The L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science

“The world needs science, and science needs women because women in science have the power to change the world.”

The L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program seeks to recognize accomplished women researchers, to encourage more young women to enter the profession, and to assist them once their careers are in progress.

While the situation is improving, there is still much to do before worldwide equality between women and men has been achieved in science, including in Quebec and Canada. Women account for only 28 percent of researchers across the world (UNESCO Science Report, 2015). This situation can be explained by the difficulties women still encounter as they advance in their scientific careers, and by the lack of support they receive to accomplish their field projects.

To attract more women to science, we must instill scientific confidence in girls from an early age by introducing them to women scientists with inspiring careers. Also, more women scientists should be able to obtain positions of responsibility. This is what the L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO are striving to accomplish with the L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science.

Unique visibility

In addition to receiving a financial award, the recipients benefit from unparalleled visibility, both in Canada and internationally, through interviews with the media, social media activities with UNESCO, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO) and L’Oréal, and are invited to an award ceremony attended by academia within the recipients’ fields, as well as other influential people. This allows them to become known as researchers and to gain visibility for their research.

What awards are given?

  • Each year, two Excellence in Research Fellowships, each worth $20,000, are awarded to young women in science to support their postdoctoral research projects.
  • In addition, and in partnership with the French Embassy in Ottawa, two $5,000 fellowships are given to young PhD science students as part of the France Canada Research Fund (FCRF).
  • Lastly, in collaboration with the CCUNESCO and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), a $10,000 postdoctoral fellowship supplement is awarded to a Canadian scientist involved in a promising research project.
  • Along with the award, successful fellowship recipients have the opportunity to gain higher visibility through participation in conferences and interviews with the media. In addition, they serve as mentors in the L’Oréal Canada For Girls in Science Program.

Application process

The application process is open to all women candidates, and they can apply through Universities Canada for the two excellence fellowships, through NSERC for the postdoctoral fellowship supplement, or through the FCRF for the PhD fellowship.

2016 Laureates

Women in Science

2016 Laureates (with flowers), from left to right: Dr. Kathryn Hargan, Dr. Lorina Naci, Stephanie Kedzior, Victoria Arbour, Joanna Bundus

Dr Lorina Naci – 2016 L'Oreal-UNESCO Excellence in Research Fellowship

PhD, Brain Injury, Cognition, Consciousness, Western University

Dr Naci’s research program seeks to understand how the functional organization of the brain supports human cognition and consciousness, and how this organization breaks down in the disordered brain. Her work combines psychological theory, neuroimaging, and research of brain-injured and anesthetized patients, and translates this knowledge to develop clinically applicable neuroimaging measures. Additionally, her work explores the medico-ethical and societal implications of such applications, to build ethical guidelines for their translation to clinical settings.

Stefanie Vogt– 2016 L'Oreal-UNESCO Excellence in Research Fellowship

PhD, Microbiology, University of British Columbia

Stefanie Vogt obtained her PhD in Microbiology & Biotechnology from the University of Alberta in 2013. Currently, she is a postdoctoral fellow in Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia. Stefanie’s research focuses on how bacterial pathogens sense and respond to their environment, and in particular, how pathogenic E. coli interacts with the bacterial communities found in the human gut.

Victoria Arbour – NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow

Evolutionary biologist and vertebrate palaeontologist University of Toronto and Royal Ontario Museum

Victoria is an evolutionary biologist and an expert on the armoured dinosaurs known as ankylosaurs. These dinosaurs possessed unusual tails that were modified into axe-like weapons, and Victoria’s work has covered the evolutionary origin of ankylosaur tail clubs, the biomechanics of tail club impacts, and what features constrain the evolution of tail weapons. Her research also investigates the biogeography of dinosaurs and how changing climate influenced dinosaur distributions in North America and Asia. Victoria completed a BSc at Dalhousie University, an MSc and PhD at the University of Alberta, and spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences/North Carolina State University (in Raleigh, NC) before moving back to Canada to take up an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship at the Royal Ontario Museum/University of Toronto. She helped create the massive open online course Dino 101, reaching over 70,000 learners around the globe. She was also featured in the recent television documentary Dino Hunt Canada, and has served as a scientific consultant for the film Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, the documentary Clash of the Dinosaurs, and the upcoming video game Saurian.

Stephanie Kedzior – 2016 Fellow France Canada Research Fund

Chemical Engineering, McMaster University

Stephanie Kedzior is a PhD Candidate in Chemical Engineering at McMaster University. She obtained her Bachelor of Applied Science in Nanotechnology Engineering at the University of Waterloo in 2013. Her PhD work is focused on using sustainable nanomaterials in adhesive coatings. She is also a Unit Guider with the Girl Guides of Canada and volunteers with science and engineering camps as a chemical engineering mentor.

Joanna Bundus – 2016 Fellow France Canada Research Fund

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Joanna Bundus is a PhD candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. In the Cutter lab, she studies speciation - the evolutionary process that causes a single species to divide into two new species.