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L'Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellows Announced

Julie Meyer, Sarah Richardson, Sarah Ballard, Claire Robertson, Ming Yi, the 2015 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellows. Photo Credit: L'Oréal USA For Women in Science.

L’Oréal has announced five winners of the 2015 For Women in Science Fellowship.

The L'Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellowship celebrates and supports women postdoctoral scientists working or studying in the physical and life sciences in the United States. Designed to encourage women to pursue careers in underrepresented fields of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering, the program asks fellows to serve as role models for younger generations. Winners are selected based on their intellectual merit, academic records, and scholarly scientific study; their ability to plan and conduct research; and their scientific excellence.

This year's winners work in a variety of fields, from cancer bioengineering, exoplanet astrophysics, and synthetic biology to marine microbiology and condensed matter physics.

The 2015 fellows are:

  • Ming Yi, 30, is a postdoctoral scientist in condensed matter physics at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work focuses on high-­temperature superconductivity. This phenomenon, in which electrons travel without resistance in a material at a relatively high temperature, is important to creating high-efficiency power transmission lines and high-speed Maglev trains. The L'Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship will enable Yi to purchase raw materials and travel to other facilities to perform her experiments. A new mother, Yi also will use her fellowship to create a support group encouraging mothers in STEM careers to stay and succeed in their fields.

  • Claire Robertson, 30, is a postdoctoral scientist in cancer bioengineering at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. She researches how the breast's normal environment uses biophysical mechanisms to suppress tumor formation, which has the potential to rapidly reduce breast cancer mortality. The L'Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship will provide Robertson with the resources to focus exclusively on developing new research techniques and performing complex experiments.

  • Sarah Richardson, 32, is a postdoctoral fellow in synthetic biology at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab's Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work focuses on harnessing bacteria to make molecules that could lead to the development of new biofuels and medicines and will make it easier for other scientists to implement biomanufacturing. The L'Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship will enable Richardson to conduct independent research that will further her career.

  • Julie Meyer, 39, is a postdoctoral scientist in marine microbiology at the University of Florida, where, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Marine Station, she studies the role of microbial interactions in the health and stability of coral reefs. Her research focuses on how shifts in coral microbiota are associated with Black Band Disease, a disease that kills healthy tissue in many different species of reef­building corals. The L'Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship will support the further development of Meyer's research including the sequencing of whole genomes. She also will use the fellowship to produce a short documentary film highlighting the work of women in coral reef research.

  • Sarah Ballard, 31, is a Torres Fellow in exoplanetary astrophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where her research focuses on the rapidly evolving field of exoplanets—planets that orbit stars other than the sun and may resemble Earth. A former NASA Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow, she has discovered four exoplanets. The L'Oréal USA For Women in Science award will enable Ballard to form and lead her first research team.

Each fellow receives a $60,000 grant. The L'Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellowship, which is administered by AAAS, is an annual program that has awarded a total of $3 million in grants to 60 women scientists in the United States since its inception twelve years ago. It is the American component of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program, which has given out more than 2,250 grants to women in 110 countries since 1998. It is a project of the L'Oréal Group, an international beauty corporation that includes many well-known brands.

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