NEW YORK, May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Laurent Attal, President and CEO, L'Oreal USA, and Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone, President, National Academy of Sciences, honored the 2008 recipients of the esteemed L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women in Science at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. These women were recognized for conducting innovative and breakthrough research across a range of disciplines, including neuroscience, oceanography, and aerospace engineering. Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was also honored with the L'Oreal USA For Women in Science Role Model Award, for raising awareness of the critical role that women play in the sciences. The prestigious L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women in Science, now in their fifth year, provide support to postdoctoral women scientists who are undertaking cutting-edge research with practical applications in today's society. By researching such current pressing issues as Parkinson's disease and the reduction of fuel consumption, these Fellows represent the next generation of women scientific role models, following in the footsteps of chemist and physicist Marie Curie, and Elizabeth Blackwell, who, in 1849, became the first woman to graduate from medical school. Awardees each receive $40,000 to be used toward independent scientific research. In addition, recognizing that funding is just one of several components necessary to help women build successful careers in the sciences, the L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women in Science also offer professional development workshops for awardees, and help these Fellows build networks with accomplished women leaders in corporate, academic, governmental and scientific fields. "Women scientists are making amazing progress, forging ahead and overcoming obstacles as they dispel the gender stereotype that women are not equipped to excel in the sciences," said Laurent Attal. "L'Oreal USA is proud to help foster and recognize the success of women scientists at all levels. We believe the world needs science, and science needs women."
The 2008 L'Oreal USA Fellows are: -- Dr. Sara Aton -- University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- neuroscientist, researching how the sleeping brain consolidates learning and memory. Dr. Aton studies a key component in learning and memory: synaptic plasticity, which is the ability of a connection, or synapse, between two neurons to change in strength. She is performing the first study attempting such a large-scale recording of neurons within a synaptically-integrated network during plastic remodeling. Her findings will be a foundation for further research into understanding human development and how sleep affects cognition. -- Dr. Ania Bleszynski-Jayich -- Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut -- physicist, investigating the persistent current principle of quantum mechanics which, though predicted years ago in theory, has been challenging for scientists to test. Dr. Bleszynski-Jayich has developed an approach using new techniques: creating the extreme conditions necessary to accurately test the persistent current. She will conduct experiments testing the persistent current in normal rings using sensitive cantilevers for detection. The cantilevers sense the magnetic moment produced by the current, and Dr. Bleszynski-Jayich will both work to improve the sensitivity of the cantilever-based detector, and use it to perform systematic measurements of the persistent current. -- Dr. Laura Lapham -- Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida -- chemical oceanographer, conducting research that may lead to new discoveries around the use of methane hydrates as a potential energy source. Dr. Lapham is working to determine how much methane is entrained as a hydrate, how stable these reservoirs are and how to harvest these deposits for fuel. The primary focus of her research is the development of instrumentation to regularly measure methane that has dissolved in sediments around the hydrates over time, which will allow researchers to better understand the role of hydrates in an abrupt climate change situation. -- Dr. Sridevi Vedula Sarma -- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts -- computational neuroscientist, using technology to improve the deep brain stimulation (DBS) technique to treat Parkinson's disease. Dr. Sarma is employing engineering principles to automate the post-operative calibration process of DBS. Creating such an automated system would relieve patients of frequent physician visits, significantly cut medical costs and allow neurologists to treat more DBS patients. Concurrently, Dr. Sarma is developing a new dynamic feedback stimulation paradigm that will allow for low-powered DBS signals to be administered, eliminating the need for frequent battery replacement surgeries for patients. -- Dr. Sandra Ugrina -- University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland -- aerospace engineer, developing innovative techniques that help to improve the aerodynamic efficiency of materials and reduce fuel consumption. Dr. Ugrina studies active flow control, which involves the application of techniques to improve fluid quality control over an aerodynamic surface, such as an airplane wing. She is working to design smart material actuators that respond dynamically to external conditions and extend regions of laminar flow, or undisturbed fluid flow, over aerodynamic surfaces. Dr. Ugrina will implement control schemes using a fully integrated system design, helping to reduce drag and energy consumption, while increasing aerodynamic efficiency and reducing noise. The Fellows were selected from a competitive pool of candidates by a jury of nine eminent scientists presided over by Dr. Cicerone. These Fellows have earned some of the highest honors in their fields and have been published in respected peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Neuroscience; Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems; and the AIAA Journal. "The L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women in Science program is vital for supporting women scientists at the postdoctoral level, and for retaining women in the sciences," said Dr. Cicerone. "We must engage the many intelligent young minds in our field. A diverse scientific community produces more cutting-edge research, which is essential to solving some of the world's most complex problems." The awards ceremony was preceded by a panel discussion, which included Dr. Jackson; Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology, University of California, San Francisco and 2008 L'OREAL-UNESCO For Women in Science North American Laureate; Helen Greiner, Co-Founder and Chairman, iRobot Corporation; Danica McKellar, accomplished actress, mathematician and author; and Isha Himani Jain, 2008 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology individual award winner. The panel was moderated by Dr. Emily Senay, Assistant Professor, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The panel focused on dispelling the gender myths that undermine women's potential in the sciences. Panelists discussed how they overcame challenges to achieve successful careers in their fields. ABOUT THE L'OREAL USA FELLOWSHIPS FOR WOMEN IN SCIENCE The L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women in Science program is designed to recognize, reward and advance the role of women in scientific research. Each year, this annual awards program honors five American women at the beginning of their scientific careers. Recipients receive $40,000 each toward independent scientific research. Launched in 2003 as the U.S. component of the UNESCO-L'OREAL International Fellowships program, the program aims to raise awareness of the contribution of women to the sciences, and to identify exceptional female researchers to serve as role models for young women and girls. Since the L'OREAL-UNESCO For Women in Science international program's inception in 1998, 52 Laureates and 120 International Fellows have been recognized from around the world. National Fellowship programs have also been established in 35 countries and have awarded fellowship grants to more than 340 young women researchers. ABOUT L'OREAL L'Oreal is a worldwide leader in the cosmetics industry, developing innovative products to meet the diverse needs of customers in 130 countries worldwide. Over 3,000 people work in the Group's 16 research centers, located on three continents. Their findings are responsible for the registration of hundreds of patents annually. L'Oreal also devotes over 3% of sales annually to research and development -- an investment unmatched anywhere else in the industry. Women represent 55% of L'Oreal's research and development workforce. For more information, please visit: http://www.loreal.com
SOURCE L'Oreal USA