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Five Women Engineers awarded for Innovative Research in Developing Countries

February 23, 2017

OWSD and Elsevier Foundation recognized five early-career women scientists at AAAS Meeting

When women are successful innovators, they often make life-changing, long-term contributions to the lifestyles and economies of the poorest countries. And often, it’s by identifying unseen but critical issues and finding answers that others have not even considered. That’s why it makes sense to support women in developing countries when they take up engineering and technology in secondary school, university and beyond.

The annual OWSD - Elsevier Foundation Award for Early-Career Women Scientists in the Developing World celebrates impressive women like these, empowering them to continue their work at an international level — and holding them up as role models for others to follow.  

As Ylann Schemm, Program Director of the Elsevier Foundation, explained:

“Each year, our call for award nominations taps into OWSD’s deep network of women scientists in low-income countries, and once again, we have a very talented group of innovators. Each of these winners is working in emerging fields tackling some of the toughest challenges out there – from cyber security to decontamination of our most precious resources. By celebrating their achievements at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) our goal is to open doors and connect them with their global research peers.”

Four women researchers, Tanzima Hashem (Bangladesh), Felycia Edi Soetaredjo (Indonesia), Grace Ofori-Sarpong (Ghana) and María Fernanda Rivera Velásquez (Ecuador), received the award from OWSD and the Elsevier Foundation representatives during the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting in Boston February 16 to 20. Unfortunately Rania Mokthar of Sudan was not able to come to AAAS because she could not make alternative travel plans after the US travel ban was lifted. This year’s award is for engineering, innovation and technology — a perfect fit for the AAAS theme: “Serving Society through Science Policy.”

The OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Award celebrates pioneering research, rotating annually between disciplines (biological sciences; engineering, innovation and technology; and physical sciences) across five regions: Sub-Saharan Africa; Central and South Asia; East/Southeast Asia and the Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean; and the Arab region. Recipients were selected by a panel of distinguished scientists organized and chaired by OWSD. The prize includes $5,000 and all-expenses-paid attendance at the AAAS meeting, which is fully provided by the Elsevier Foundation.

The determination, commitment and enthusiasm of these five women are an inspiration to us all but especially to other women undertaking scientific research in developing countries,” said OWSD President Dr. Jennifer Thomson, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. “This award celebrates their excellent science and demonstrates that their hard work has had an impact both regionally and internationally, despite the difficult local conditions."

Previous winners have reported that the awards have had a powerful impact professionally and personally. By raising the visibility of their research nationally and internationally, the awards open doors to more international networks, high-level conferences and research collaborations.

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