L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Program: 20 SSA women researchers awarded

As part of the 10th edition of its regional program For Women in Science, the L'Oréal Foundation and UNESCO have held a ceremony in Dakar, honoring 20 female researchers who received the 2019 Young Talent Award for Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The number of women in Science is not yet significant: only 2.4% of the world's researchers are African scientists, of whom 30% are women. Through the Young Talent Award for Sub-Saharan Africa, we promote and support the continent's remarkable female researchers. They play a key role to develop inclusive research in Africa, for Africa and conducted by Africans", explains Alexandra Palt, Executive Director of the L'Oréal Foundation.

Coming from 15 countries, these computer scientists, engineers or biologists, prove the diversity and crucial role of women's scientific research on the continent. They were awarded in front of a high-level audience from all over Africa. Mrs. Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi, First Lady of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mr. Sheikh Oumar Anne, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation of Senegal, honored the event with their presence. Other personalities attended the event: representatives of the scientific world and public authorities, Dimitri Sanga, Regional Director of UNESCO West Africa (Sahel), intellectuals, opinion leaders, organizations promoting gender equality -including Hafsat Abiola, President of Women in Africa-, and influential women, such as the singer Coumba Gawlo Seck.

Created in 1998, the For Women in Science program, led by the L'Oréal Foundation in partnership with UNESCO, aims to promote women in the field of scientific research, where the glass ceiling remains a reality. Over the past 21 years, more than 3,400 women researchers from 118 countries have been highlighted.

Through the regional Young Talents Sub-Saharan Africa program, the L'Oréal Foundation and UNESCO have already supported 129 doctoral and post-doctoral students, who are contributing through their work to building the continent's future. This year, this sub-Saharan Africa program is celebrating its tenth anniversary. On this occasion, the L'Oréal Foundation and UNESCO strengthened their commitment and doubled the number of young women researchers awarded each year in Africa.

In 2019, in addition to the 7 women scientists awarded in South Africa, 15 doctoral and 5 post-doctoral candidates from 15 sub-Saharan African countries, including 2 from Senegal, have been honored. They were selected for their scientific excellence out of nearly 400 applications.

The Young Talents received financial support for their scientific work, with allocations of €10,000 for doctoral students and €15,000 for post-doctoral students. These 20 researchers and the 7 scientists of the South African national program have also benefited from a training program designed to give them more resources to pursue their careers. This four-day training course, given by international experts selected by the L'Oréal Foundation, covered different dimensions: leadership, management, negotiation, public speaking, media training and personal branding.


1 - Regina Esinam ABOTSI – Doctoral candidate – Ghana – University of Cape Town, South Africa
Discipline: Health Sciences
Research project: Determining antibiotic resistance in potentially pathogenic bacteria present in the respiratory tract of HIV-infected children.
2 - Becky Nancy ALOO – Doctoral candidate – Kenya – Laboratory, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Arusha City, Tanzania
Discipline: Biological Sciences
Research project: Identifying novel species of Irish potato to enhance yields.
3 - Fatoumata BA – Doctoral candidate – Senegal – Gaston Berger University of Saint-Louis  
Discipline: Fundamental medicine
Research project: Studying sleep to better fight metabolic diseases.
4 - Mercy Temitope BANKOLE – Post-Doctoral candidate – Nigeria – Federal University of Technology, Minna Niger State
Discipline: Chemistry
Research project: Healing open wounds faster and better thanks to a nanocomposite.
5 - Najah Fatou COLY – Doctoral candidate – Senegal – Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar
Discipline: Biological sciences
Research project: Better understanding infections during delivery to fight neonatal mortality
6 - Funmilola FAGBOLA – Doctoral candidate – Nigeria – Ladoke Akintola University of Technology 
Discipline: Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering
Research project: Detecting misinformation with proof and deep learning models, and nature-inspired algorithms
7 - Nowsheen GOONOO – Post-Doctoral candidate – Mauritius – Mauritius University, Moka
Discipline: Materials sciences
Research project: Avoiding amputations by enhancing healing in diabetic wounds
8 - Fatou JOOF – Doctoral candidate – Gambia – Banjul Open University 
Discipline: Biological Sciences
Research project: Developing new antimalarial strategies by tracking genetic mutations
9 - Ruth KIHIKA – Doctoral candidate – Kenya – Nairobi Kenyatta University
Discipline: Chemistry
Research project: Identifying gene targets that correlate with biochemical pathways responsible for plant resistance to parasites
10 - Stéphanie Maubath Carène KONAN – Doctoral candidate – Côte d’Ivoire – Félix Houphouët Boigny University, Abidjan
Discipline: Informatics and Information Science
Research project: Geomatics at the service of the fight against malnutrition
11 - Carine KUNSEVI-KILOLA – Doctoral candidate – Democratic Republic of Congo – Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Discipline: Health Sciences
Research project: Combating tuberculosis contamination in diabetics
12 - Jacqueline KYOSIIMIRE-LUGEMWA – Post-Doctoral candidate – MRC/UVRI & London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Unité de recherche ougandaise, Uganda 
Discipline: Health Sciences
Research project: Generating comprehensive data on the pre-existing immune status and its effect on vaccine response.
13 - Henintsoa Onivola MINOARIVELO – Post-Doctoral candidate – Madagascar – Université de Stellenbosch, Afrique du Sud
Discipline: Mathematics
Research project: Using mathematical modelling and computational simulations to predict the fate of insect pollinators.
14 - Celia MOFFAT JOEL MATYANGA – Doctoral candidate – Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe University, Harare
Discipline: Fundamental Medicine
Research project: Using the interactions between a herbal traditional medicine and first line treatment of hiv/aids
15 - Mweete NGLAZI – Doctoral candidate – Zambia – Cap University, South Africa
Discipline: Health Sciences
Research project: An analysis of overweight and obesity in South Africa: the case of women of childbearing age
16 - Ines NGOH – Doctoral candidate – Cameroon – Buea University et London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Gambian Research Unit, Gambia
Discipline: Biological sciences
Research project: Understanding genetic variations, used by natural populations of malaria parasites
17 - Georgina NYAWO – Doctoral candidate – Zimbabwe – Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Discipline: Health sciences
Research project: - Assessing the microbiome in patients with tuberculosis to develop novel diagnostic interventions and therapeutic
18 - Cécile Harmonie OTOIDOBIGA – Post-Doctoral researcher – Burkina Faso – Ouagadougou Joseph Ki-Zerbo University
Discipline: Biological Sciences
Research project: Improving productivity of lowland rice in West Africa
19 - Francine TANKEU – Doctoral candidate – Cameroon – Yaoundé 1 University
Discipline: Biological Sciences
Research project: Treating leukemia by allying biochemistry to the power of plants
20 - Jesugnon Fifamè Murielle Féty TONOUEWA – Doctoral candidate – Benin – Parakou University
Discipline: Environmental Engineering
Research project: Improving the Acacia wood supply chain in Benin

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