LONDON, November 17 /PRNewswire/ --

LONDON, November 17 /PRNewswire/ --

A British scientist has been named 2009 European Laureate as part of the prestigious L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science. Professor Athene Donald, Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge University, will be one of only five exceptional female scientists from around the world to win the award, which for ten years has celebrated the achievements made by women in science.

Chosen on merit of her scientific excellence, Athene Donald impressed the judges with her work in unravelling the mysteries of the physics of materials ranging from ice-cream, to cement, starch and proteins from the brain. She becomes only the second British scientist to receive the prize, which will be awarded alongside four other exceptional scientists, one from each continent, at an awards ceremony held at UNESCO next March.

We set out to change perceptions of women in science with UNESCO in 1998, by recognising the role and significance of women scientists, commented Jennifer Campbell, Director, Partnerships and Philanthropy, L'Oréal.

Athene's award is testament to the outstanding contribution she has made to science. At L'Oréal, we were also struck by how she inspires young female scientists to combine work with family life and reach the highest echelons of science.

The theme of the 2009 awards is Physical Sciences and the Laureates were selected through nominations by a network of nearly 1,000 members of the international scientific community. Diverse in origin, determined in nature, and extraordinary in intellect, the 2009 Laureates reflect the programme's mission: change the face of science and support the advancement of women in the scientific field. The Awards Ceremony will take place on 5th March 2009, at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Each Laureate will receive $100,000 in recognition of her contribution to science.

The Laureates for the L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science 2009:

- Africa the Arab States: Professor Tebello Nyokong, Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Rhodes University in South Africa, for her work on harnessing light for cancer therapy and for environmental clean-up. - Asia-Pacific: Professor Akiko Kobayashi, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry, College of Humanities and Sciences at Nihon University in Japan, for her contribution to the development of molecular conductors and the design and synthesis of a single-component molecular metal. - North America: Professor Eugenia Kumacheva, Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Toronto in Canada, for the design and development of new materials with many applications including targeted drug delivery for cancer treatments and materials for high density optical data storage. - Europe: Professor Athene M. Donald, Professor of Experimental Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory in the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, for her work in unravelling the mysteries of the physics of messy materials, ranging from cement to starch. - Latin America: Professor Beatriz Barbuy, Professor at the Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, for her work on the life of stars from the birth of the universe to the present time.

A Prestigious Jury Presided by Ahmed Zewail, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1999

The 2009 L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards Jury is made up of 17 eminent members of the international scientific community from five continents, with Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1999 recipient Professor Ahmed Zewail as the Jury President. Professor Christian de Duve, who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine 1974, is the Founding President of the Awards, and Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, is Honorary President.

As President of the Jury, Professor Zewail oversees the identification, analysis and final selection of the world's five most astounding women in international science. It is a pleasure to be the president of the jury, says Professor Zewail. There is no doubt that the programme's goal of identifying women notable for their scientific excellence is of major importance to the future of science and our world.

A Pioneering Programme: More Than 10 Years of Supporting Women in Science

Created in 1998, the L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science were established as the first international awards dedicated to women scientists around the world. More than 10 years and 57 Laureates later, the programme is a benchmark of international scientific excellence, and an invaluable source of motivation, support, and inspiration for women in the scientific field. The Awards alternate each year between Life Sciences and Physical Sciences, recognising work that makes major advances and addresses major challenges in modern science. The Laureates serve as role models for future generations, encouraging young women around the world to follow in their footsteps.

In addition to its international Award Laureates, the L'ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science programme has to date granted 120 International Fellowships and 340 National Fellowships to female doctoral and postdoctoral students, fostering a global community of scientific talent that continues to grow each year.

* Femtochemistry is the science of studying atoms and molecules in slow motion during a reaction, allowing the human eye to witness chemical events that occur in quadrillionths of a second.


The L'Oréal Corporate Foundation is committed to three areas of action: encouraging education, fostering scientific research, and creating bonds of solidarity for those in fragile circumstances. The L'Oréal Foundation, which presently regroups a number of major existing corporate philanthropy initiatives including the L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science will strengthen these actions and ensure their continuity, as well as develop new programmes in the coming years.


Since its creation in 1945, UNESCO has pursued the mission of promoting science - the S in its acronym - for peace. Today, UNESCO notably aims to reinforce international cooperation in the basic sciences among its 193 Member States and promotes ethical norms in science. The Organisation has also been dedicated to eliminating all forms of discrimination and promoting equality between men and women. As well as developing educational programmes in science particularly designed for girls, UNESCO has established a network of academic chairs creating links between women in science around the world.

For further information, please contact: Louise Hooton, Corporate Communications, L'Oréal, E:, T: +44-7747-693-117