importance. The women scientists from all over the world who are receiving the L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards make it possible for us to hope for a better future.”


Professor Faiza AL-KHARAFI © V. Durruty & P. Guedj for the L'Oréal Corporation Foundation

Professor Faiza AL-KHARAFI

Professor of Chemistry, Kuwait University, Safat, KUWAIT
For her work on corrosion, a problem of fundamental importance to water treatment and the oil industry.

Born in Kuwait, Faiza Al-Kharafi earned a BSc degree from Am Shams University in Egypt before returning to Kuwait to pursue her MSc and PhD degrees from Kuwait University. She has filled in a number of teaching and research positions at the Kuwait University, including serving as the first female president of the university from 1993 to 2002. The first Kuwait-France Chemistry Symposium was held under her patronage in 2009, and she is currently Vice-President of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World.

Professor Vivian Wing-Wah YAM, © V. Durruty & P. Guedj for the L'Oréal Corporation Foundation

Professor Vivian Wing-Wah YAM
Professor of Chemistry and Energy, The University of Hong Kong, CHINA
For her work on light-emitting materials and innovative ways of capturing solar energy.

Vivian Wing-Wah Yam was born in Hong Kong, where she pursued her university studies, obtaining her PhD at the University of Hong Kong. After two years at the City Polytechnic of Hong Kong, she moved to the University of Hong Kong in 1990 where she became Chair Professor in 1999. She was Head of Chemistry for 6 years from 2000 to 2005, and became the Philip Wong Wilson Wong Professor in Chemistry and Energy in 2009 at the University of Hong Kong. She is an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, and has been awarded a Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) Centenary lectureship and medal.


Professor Anne L’HUILLIER © V. Durruty & P. Guedj for the L'Oréal Corporation Foundation

Professor Anne L’HUILLIER
Professor of Atomic Physics, Lund University, SWEDEN
For her work on the development of the fastest camera for recording events in attoseconds (a billionth of a billionth of a second).

Anne L’Huillier obtained her PhD in Physical Sciences in France, the country of her birth, at the Université de Paris VI. After postdoctoral research in Sweden and the United States, she spent the years 1986-1995 as a researcher at the French Atomic Energy Commission. She then transferred to Lund Unversity, where she has been Professor Atomic Physics since 1997. She has received numerous awards, is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Professor Silvia TORRES-PEIMBERT, © V. Durruty & P. Guedj for the L'Oréal Corporation Foundation

Professor Silvia TORRES-PEIMBERT
Professor Emeritus, Institute of Astronomy, Mexico City University (UNAM), Mexico City, MEXICO
For her work on the chemical composition of nebulae which is fundamental to our understanding of the origin of the universe.

A native of Mexico, Silvia Torres-Peimbert obtained her PhD at the University of California Berkeley, USA. She then became Professor in the Faculty of Sciences and the Institute of Astronomy at UNAM. Today she is Emeritus Professor and since 2009 has been Coordinator of Physical, Mathematical and Engineering Sciences at the university. She is a member of the American Astronomical Society, the Academy of Sciences of the Developing World, and is a past Vice-President of the International Astronomical Union.

Professor Jillian BANFIELD, © V. Durruty & P. Guedj for the L'Oréal Corporation Foundation

Professor Jillian BANFIELD
Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, and of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, UNITED STATES
For her work on bacterial and material behaviour under extreme conditions relevant to the environment and the Earth.

Originally from Australia, Jillian Banfield received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Geology from the Australian National University. She subsequently completed a PhD in Earth and Planetary Science at Johns Hopkins University, USA. From 1990-2001 she was a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since then she has been a professor at the University of California-Berkeley and an affiliate scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She has been honored with numerous prestigious awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship, The Dana Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America, and a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. She was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2006.


All photos © V. Durruty & P. Guedj for the L'Oréal Corporation Foundation

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