L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science UK and Ireland Rising Talents – Meet the 2021 Fellows

September 20, 2021      –      15 min read

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Five women scientists have been awarded the 2021 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellowships.

For Women in Science

The programme, a partnership between L’Oréal UK & Ireland, the UK National Commission for UNESCO and the Irish National Commission for UNESCO, with the support of the Royal Society, offers grants to promote, enhance and encourage the contribution of women pursuing their research careers in the UK or Ireland.

UK and Ireland Rising Talents Awards

Five grants have been awarded to outstanding female postdoctoral scientists in the fields of Physical Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Computing, Life Science, and Sustainable Development. These fully flexible Fellowships are each worth £15,000 and are tenable at any UK or Irish university or research institute to support a 12-month period of research.

“Science is essential in order for the world to rise to the challenges that we are currently facing and addressing the current under-representation of women in the scientific community can positively impact the research that will help tackle these challenges. The outstanding women we recognise today through the For Women in Science UK and Ireland Rising Talent programme are exceptional in their respective fields and are shaping the future of more inclusive research”

Thierry Cheval, L’Oréal UK and Ireland, Managing Director

“Congratulations from the UK National Commission for UNESCO to the 2021 Rising Talents, whose exceptional research is vital in helping to solve the great scientific challenges of our time. We are proud to work with L’Oréal to empower more women scientists to progress their research careers, recognise their incredible contributions and push for a more inclusive sector. We hope that these remarkable researchers will encourage more girls and women to pursue a STEM career in the future.”

James Bridge, UK National Commission for UNESCO, Chief Executive Officer and Secretary-General

Engineering Prize

Dr Claudia Contini

Imperial College London

Dr CLaudia Contini is a research associate in Chemical Engineering at ICL and is Director of the Association of the Italian Scientists in the UK. She obtained a PhD in Physical Chemistry at UCL and a ISSF Welcome Trust Fellowship at ICL. Dr Contini has independently secured multiple research grants and numerous international awards, including her research in the UK being recognised by the Italian Embassy in London.

Dr Contini’s research aims to set inanimate matter in motion at the nano and microscale. Realising an artificial motile system, controlling its motion and mimicking the biological communication, will push the boundaries of scientific discovery and pave the way for biomedical applications.

Life Sciences Prize

Dr Qian Wu

University of Leeds

Dr Qian Wu is a structural biologist studying DNA repair. Dr Wu received her PhD from Professor Sir Tom Blundell’s group in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. She is currently a University Academic Fellow in the School of Molecular and Cell Biology at the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology at the University of Leeds.

Dr Wu’s research aims to understand the molecular mechanism of DNA repair for double-strand breaks and develop protein tools that enable us to investigate the regulation of repair pathway choice.

Mathematics and Computer Science Prize

Dr Daria Frank

University of Cambridge

Dr Daria Frank completed her PhD studies in Applied Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and completed her first post-doctoral appointment in Environmental Fluid Dynamics. In 2020, Daria became the Sultan Qaboos Early-Career Research Fellow and College Lecturer in Mathematics at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge. Dr Frank’s research focusses on fundamental environmentally motivated fluid dynamical problems related to turbulent and multiphase flows.

With her research proposal, Daria intends to study how multiphase jets and plumes transport contaminants and re-distribute them in the environment. The main goal is to understand how these flows can be actively controlled in order to protect our environment by either inhibiting or enhancing the contaminants transport.

Physical Sciences Prize

Dr Jessica Wade

Imperial College London

Dr Jessica Wade is an Imperial College Research Fellow in the Department of Materials at Imperial College London. Her research considers new materials for optoelectronic devices, with a focus on chiral organic semiconductors. For her PhD Jess concentrated on new materials for photovoltaics and the development of advanced characterisation techniques to better understand their molecular packing. Outside of the lab, Dr Wade is involved with several science communication and outreach initiatives. She is committed to improving diversity in science, both online and offline.

The detection of weak magnetic fields is central to many technologies, from low-power computation and memory devices to brain imaging and materials safety testing. In an effort to realise low-cost, light-weight and ultra-sensitive magnetic field detectors, Dr Wade will make use of the remarkable properties of conjugated organic materials. Specifically, she plans to take an optical approach to magnetic field sensing via a magneto-optic phenomenon known as Faraday rotation.

Sustainable Development Prize

Dr Michelle Browne

Trinity College Dublin

Dr Michelle Browne is currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellow in Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Ireland, under the mentorship of Prof. Valeria Nicolosi. In 2017, she obtained a Ph. in electrochemistry and materials science from TCD. From 2017 to 2020, Michelle conducted research in the field of electrochemical energy conversion in Queens University Belfast and in the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague as a postdoctoral researcher.

Dr Browne’s current research remit is focused on the production of green (clean) hydrogen in water electrolysers for the generation of electricity to replace fossil fuel-based energy production routes for various applications such as automotive and infrastructure. Her proposed research is focused on integrating electrolyser devices into academic driven water electrolyser research to develop inexpensive, scalable and sustainable materials to produce green hydrogen.

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