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  • TWAS awards female chemists and relaunches website

Piers Benatar / Panos

Speed read

  • The prize tries to boost research by female scientists in the developing world

  • The winners are from Indonesia, Jamaica, Nigeria, Uzbekistan and Yemen

  • The World Academy of Sciences’ new site aims to simplify information seeking

Five female chemists from the developing world will receive US$5,000 prizes this week (15 February) at a ceremony at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago, United States.
 
The winners of the second Elsevier Foundation Awards for Early Career Women Scientists in the Developing World come from Indonesia, Jamaica, Nigeria, Uzbekistan and Yemen, according to TWAS (The World Academy of Sciences) which co-awards the prizes.  
 
TWAS focuses on sustainable prosperity in the developing world and has more than 1,100 elected fellows from 90 countries — 15 of them are Nobel laureates. It also relaunched its website this week with the aim of making it easier to access information about the organisation, its research grants and policy work.
 
“Women need science, science needs women and they need to work together,” the winner from Indonesia, Ritmaleni from the Gadjah Mada University, said in a press release.
 
Ritmaleni is being honoured for her work on using organic synthesis to develop tropical medicines. This year’s awards focus on research into the medicinal properties of natural compounds.
 
The other winners are: Eqbal Mohammed Abdu Dauqan from the Al-Saeed University, Yemen; Taiwo Olayemi Elufioye from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; Nilufar Mamadalieva from the Institute of the Chemistry of Plant Substances, Uzbekistan; and Simone Ann Marie Badal McCreath from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica.
 

“Women need science, science needs women and they need to work together.”

Ritmaleni, Gadjah Mada University 

The awards aim to recognise and encourage scientific research carried out by women in the least scientifically advanced developing countries.
 
“These awards could bring them exciting new opportunities for research,” said TWAS executive director Romain Murenzi in a press release.
 
“We also believe that, over time, these researchers also will fulfil their potential as teachers and mentors, as partners in international projects and as advisors to governments. Such leadership can make a long-lasting contribution to global science.”
 
The winners stressed the awards’ importance to building their confidence and encouraging female scientists.
 
McCreath, who won for her work on the cancer-fighting properties of Jamaican natural compounds, said: “Such an award is also vital [for] increasing awareness and consequently interest among the private sector and governmental communities, and will encourage the development of an anti-cancer research facility of excellence in Jamaica and, by extension, in the Caribbean.”
 
The prizes, launched in 2012, are jointly awarded by TWAS, the Elsevier Foundation and the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World.
 
Last year’s winners, from Bangladesh, Mongolia, Nigeria, Peru and Yemen, worked in the life sciences. After this year’s focus on chemistry, the 2015 prize will be for physics and mathematics.
 
Earlier this week, TWAS also unveiled a new website design that it hopes “puts a sharp focus on the fellowships, research grants and other opportunities that it offers to researchers”.
 
TWAS says improvements include clearer presentation, easier navigation, and formatting for tablets.
 
“TWAS is beginning its fourth decade and we wanted TWAS.org to reflect our mission and our vision for the future,” said Murenzi. “Just as important, when visitors come to the site to learn about a PhD fellowship or our work in science policy, we want to be sure that the site is both interesting and easy to use.”
 
By mid-2014, the academy plans to unveil the second part of its upgrades, such as a low-bandwidth version of the website for smartphones and a ‘wizard’ tool to help scientists sort through TWAS programmes to find opportunities that match their interests.
 
Link to TWAS’s new website