L’Oréal For Women in Science Fellowship applications now open; Prof Ingrid Scheffer in Paris; Last year’s Fellows rising through the ranks

L’Oréal bulletins

This is an occasional bulletin about L’Oréal’s For Women in Science program.

Applications for the 2012 L’Oréal Australia & New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowships are now open

Nominations are open for the 2012 L’Oréal Australia & New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowships.

Each year since 2007, L’Oréal Australia has offered three Fellowships to help early-career women scientists consolidate their careers and rise to leadership positions in science.

This year the three Fellowships increase in value to AUD$25,000 each and for the first time they are open to New Zealanders.

If you know any eligible, high-achieving women scientists, please encourage them to apply.

We are looking in Australia and across the Tasman for women of a similar calibre to our 2011 winners:

  • A smarter way to deliver drugs: Georgina Such, University of Melbourne, is inventing a smarter way to deliver drugs—a miniscule capsule designed like a set of Russian babushka dolls that sneaks through the blood stream to target cancer cells and nothing else.
  • Can we save the tiger with mathematics: Eve McDonald-Madden, University of Queensland/CSIRO, is using mathematics and artificial intelligence to develop systems that allow us to make tough conservation decisions with limited information.
  • The complex life of coral: Tracy Ainsworth, James Cook University, Townsville is changing our understanding of the life of the tiny coral animals that built Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef—now threatened by a warming ocean and by bleaching.

The one-year Fellowships can be used to help finance the scientific research of the Fellows, including equipment, reagents, consumables, travel expenses and conferences. The Fellowship may also be used for child care or hiring a research assistant to cover maternity leave.

To get a sense of the qualities expected of entrants into this highly competitive Fellowship, we encourage potential applicants to read the brief profiles of past recipients http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/loreal/fellows.

All the information on how to apply is online at http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/loreal/applications.

Applications close at midnight on Tuesday 1 May 2012 and will only be accepted via the online form.

The L’Oréal For Women in Science Fellowships are supported by the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian National Commission for UNESCO.

International Laureates receive awards in Paris ceremony

Professor Ingrid Scheffer was in Paris recently to receive her award as the Asia-Pacific L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureate for 2012.

She is one of five international winners who received US$100,000 in recognition of their contribution to the advancement of science at the Awards Ceremony on 29 March 2012 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

Her work has transformed our understanding of epilepsy. Twenty years ago we thought that epilepsy was largely attributed to injuries, tumours – anything but genes. Now, thanks to Professor Scheffer’s body of work we know that genes play a large role. And that’s opened the way to better diagnosis, treatment, counselling, and potential cures.

There’s more information about Ingrid’s work, and past fellows, online here.

The other four Laureates are:

  • Africa & the Arab States: Jill Farrant, for discovering how plants survive under dry conditions.
  • Europe: Frances Ashcroft, for advancing our understanding of insulin secretion and of neonatal diabetes.
  • Latin America: Susana Lopez, for identifying how rotaviruses cause the death of 600,000 children each year.
  • North America: Bonnie Bassler, for understanding the chemical communication between bacteria and opening new doors for treating infections.

They were chosen from nominations made by a network of more than 1000 members of the international scientific community. A jury of 16 eminent scientists led by Professor Ahmed Zewail, recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, selected the final winners from the shortlisted applicants.

There’s more information about Professor Ingrid Scheffer here.

For more general program information from L’Oréal, head to: www.forwomeninscience.com.

Australian Fellows update

Eve McDonald-Madden is in France, working with researchers at the National Institute for Agricultural Research to develop new strategies for the management of the impacts of climate change.

Thanks to her Fellowship, she’s able to have her son in childcare for four days a week, which has allowed her to take on leadership roles at the ARC Centre for Excellence for Environmental Decisions and the National Environmental Research Program (NERP) Environmental Decisions Hub. As a Chief Investigator, she has been mentoring new researchers and students and working behind the scenes to keep things running.

Eve was also co-organiser of a special symposium on adaptive management and climate change at the International Congress on Conservation Biology in Auckland last December. She hopes to present a paper on managing the unexpected consequences of climate change on biodiversity at conferences in New York and Melbourne. And she’s waiting to hear back on an ARC Discovery Grant for the next phase of her research – to simplify decision-making in biodiversity management.

Georgina Such  has taken on two research students supported by her Fellowship. They’re helping her to understand how nano-engineered capsules carrying drugs and genes can be directed to the right part of a cell. Georgina is working to design a capsule which can travel within cells more easily. She has also designed a quicker method for constructing the capsules.

The fellowship has allowed Georgina to spend more time in the lab. She’s used part of the funds to have her daughter in childcare for an extra day per week. The University of Melbourne has also supported her through their three-year Women in Research Fellowship.

Late last year Georgina was featured in The Age’s annual list of the top 100 most influential, creative and inspirational Melburnians. She was invited to speak at Bio21’s Nano-in-Medicine workshops, and the Nanomedicine 2012 conference.

Tracy Ainsworth has been diving on the Great Barrier Reef and in the Coral Sea, conducting a survey of diversity in coral. She’s been looking at coral in the mesophotic – or twilight – zone up to 100 metres underwater, where there’s very little light from the surface. She’s collected more than 400 samples from 250 different species of coral. But her work now will focus on one species, Acropora granulosa, and she’ll be looking at how this coral lives in symbiosis with bacterial communities.

Tracy has also been awarded a $20,000 grant by the Ian Potter Foundation and a $20,000 Queensland International Fellowship which will allow her to travel to America to conduct further research on coral-microbe symbiosis and to learn more about bioinformatics. She’s published three papers on her recent research.

Other news for Women in Science

WiSE Social Group

2008 Fellow Amanda Barnard has set up an informal social group for Women in Science and Engineering.

It’s set up via a website and app called Meetup, that allows members to browse upcoming group events and RSVP from their computer, iPad or phone.

They’ve had about four meet-ups so far (all highly rated by members) and there’s two more coming up over the next month.  Three of the past meet-ups were brunch/drinks activities, and one was the AAS “In Conversation” lecture with Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt.

You can view and join the group online here http://www.meetup.com/Women-in-Science-Engineering/.

There will be at least one get-together posted each month, but members can suggest new ones anytime.

If you know of any other female scientists, engineers or mathematicians in Melbourne who may be interested, please feel free to send them this link too.
Women in Science Parliamentary Friendship Group

Kelly O’Dwyer, Federal member for Higgins and Amanda Rishworth, Federal Member for Kingston, have set up a woman in science parliamentary friendship group.

The first event, a cocktail reception, will take place on Wednesday 20 June from 5pm-7pm in the Mural Hall at Parliament House.

2008 Laureate of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards, and Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn will be the keynote speaker.

Penny Sackett, Cathy Foley and Suzanne Cory are supporting the group. I’ll have more information in the next month or so.