Five scientists receive L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award


Tonight, the international scientific community gathered to honour and celebrate five exceptional women scientists and their accomplishments in the physical sciences during the 19th edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards Ceremony at the Maison de la Mutualité. The event was opened by a message from Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO and by Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and CEO of L’Oréal and Chairman of the L’Oréal Foundation.

“Each and every UNESCO L’Oréal Laureate is an inspiration to me and to girls and to women across the world to work harder to promote and recognize the contribution of women to science” said Irina Bokova in her message. “Each shows us that humanity as a whole cannot prosper with only 50% of its creative genius – this is not right, and it’s not smart either (…) This is really a call to action, for every girl and every woman to be empowered at every level – in learning, in research, in administration and in teaching, across all scientific fields.”

Jean-Paul Agon highlighted the power of these women scientists, as well as all of the women scientists who have been celebrated this year, in his opening speech: “Only a shared, controlled science, at the service of the world’s population, is able to meet the major challenges of the twenty-first century, and our researchers are the proof. They are the ones that give science all its greatness”.

The 2017 Edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards Ceremony celebrated 5 eminent women scientists and their excellence, creativity and intelligence. Each woman received an Award of 100,000 € to commend their scientific contributions in the fields of quantum physics, physical sciences and astrophysics. The Awards are presented every year to five women, one from each world region (Africa and the Arab States, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America). Each scientist has had a unique career path combining exceptional talent, a deep commitment to her profession and remarkable courage in a field still largely dominated by men.

These 5 exceptional women are each contributing in their own way to change the world for the better.

Africa and the Arab States

Professor Niveen KHASHAB
Associate Professor of Chemical Sciences and Engineering, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia

Analytical chemistry
“For designing novel nanoparticles that could improve early detection of disease.”

Asia / Pacific

Professor Michelle SIMMONS
Professor, Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology – University of New South Wales, Australia

Quantum physics
“For pioneering ultra-fast quantum computers.”


Professor Nicola SPALDIN
Professor and Chair of Materials Theory, ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Solid state physics
“For reinventing magnetic materials for next-generation electronic devices.”

Latin America

Professor Maria Teresa RUIZ
Professor, Department of Astronomy, Dept. / Universidad de Chile, Chile

“For her contributions to the study of a variety of faint celestial objects hidden in the darkness of the universe.”

North America

Professor Zhenan BAO
Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, USA

Material Chemistry
“For inventing skin-inspired electronic materials.”