AUSTIN, Texas — They’ve journeyed halfway around the globe to the world’s largest science conference, and now – jet lag aside – they’re preparing for a big day on Saturday.
They’re early-career researchers from Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ecuador, Guyana and Indonesia, and they’re being recognized for their outstanding work in the physical sciences – mathematics, physics and chemistry – and for mentoring young scientists in their communities. Their research runs the gamut from improving predictions of tsunami behavior, to using natural resources for energy storage, to developing water filters from recycled materials. And they have had to overcome formidable challenges to become scientists.
On Saturday, they will receive OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Awards for Early-Career Women Scientists in the Developing World at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting.
Each winner will be called to the podium to explain her research and the inspiration beyond it. Now, they are practicing, with coaching from colleagues from the Elsevier Foundation and the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD).
Live broadcasting and updates
We will be posting updates here through Saturday, February 17. In addition, you can follow us on social media:
- Tune in to Facebook Live for broadcasts throughout the event.
- On Twitter, follow @ElsevierConnect and use the hashtag #AAASmtg
- On Instagram, follow @ElsevierConnect and search for #ElsevierLife
The winners get expert advice at the IC2 Institute
Meet the winners
Hasibun Naher, PhD – Applied mathematics (Bangladesh)
Dr. Hasibun Naher is Associate Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at BRAC University in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her research at the interface of mathematics and science has many potential applications, including the simulation of tsunamis to make better predictions of tsunami behavior. She has published many scientific papers in renowned international journals in her research areas of partial differential equations and travelling waves, mathematical physics and mathematical biology, and she is the author of two books published by the Bangladesh National Curriculum and Textbook Board.
"This prestigious award makes me more confident that I will reach my goals, by doing research in various fields in collaboration with international scientists and researchers from developed countries,” said Dr. Naher. “Since my childhood I always thought about how to motivate female students in STEM to help them have prosperous lives in developing countries. I hope this award helps me to fulfill my dream.”
Germaine Djuidje Kenmoe, PhD – Physics (Cameroon)
Dr. Germaine Djuidje Kenmoe, Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Yaoundé in Cameroon, is being recognized for her work on mechanics and the study of friction-and-wear processes on the molecular level, which has the potential for important applications in the area of energy efficiency. Her primary goal is to make it possible to switch friction on and off in the near future, just as we can flip a light switch on and off at home.
"Receiving the OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Award means that my research has an impact in the international scientific community, said Dr. Djuidje Kenmoe. “It will also help me to boost younger girls to take up a career in physics.”
Silvia González Pérez, PhD – Theoretical and computational chemistry (Ecuador)
Dr. Silvia González Pérez is a Research Professor at the Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja in Ecuador, wehre she teaches Physical Chemistry and works with her research team. She is a theoretical and computational chemist whose research focuses on catalysis and molecular modelling of potential new substances that can be synthesized or purified from natural products. She has a PhD from the Universitat de Barcelona, Spain, specializing in Quantum Chemistry and Computational Methods, and is co-founder of the GETNano network for collaborations on the study of materials, which organizes joint work projects as well as courses for students.
"Receiving the OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Award is very important for the advancement of science in Ecuador,” said Dr. González Pérez. “Scientific work is hard in all places around the world, but even moreso in countries in development. I hope this award gives confidence to Ecuadorian scientists, especially the youngest ones.”
Witri Wahyu Lestari, PhD – Organometallic and co-ordination chemistry (Indonesia)
Dr. Witri Wahyu Lestari is a Junior Lecturer in inorganic chemistry at Sebelas Maret University in Surakarta, Indonesia. Her work on advanced materials has important applications for sustainable development. For example, her research in Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) has enabled improvements in their use in fluorescence and as catalysts in energy conversion, methane and hydrogen storage, as well as in CO2 capture to reduce the greenhouse effect.
"As a chemist, the award from OWSD and the Elsevier Foundation is like an additional catalyst or a driving force for me to be more productive in work, conducting research, educating and inspiring my students,” said Dr. Lestari. “Providing benefits to society and humanity are also main goals.”
Dr. Lestari could not travel to AAAS because she is 37 weeks pregnant, so she will accept the award via a Skype connection.
Dawn Iona Fox, PhD – Environmental and material chemistry (Guyana)
Dr. Dawn Iona Fox, a Lecturer at the University of Guyana, Turkeyen Campus, is being recognized for her research on converting local waste products into materials to solve environmental problems. Currently she is focusing on on improving drinking water quality at the household level for vulnerable communities and on “water-stress” events such as floods, storms and hurricanes. To this end, she is developing a household water treatment filter made entirely from recycled and locally available materials which could be deployed internationally.
In 2016, she co-founded a group called Women in Science & Engineering (WiSE) to support, empower and advocate for girls and women to pursue and flourish in STEM careers. Winning this award, she wrote, “gives me the confidence to continue my advocacy and outreach to encourage girls and women to consider STEM careers.”
To attend the award ceremony at AAAS
The winners will receive their awards on Saturday, February 17, in a ceremony at the Minority and Women Scientists & Engineers Networking Breakfast. If you are interested in attending, contact Domiziana Francescon.