20 years after its inception, the 2018 L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards are presented once again to five accomplished scientists from five continents in Paris today. All of the laureates are global leaders in their field, and they will receive €100,000 in prize money each for their outstanding contribution to advances in science.
For Europe, British plant scientist Prof Dame Caroline Dean was chosen as laureate by the independent jury, chaired by 2009 Nobel Prize winner Professor Elizabeth H. Blackburn. The judges picked Prof Dean for her "ground-breaking research on how plants adapt to their surroundings and climate change, leading to new ways for crop improvement."
Prof Dean's lab at the John Innes Centre studies a plant development process called vernalisation. Cold temperatures trigger epigenetic changes in the genome of many plants, resulting in an acceleration of flowering. Understanding the processes at work also has ecological significance as it reveals under which conditions the plants will thrive.
Dale Sanders, Director of the John Innes Centre, points out that Prof Dean is not only an outstanding researcher, but also an advocate for female scientists: "Caroline is an excellent role model and ambassador for women in science. Her passion and drive for her science is inspiring and she works with outstanding enthusiasm to encourage more women to aspire to be scientists and to reach their full potential. She is a shining example to us all."
The L'Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Awards each year honours five exceptional female researchers. It aims to shine a light on the many eminent women in science all over the world, and in particular they expose the under-representation of women in prestigious awards. This year the organisers draw attention to the fact that all nine of the Nobel Prizes for science in 2017 were awarded to men, and since the creation of the Nobel Prizes in science, fewer than 3 percent have been awarded to women.