Next generation of science stars: 5 female scientists receive 2006 L’Oréal USA fellowships

National program honors women scientists; Boosts careers, builds networks

New York, NY -- L'Oréal USA announced today the recipients of its esteemed 2006 Fellowships for Women In Science at an awards ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Five young women, all on the cutting-edge of scientific advances, were awarded $20,000 each to carry out research projects. Now in its third year, the highly selective L'Oréal USA Fellows program recognizes and rewards up-and-coming female scientists from across the country and disciplines.

While the scientific competence of men and women may be on an equal footing, there is an undeniable divergence between men's and women's careers in the sciences after they reach their late 20s and early 30s. At each successive stage on the career path, women drop out at higher rates than men. For women in science, the critical years occur during the transition from post-doctoral student to becoming a career scientist, which often coincides with starting a family. The L'Oréal USA Fellowships encourage young women to continue their careers in science, by both supporting them financially and helping them strengthen their networks in the scientific community.

"The world benefits from many new discoveries that scientists and their research yield, and the need for trained scientists and researchers has increased," said Laurent Attal, President and CEO, L'Oréal USA. "Women continue to be underrepresented in many important scientific disciplines and L'Oréal believes that more can be done to encourage and support women in all fields of science. We firmly believe that science needs women."

Drawing from a competitive pool of talented post-doctoral researchers, the L'Oréal USA Fellowships for Women In Science enable young scientists to continue working toward breakthroughs in their research. Women scientists like these Fellows often serve as inspirational role models, encouraging girls across the country to stay interested in science.

The 2006 L'Oréal USA Fellows are:

  • Dr. Anne Carpenter, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Sabatini Laboratory, Cambridge, Massachusetts – cell & computational biologist, undertaking a systematic study of cell growth using an open source, cell image analysis software she co-developed called Cell Profiler (www.cellprofiler.org). At the interface between biology, computer programming and automated microscopy, Dr. Carpenter's research project aims to complete the identification and characterization of genes controlling cell growth, in the hopes of detecting which genes cause diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.
  • Dr. Anne McNeil, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts – organic and polymer chemist, currrently focusing on the synthesis of water-soluble conjugated polymers quenched by trytophan-containing cationic proteins. Dr. McNeil's research project will investigate a new approach to improve the sensitivity, selectivity and versatility of fluorescent polymer-based chemo- and biosensors. More specifically, she will explore a novel sensing scheme based on the analyte-triggered release of a "masked" quencher proximate to the fluorescent polymer. She hopes to integrate this method into a biosensor platform for the early diagnosis of diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's).
  • Dr. Stacy Philpott – Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC – conservation biologist and ecologist, studying the conservation potential of coffee certification programs in Chiapas, Mexico and Sumatra, Indonesia. Dr. Philpott's research project will focus on the effects of hurricanes and other ecological damage on coffee agroecosystems in the Soconusco region of Chiapas, Mexico, to inform conservation management decisions for long-term sustainability.
  • Dr. Michelle Povinelli – Stanford University, Stanford, California – optics and photonics engineer, considered to be one of the most outstanding young scientists in the emerging area of nano-photonic devices and systems. Dr. Povinelli is focusing on slow light in photonic-crystal structures and leading an effort to purse enhancement of frequency conversion process in non cavity structures. Dr. Povinelli's research project will study slow light in two other types of engineered photonic devices (optical fibers and superconducting qubits) with the goal of developing practical engineering applications.
  • Dr. Antonina Roll-Mecak - University of California, San Francisco, California – cellular and molecular biophysicist, forging new ground in cell biology and microscopy by combining live cell high-resolution microscopy with the tools of structure and biochemistry. She is deciphering the in vivo functions of the protein spastin, which is affected in the hereditary disease, Hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP). Dr. Roll-Mecak's research project aims to improve the understanding of the mechanism of action of spastin and the cellular consequences incurred when this enzyme fails, leading to disease.

Each year since its inception, the L'Oréal USA Fellowships for Women In Science program has attracted increasingly strong applications from women conducting innovative and groundbreaking research. A distinguished jury of eight eminent scientists -- presided over by Ralph J. Cicerone, President, National Academy of Sciences, and including former L'ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science Award laureates and others -- selects the five fellowship beneficiaries. Because this year's applicants were exceptionally compelling, the selection criteria of the 2006 winners advanced beyond the program's standard measurements (scientific excellence, prestigous academic records, strong track record of productivity, etc.) to seek out the select few who truly have the highest probability of making scientific advances.

"We should not – and cannot – expect to achieve great success without realizing and utilizing the full potential offered by so many bright, young minds in the fields of science," said Dr. Cicerone. "That's why awards that offer support and highlight the value of such extraordinary talents -- like those of the young women being honored by L'Oréal USA this year -- are key to keeping the pipeline of women in science forthcoming."

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The L'ORÉAL USA Fellowships For Women in Science program, which has recognized 15 U.S. women with distinction since its launch in 2003, is a component of the international L'ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science program. This multi-dimensional program includes the L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards, presented annually to five leading women career scientists, one per continent, and the UNESCO-L'ORÉAL International Fellowships, granted annually to 15 promising young women scientists (doctorate or post-doctorate) from the regions of Africa, the Arab States, Asia/Pacific, Europe/North America and Latin America/Caribbean.

Since the L'ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science international program started in 1998, 132 women from 60 countries have been recognized for their contributions to scientific progress. The program seeks to encourage women scientists to persevere under sometimes challenging circumstances, such as social stigmas and gender biases. By giving women in science a public face, the program aims to provide the next generation of women scientists with inspirational role models.

In 2006, L'Oréal and UNESCO launched AGORA, an online forum that focuses on women and science. The community of eminent international scientists, including Nobel laureates, as well as all L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Award Laureates and Fellows, are invited to share their ideas and experiences of various issues, including those concerning women in science. For more information, please visit: www.agora.forwomeninscience.com.

For more information on the L'ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science program, please visit www.forwomeninscience.com

ABOUT L'ORÉAL
L'ORÉAL is a worldwide leader in the cosmetics industry, developing innovative products to meet the diverse needs of customers in 130 countries worldwide. Over 2,900 people work in the Group's 13 research centers, located in France, Asia and America. Their findings are responsible for the registration of hundreds of patents annually. L'Oréal also devotes over 3% of sales annually to research and development – an investment unmatched anywhere else in the industry. Women represent 55% of L'Oréal's research and development workforce. For more information, please visit: www.loreal.com

For more information or to arrange interviews with the Fellows, L'Oréal USA or members of the Jury, please contact:

EDELMAN
Brenda Timm
Tel.: 212-704-4593
brenda.timm@edelman.com

L'ORÉAL USA
Jennie James
Tel: 212-984-4414
jsjames@us.loreal.com


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