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The OWSD - Elsevier Foundation Awards for Early-Career Women Scientists in the Developing World

Launched in 2010 by The Elsevier Foundation, TWAS and OWSD, the Awards reward and encourage women working and living in developing countries in the early stages of their scientific careers. Awardees must have made a demonstrable impact on the research environment both at a regional and international level and have often overcome great challenges to achieve research excellence.

In 2010, this scheme included the selection of 11 early career women from developing countries, working in STEM subjects.  From 2013 - 2018, in order to provide more focus and visibility, the number of awards was reduced to 5 per year and scientific disciplines were introduced on a 3-year cycle.

Each year a total of five Awards are given to five women scientists at relatively early stages in their careers (up to ten years after receiving their PhD). One woman is awarded for each of five regions in the developing world: Latin America and the Caribbean; East and South-East Asia and the Pacific; the Arab region; Central and South Asia; and Sub-Saharan Africa (see complete list of countries below).

The award has an important impact on local research cultures. Previous winners say the awards have had a powerful effect, enhancing the visibility of their past work and creating new opportunities for the future. The awardees are powerful role models for young women who are contemplating whether to remain in an environment that is often hostile to their needs and experience.

*Please note that we are no longer accepting nominations for the 2018 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Awards.*

Find a list of all previous awardees here

2018 -  Austin, Texas

2017 -  Boston, Massachusetts


The Awards rotate annually between disciplines

Subject areas are:

  • 2016 (selected in September 2015) - Biological Sciences: Agriculture, Biology and Medicine
  • 2017 (selected in 2016) - Engineering Sciences: Engineering, Innovation and Technology
  • 2018 (selected in 2017) - Physical Sciences: Chemistry, Maths and Physics

Each winner receives a cash prize of USD 5,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting (the 2018 awardees travelled to Austin, Texas and the 2017 awardees to Boston, Massachusetts). Lasting 5 days, the event is packed with networking opportunities. The winners receive their award at a special networking ceremony, as well as opportunities to attend workshops and sessions at the AAAS meeting, visits to local laboratories or institutions, and a celebratory dinner organised by the Elsevier Foundation.
For a full list of eligible subjects please see the nominations form below. Nominations typically open in August. 


The nominee must be a female scientist; have received her PhD within the previous 10 years; and have lived and worked in one of the following developing countries during the three years immediately prior to the nomination:

Latin America and the Caribbean: Belize, Dominican Rep., Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname.

East and South-East Asia and the Pacific: Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Vietnam.

Arab region: Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen.

Central and South Asia: Afghanistan , Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Angola Benin Botswana Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Rep., Chad, Congo, Dem. Rep. (formerly Zaire), Congo, Rep., Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


The competition will be judged by a distinguished panel of international scientists, including members of TWAS, OWSD and ICTP, and chaired by OWSD. The assessment will be based on achievements in the field, with particular attention paid both to the nominees’ contribution to capacity-building in their region, as well as international impact. Winners will be informed of their selection in November 2017.


Nominations are invited from senior academics, including OWSD members, TWAS Fellows, ICTP visiting scientists and staff, national science academies, national research councils and heads of departments/universities both in developing and developed countries. Please note that self-nominations are not accepted. Nominations must be made on the nomination form and signed by the nominator; they must include the candidate's curriculum vitae and full list of publications; and be accompanied by three reference letters.

Nomination Form

Nominations for the 2018 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Awards are no longer being accepted. The nomination form will be available here when the next Awards are opened for submissions.


Completed nomination forms should be sent as email attachment to:

OWSD Secretariat
OWSD-Elsevier Awards
ICTP campus
Strada Costiera 11
4151 Trieste

Phone: +39 040 2240321  Fax: +39 040 2240689


2016 - Washington , D.C.

2015 - San Jose, CA.

2014 - Chicago, IL.

2013 - Bosotn, Mass.

2011 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia