UK scientist receives global award at the 17th Annual L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards

UK Scientist Professor Dame Carol Robinson has been named the 2015 European Laureate in 17th annual L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards.


Professor of Chemistry at University of Oxford, Robinson joins five exceptional women scientists from around the world, one from each continent, who will be recognised for their contribution to science at an awards ceremony, held at The Sorbonne in Paris on 18th March 2015.

The €100,000 award celebrates the outstanding achievements of women in science and is recognised as one of the premier international science awards. Professor Dame Robinson was chosen for creating a revolutionary method for studying how proteins function, particularly membrane proteins, and establishing a whole new scientific field: gas phase structural biology. Her pioneering work could have a significant impact on medical research.

The Laureates were selected through nominations by a network of nearly 1,000 members of the international scientific community and then by an awards jury made up of 12 prominent scientists who were personally chosen by the President of the Jury and 1999 Nobel Prize winner, Prof. Ahmed Zewail.

This year’s 5 Laureates are being honored for their ground-breaking discoveries in the physical sciences. By studying the infinitely large to the infinitely small, they have pushed back the frontiers of knowledge to explain the most fundamental questions of the universe and contribute to solving some of today’s greatest challenges. Passionate in life as much as in their work, they are also committed to giving back to their communities and transmitting their love of science.

The Laureates of the 2015 L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards in Physical Sciences are:

  • Professor Dame Carol Robinson, University of Oxford (United Kingdom
    Physical Chemistry - Mass Spectrometry. For creating a revolutionary method for studying how proteins function, particularly membrane proteins, which play a vital role in many life processes.
  • Professor Rajaa Cherkaoui El Moursli, Mohammed V- Agdal University, Rabat (Morocco)
    High Energy Physics and Nuclear Physics. For her key contribution to the effort that led to the detection of the Higgs boson, the particle responsible for the creation of mass in the universe.
  • Professor Yie Xie, University of Science & Technology of China, Hefei (China)  
    Inorganic Chemistry. For her significant contributions to creating new materials a few atoms thick with promising applications in electronics and in conversion of heat or sunlight into electricity.
  • Professor Thaisa Storchi Bergmann, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre (Brazil)
    Physics and Astronomy. For her outstanding work leading to the understanding of how massive black holes form in the centers of galaxies, evolve and shape them.
  • Professor Molly Shoichet, University of Toronto (Canada)
    Organic Chemistry. For her pioneering approach to biomaterial development to regenerate damaged nerve tissue and for her development of a new method to deliver drugs to the spinal cord and brain.

Professor Dame Carol Robinson manages her research group from the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Oxford, she is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford.  Carol ‘s career path is particularly inspiring:  she left school at 16, then studied part time whilst working, and then took an 8 year career break to raise her children before returning to academia. She was the first female Professor of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and then the first female Professor of Chemisty at the University Oxford.  Carol is passionate about encouraging women into the world of science:

“It is important to follow your passion and to be committed.  Being an academic is a very flexible career, particularly if you have outside commitments. There are so many positives about being a scientist - opportunities to present your research, to interact at conferences and to carry out collaborations across the world. It really is a great career choice.”      

Carol is the 5th British scientist to have been selected for the European continent in the 17 years of the programme's existence. This is a remarkably high number of Laureates from any one country, highlighting how the UK is an excellent incubator of scientific talent.

A global programme promoting women and careers in science

“We are very proud to have changed the face of science by supporting women in science” said Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and CEO of L’Oréal and Chairman of L’Oréal Foundation. “We are convinced that science and women bring hope and foster discovery, innovation and excellence. All the best talents must be called upon to accomplish this mission. L’Oréal believes in women, L’Oréal believes in science.”

Established in 1998, the L’Oréal-UNESCO partnership is a long-term commitment to recognizing women in science and supporting scientific vocations. For Women in Science has grown into a global programme that includes International, Regional and National Fellowships and an international network of more than 2,250 women in 110 countries.