Nominations, Fellows Update and WiSE Summit

Fresh Science, L’Oréal bulletins, Women in Science

March Bulletin

  • Applications for Australian Fellowships for 2011 open on 1 April 2011.
  • Finding life everywhere: expatriate Australian Professor Jillian Banfield among the five Laureates announced for 2011
  • 2010 Australian Fellows report on their progress to date
  • What do the Fellowships mean to you?
  • Women in Science and Engineering Summit

Applications for 2011 L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowships to open

Applications for the 2011 L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowships will open on 1 April 2011 and close on 2 May 2011. L’Oréal Australia will offer three fellowships in 2011 valued at $20,000 each.
As in previous years, all applicants will complete an online application. Applicants will not have to collect references. Instead, we will contact only the referees of shortlisted applicants and seek closed references.

Shortlisted applicants will be notified by email in mid-May and will have two weeks to send in supporting materials. The judges will make their final decision by mid-July.

The award ceremony will be on 23 August in Melbourne and the Girls in Science forum will be on 24 August.
More information including the criteria for eligibility and sample application forms is available at

International Laureates receive awards in Paris ceremony

US-based Australian Professor Jillian Banfield was one of the five winners of the 2011 L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards to receive her $US100,000 prize in a ceremony in Paris on 3 March 2011.
Banfield is Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, and of Materials Science and Engineering, at the University of California, Berkeley, United States. She won for her work on bacterial and material behaviour under extreme conditions relevant to the environment and the Earth.

Her citation says:
Professor Jillian Banfield has specialised in the association of minerals and microscopic forms of life, two areas of science that at first glance appear to have little in common.

From her unique vantage point at the interface of these fields, she has revealed rich secrets about their fundamental interactions. She has even proven that microorganisms have the capacity to influence large-scale geological processes like erosion, and to construct unique materials from molecular building blocks.
Banfield studies the interactions among microbes in extreme physical environments, such as highly acidic mines in California that have been declared Superfund hazard sites. She has shown how microbes have adapted to these extreme conditions, using metal sulfide ores as sources of energy.

She and her students also have used cutting-edge techniques to sequence the genomes of the different species of bacteria and primitive microbes called Archaea within this community and to catalogue the proteins they produce, fully characterising this unique microbial ecosystem.
Her work has improved the understanding of how life survives in the most unlikely places, and could assist humans in finding the signature of life on other planets.
Banfield received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Geology from the Australian National University. She completed a PhD in Earth and Planetary Science at Johns Hopkins University in 1990, and from 1990-2001 she was a professor in the Geology, Geophysics and Materials Science Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since then, she has been a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and an affiliate scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Banfield has been honoured with numerous prestigious awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship (1999-2004), the Dana Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America (2010), and a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2000). She was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2006.

The other four Laureates are:
• Africa & the Arab States: Professor Faiza Al-Kharafi, Professor of Chemistry, Kuwait University, Safat, Kuwait, for her work on corrosion, a problem of fundamental importance to water treatment and the oil industry.

  • Asia-Pacific: Professor Vivian Wing-Wah Yam, Professor of Chemistry and Energy, The University of Hong Kong, China, for her work on light-emitting materials and innovative ways of capturing solar energy.
  • Europe: Professor Anne L’Huillier, Professor of Atomic Physics, Lund University, Sweden, for her work on the development of the fastest camera for recording events in attoseconds (a billionth of a billionth of a second).
  • Latin America: Professor Silvia Torres-Peimbert, Professor Emeritus, Institute of Astronomy, Mexico City University (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico, for her work on the chemical composition of nebulae which is fundamental to our understanding of the origin of the universe.

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.
For more L’Oréal Laureate information:

Australian Fellows update

Deanna D’Alessandro has been busy building her research group in the University of Sydney’s School of Chemistry. Her research on carbon dioxide capture materials has been bolstered by the use of some of her Fellowship funds to support a research assistant, and she hopes to make good progress on the project before spending time with her US collaborators later this year.

In late August 2010 she accepted a position as Senior Lecturer, which she has subsequently deferred until 2016 after receiving an Australian Research Council Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship for $788k over 5 years.

Additional funding has come through a large collaborative grant, worth $6 million over 5 years, awarded to 19 research groups around Australia by the CSIRO Science and Industry Endowment Fund focusing on solving the CO2 capture problem.

Deanna was one of the instigators of the collaboration and has been named deputy director of the initiative. In the mean time she has published four papers and submitted two more, given several lectures and presentations including the keynote speech at the launch event of the International Year of Chemistry, and continues to carry a substantial teaching load at the University.
Marie-Liesse Asselin-Labat has made progress in understanding the role of the transcription factor GATA-3 plays in the early development and metastasis of breast tumours and plans to submit a paper for publication in the next few months. With her appointment in January as a Group Leader in WEHI’s Stem Cells and Cancer Division, she is now shifting her focus to lung cancer stem cells and the initiation of tumours.

She recently visited a laboratory at the Netherlands Cancer Institute to learn about mouse models for lung cancer. Her breast cancer work has been presented at a recent conference in the US and to researchers in the Netherlands.
Rowena Martin has continued to build her research group at the Australian National University’s Research School of Biology. Despite a hold up in receiving her Fellowship funds she has commenced work on her project, which aims to elucidate the normal physiological role of the malaria parasite’s chloroquine resistance transporter protein using a frog egg model system, in collaboration with researchers at Princeton University.

Late in 2010 she received a substantial NH&MRC Project Grant, on which she is the sole Chief Investigator, to further support her research into the interactions between the chloroquine resistance transporter protein and anti-malarial drugs. She has published two papers and given several presentations to both scientific and general audiences. She also was awarded the 2010 ACT Young Tall Poppy Science Award.

Tell us what the L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowship Program means to Australian Science

2011 is the fifth year of the L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowships. We’re keen to get feedback from the science community on the Fellowships and their impact.
We welcome your on the record and off the record comments. On the record comments may be used in a factsheet we are putting together to accompany this year’s Fellowship announcements.
Please email any comments or feedback to Niall Byrne at
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Women in Science and Engineering Summit

Our partners – the Australian National Commission for UNESCO are holding Women in Science and Engineering Summit at Parliament House in Canberra on 11 April. Here’s an outline – further details online.
More women are studying science at university than men. But they’re not staying in science. We’re losing them mid-career.
We, as a nation, are not successfully supporting their transition into independent researchers and science leaders.

The loss of these highly trained smart women is economically and culturally damaging to Australia. And in the physical sciences and engineering we’re still further behind in achieving gender equity. Far too few young women are considering engineering and the physical sciences as potential career paths.
The Australian National Commission for UNESCO, the Australian National Committee for UN Women and the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies are holding the Women in Science and Engineering Summit (WiSE)
at Parliament House in Canberra on 11 April 2011.
The Summit brings together science and industry leaders, advocates, and high-achieving young women in science and engineering in a high profile event to:

  • Highlight the issues
  • Encourage science and engineering leaders to take practical steps to secure a higher return on their investment in young women scientists and engineers
  • Explore other opportunities to improve gender equality in science and engineering.

Further information at: