03.04.2012 - UNESCO Office in Venice/L'ORÉAL-UNESCO for Women in Science

Responsible science through women and future generations

©Nicolas Gouhier/Abaca Press pour la Fondation d’Entreprise L'ORÉAL

Samia Elfékih, awarded the 2011 UNESCO-L'ORÉAL International Fellowship for Young Women in Life Sciences for her work in Molecular Biology, is participating in the Workshop on "Higher Education and Professional Responsibility in CBRN Applied Sciences and Technology Across the Sub-Mediterranean Region” currently held in Venice. It is expected that the discussions of this international event will generate innovative thinking on the challenges related to CBRN risks with respect to how to better promote responsible science through women and future generations. Samia Elfékih will be interviewed together with Rashika El Ridi (L'ORÉAL-UNESCO for Women in Science 2010 Laureate for Africa and the Arab States) and Habiba Bouhamed Chaabouni (2006 Laureate for Africa).

Each year since 2000, as part of the L'ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science Partnership, 15 UNESCO-L'ORÉAL International Fellowships are allocated to young women researchers in the life sciences, at the doctoral or post-doctoral level, whose research projects have been accepted by a reputable institution outside their home country. These Fellowships support and encourage promising research in the life sciences, helping the beneficiaries, who have already distinguished themselves by their talent and commitment, to continue to pursue their scientific careers.

Samia Elfékih has a PhD in biology from the University of Tunis ElManar. Her research focuses on the genetic diversity of insect populations around the Mediterranean basin and the use of essential oils from plants in the biological control of insect pests. She is particularly concerned about the possible effects of climate change on invasive insect species in countries in the Mediterranean basin. As the climate gradually warms, there is a risk that insects such as the medfly, Ceratitis capitata, will further expand their geographical range. In Tunisia this insect is already responsible for severe economic losses in fruit production and shows widespread resistance to several organophosphorus pesticides developed in the 1970s.

During her fellowship, Samia Elfékih will study the genetic mechanisms of insecticide resistance in medfly to better understand how resistance originates and how mutant genes coding for resistance have spread geographically and across diverse environmental conditions.  At the end of her fellowship, Samia Elfékih will return to Tunisia to take up a position as associate professor. She is committed to transferring the technical skills acquired during her time in the UK and hopes to develop long-standing research collaboration between the two countries. She wants to promote a positive image of women leaders in research and to act as an ambassador for women in science and technology in Tunisia. 

Source : UNESCO- L'ORÉAL Palmares of the Year Laureates 2011

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