NEW YORK, Sept. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today five of America's most promising post-doctoral female scientists received the L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women In Science Award. This national awards program was created in 2003 to support the advancement of women in science and rewards the most promising post-doctoral female scientists from across the country. This year's awards presentation ceremony was held at the Kennedy Caucus Room in Washington, D.C. The program featured speeches from key congressional supporters of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). These include, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ).
The 2011 Fellowship recipients are working on breakthrough scientific research, which address critical global challenges that could aid millions around the world. Their research fields include stroke rehabilitation, therapeutic prevention for Alzheimer's, robotics that will improve prosthetic fittings and function, LEDs and colored light creation, and the spread of influenza and other viruses. Each Fellow will receive up to $60,000 to continue their post-doctoral research. Additionally, the L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women in Science offers professional development workshops for awardees and helps these Fellows build networks with accomplished female leaders in corporate, academic, governmental and scientific fields. The program is facilitated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
L'Oreal USA's passion and commitment to science was validated by a nationwide survey conducted earlier this month. The results of this survey show that Americans support the program's goal of encouraging women to pursue careers in scientific fields. The survey asked about the public's overall interest in the field of science and specifically their thoughts on the presence of women, and contributions from women, to science. Survey respondents included male and females over 18 years of age and revealed:
- 'Science' is the field that most people (42%) want to see women take a more dominant role in, even more so than 'Finance' (25%) or 'Law' (22%).
- 'Inventor' is the top dream job (25%), followed by 'Stay-at-home Parent' (20%)
- 'Scientist' (17%) and 'Doctor' (15%) came in third and fourth respectively for dream job.
- 'Reality TV Star' came in last for dream job (3%). Despite seeing how reality television megastars of today seem to be universally adored, people would rather have the job of the American President (4%), one of the most stressful jobs in the world, over that of a reality TV star.
- Most people are concerned with inventing something to combat 'Disease' (25%) over other issues.
- 'None of the above' came in second highest (28%) when given a list of items and asked to choose which were invented by women. Half of the listed items provided were invented by women including the dishwasher, disposable diaper, refrigerator and circular saw.
This year's fellowship grant recipients embody the survey's findings, including a desire for more women in the sciences. Although the future of women contributing to science seems to be expanding, the history of the many contributions already made by women to science must be shared and taught; women in science is far from new, it is just now growing at a pace unseen before.
The 2011 L'Oreal USA Fellowship grants will support the following female scientists and their work:
Dr. Trisha Andrew, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA – organic chemist in the field of organic electronics. During college, Dr. Andrew realized that she loved Organic Chemistry, both for the everyday routine of a synthetic organic chemist and for the ability to logically explain natural phenomena based on the chemical reactivity of molecules. The L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women In Science award will help Dr. Andrew investigate the interaction of organic chromophores with interesting optoelectronic materials known as "quantum dots" and fabricate unique light-emitting diodes and solar cells from these composite materials.
Dr. Karlin Bark, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA – mechanical engineer in the field of haptics. The L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women In Science award will allow Dr. Bark to study the potential use of haptic feedback in stroke rehabilitation. She will work alongside clinical specialists at the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute to develop, refine, and test an affordable upper-limb rehabilitation system that can be used in clinics and homes to assist stroke survivors in retraining the motor pathways needed to complete everyday tasks. Additionally, athletic coaches, dance trainers, and motor skill education specialists could adopt this technology to help teach proper motions and skills with the aim of achieving better technique and preventing future injuries.
Dr. Sasha Devore, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY – neuroscientist examining health sciences and technology. With the support of the L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women In Science award, Dr. Devore will employ techniques for selectively activating and recording from large ensembles of neurons in behaving animals in order to study the function of feedback pathways in sensory processing. Numerous neurological diseases and disorders are linked with dysfunction in the brain's feedback pathways and are typically accompanied by impairments in sensory processing. Dr. Devore hopes that her experiments will lead to improved therapeutic interventions, in addition to providing important insight into the regulation of information processing in the brain.
Dr. Tijana Ivanovic, Harvard Medical School, with work to be carried out at the University of Colorado at Boulder – virologist in the research field of virus entry into cells. The L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women In Science award will enable Dr. Ivanovic to build a custom Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) microscope and use it to study the fusion mechanism of the influenza virus by visualizing the fusion process of individual virus particles in real time. The Fellowship will also fund additional equipment and reagents necessary to carry out experiments designed to address questions about fusion protein cooperativity during influenza membrane fusion.
Dr. R. Blythe Towal, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA – biomedical engineer in the field of computational neuroscience. With the support of the L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women In Science award, Dr. Towal will design and build novel instruments to measure human eye movements during normal, active-sensing behavior as opposed to the highly artificial conditions of the laboratory. These instruments will enable her to measure where people look and determine how the properties of the environment are combined with the goals of the person to allow them to perceive their surroundings and select appropriate actions under natural conditions. Dr. Towal hopes that these experiments will lead not only to improved robotic technologies but also to a deeper understanding of information processing in the nervous system.
The 2011 L'Oreal USA Fellows were selected from a competitive pool of candidates by a Review Panel and Jury of distinguished career scientists. During the past seven years, L'Oreal USA has recognized and rewarded career contributions of 40 young postdoctoral women researchers in the life and physical/materials sciences, awarding more than $1 million in Fellowship grants. The L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women In Science is a national extension of the global L'Oreal – UNESCO For Women In Science program which, since 1998, has recognized 67 Laureates, two of whom received the Nobel Prize in 2009. The program has also awarded 864 International Fellowships which have been granted to young women scientists from 93 countries so that they can continue their research projects. The program has become a benchmark of scientific excellence on an international scale, revealing the contributions of these scientific women each year.
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The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science (www.sciencemag.org) as well as Science Translational Medicine (www.sciencetranslationalmedicine.org) and Science Signaling (www.sciencesignaling.org). AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.
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