(From left: 2019 winners with H.E. Mr Aurélien Lechevallier, Professor Martiale Zabaze-Kana (UNESCO), Chelsea Tucker, Yogandree Ramsamy, Busiswa Ndaba, Melissa Nel, Sinenhlanhla Sikhosana, Gilles Antoine (L’Oréal South Africa), Shantelle Claassen and Dr Phil Mjwara (Department of Science & Innovation) Photo: Supplied

DURBAN - The first edition of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science South African National Programme, highlights L'Oréal’s strong commitment to South African female scientists and its ambition to contribute to the development of scientific excellence.

The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science initiative began 21 years ago and has supported and raised the profile of 107 laureates and more than 3100 talented young doctoral and post-doctoral scientists, providing research grants in 117 countries. 

The sub-Saharan Africa regional programme saw significant growth since it’s inception in 2010. With the vision of reaching more female scientists across Africa,  the first edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science South African National Young Talents programme was launched, this year.

"Today, there are simply not enough women scientists in Africa to drive change at the scale at which it is needed.  Science and technology are among the principle keys to addressing these challenges. It is vital that women and men are empowered to contribute fully and equally to the development of solutions, foster innovation and enrich locally relevant research," said Gilles Antoine, Country Manager of L’Oreal South Africa.

"The world continues to face unprecedented challenges such as climate change, water scarcity, exposure to illnesses and challenges with food security, among other issues. Women in science can change the world. They have the power to change the world provided they are given the means. This year, as we honour seven emerging women scientists from across South Africa, we reaffirm our commitment to empowering more young women scientists, so that they receive the recognition they deserve," concluded Antoine.

An exceptional initiative to empower seven young South African researchers

The seven female researchers  – five doctoral and two post-doctoral – were selected for the scientific excellence of their work from over 175  applicants, by a jury of independent experts.

The winners will travel to Dakar, Senegal to attend the sub-Saharan Africa regional programme leadership training and ceremony. The researchers will benefit from a training programme that will help strengthen their career. The objective is to empower them to pursue their career and break the glass ceiling more easily.

These female researchers were awarded a research grant at a ceremony in Johannesburg last night in front of a distinguished audience. 

The winners 

PhD candidates

Each PhD candidate will receive a research grant of R80 000  

Dr Yogandree Ramsamy

Department of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal 

Triangulating the Molecular Epidemiology of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae from Humans, Food, Animals and the Environment

Shantelle Claassen

Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town 

Nasopharyngeal bacterial community profiles as a biomarker for Lower Respiratory Tract Infections (LRTI) during infancy

Chelsea Tucker

Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town

Designing a catalyst with improved fuel selectivity for decentralized waste-to-fuel production in Africa 

Emma Platts

Department of Mathematics & Applied Mathematics, University of Cape Town

Machine Learning and Data Clustering Techniques to Probe Fast Radio Bursts and Constrain Cosmological Parameter

Sinenhlanhla Sikhosana

College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Diffuse Radio Emission in Atacama Cosmology Telescope's polarimetric extension Clusters

Post-Doctoral Researchers 

Each post-doctoral award winner will receive a research grant of R160 000 

Dr Melissa Nel

Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town 

Investigating the genetic basis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in subjects of African genetic ancestry

Dr Busiswa Ndaba 

Institute for Soil, Climate and Water, Agricultural Research Council 

Sustainable production and application of nanofertilizers through the adoption of biosynthesis approach