Women are still under-represented in various fields, including Science, where barely 28% of researchers are women. Since the creation of the Nobel Prizes in Science, less than 3% have been awarded to women.
However, The L’Oréal-UNESCO Program for Women in Science has recognized outstanding female scientists for the last 20 years. Since 1998, the programme has supported 3,122 women to date, rewarding 102 laureates and granting 3,020 Doctoral and Post-Doctoral fellowships in 117 countries.
This year the countries represented include Kenya (2), Nigeria (2), South Africa (8) Ghana (1), Mauritius (1).See the list below.
Beginning 2010, female scientists from across Sub-Saharan Africa have been honoured for their work and impact in various scientific fields including those addressing key global issues.
List of Selected Candidates (PhD)
Fiona Mumoki (Kenya)
Title of Project
The role of brood pheromones in inhibiting dominance in Apis mellifera
capensis reproductive parasites
Ms. Fiona Mumoki is a student at the University of Pretoria conducting her research in the role of brood pheromones in inhibiting dominance in Apis mellifera capensis reproductive parasites.
Ms. Fiona describes the study as the honeybee queen mandibular gland secretions enabling queens to prevent the typically-sterile workers from becoming reproductives. However, anarchistic bees (workerswho become reproductively dominant in the presence of the queen), do exist.
An extreme form of anarchy is seen in the intraspecific social parasite Apis mellifera capensis, which infestsusceptible host colonies, usurping the role of reproduction from the queen; leading to colony collapse.Beekeepers in South Africa loose more than 40% of their colonies to ‘the capensis problem’ annually.
Recent research (Mumoki et al, in revision) shows that in field conditions, some infested colonies cancontrol reproductive competition from the parasitic laying workers. However, she explains that we do notfully understand the pheromonal environment that enables this suppression of dominance in somecolonies yet.
The aim of this project is to examine the effect that changes in social conditions may have on thedevelopment of reproductive dominance of bees, by examining the differences in pheromonalcomposition between colonies able to resist infestation against those that succumb. Understanding thispheromonal interplay will enable researchers to come up with practical solutions for beekeepers and alsocontribute to the understanding of the evolution of reproductive division of labour in social insects. Outcomes of the research will help beekeepers in South Africa cut back on lose of their bee colonies (more than 40% ) to ‘the capensis problem’ annually.
Most recently she has received a travel grant from the International Union for the study of social insects(IUSSI) North American Chapter to attend the IUSSI 2018 Congress in Brazil. Ms Mumoki also received cashprizes for attaining the 2nd place student award at the 2017 Chromatography Postgraduate StudentWorkshop organized by the Chromatography Division of the South African Chemical Institute, and the“Student of the Year” award at the 5th TReND school on insect neuroscience and drosophila neurogenetics, Summer School 2015. She also has eight publications and a book chapter in her portfolio.
Gladys Mosomtai (Kenya)
Title of project
Influence of landscape dynamics, microclimate variability and agronomic practices in coffeepathosystem of smallholder farms in Murang’a County, Kenya.
Gladys is currently based in a research laboratory in Africa while her admission into the University ofKwaZulu- Natal is in process.
The research was prompted by the gradual decline in coffee production and fluctuation of marketprices that affect smallholder farmers negatively.
The study therefore seeks to understand the driving factors of epidemiology in coffee pathosystem ofsmallholder farms by analyzing the spatial and temporal variability of pests and diseases occurrence in the study area; the key landscape and agro- ecological variables that influences the variability observed; howthe microclimate and host plant structure contribute to the observed variability; and the management practices that influence the occurrence of pests and diseases.
The results obtained will identify risks zones for targeted control, recommend best practices to beadopted and identify key ecological variables that can be used in early warning systems development andguiding farmers on micro-climate management specific to each agro-ecological zone, as an adaptationmechanism to climate change.
Ms Mosomtai has obtained the following awards and prizes: the African Regional PostgraduateProgramme in Insect Science (ARPPIS) Scholarship 2017, Dissertation Research Internship Programme(DRIP) scholarship (2015) and received a travel grant to Umea University in 2016. She is also author of nine publications.
Andrea Wilson (South Africa)
Title of Project
Sexual Reproduction in Huntiella Species
Ms. Andrea Wilson is a third year PHD student at The University of Pretoria focusing on BiologicalSciences. Her research is based on Sexual Reproduction in Huntiella Species.
Her research characterizes reproduction as an important part of the life cycle of many, many species. Thisis even true for fungi, where sex produces the spores that enable fungal spread. Thus, sexuallyreproducing fungi can be the result of serious disease outbreaks, whether they infect humans, animals orplants. Her research focuses on the unique ability of a plant disease-causing fungus to engage in asexual reproduction even without a partner. Understanding how it can do this will allow researchers to developbetter management and treatment strategies for disease outbreaks and epidemics. In this way, keep trees healthy.
In most recent years, Ms. Andrea has been awarded with the following awards: Genes Journal Travel Award,WhiteSci Travel Award, Best PhD Presentation at the South African Society of Microbiology Congress andin 2017 NRF Scarce skills scholarship for doctoral students, to name a few. She has also published sevenpublications.
Charlene Goosen (South Africa)
Title of Project
The effect of oral iron supplementation on the gut microbiome in HIV infected children.
Charlene Goosen is currently a PHD student at Stellenbosch University. Her research work is on the “effect of oral iron supplementation on the gut microbiome in HIV infected children”.
She explains that considering the adverse effects of iron fortification shown on the gut microbiome of HIV-uninfected children, it can be postulated that in HIV, adding excess iron to an already inflamed gut maycontribute to increased risk of pathogenic microbial translocation, immune activation and HIV disease progression.
To her knowledge, there is currently no data of the effect of iron supplementation (60mg ferroussulphate), a widely used therapeutic measure for correcting iron deficiency, on the gut microbiome in virally supressed HIV-infected children, nor has the gut microbiome been characterized in older childrenwith perinatal HIV infection and early onset ART, or in those with overlapping HIV infection and irondeficiency.
This PhD study aims to fill these knowledge gaps and to contribute to the rapidly expanding field of thehuman microbiome and its interactions with health and disease. This study will also describe thenutritional status (in relation to iron nutrition) of the participants. This is a unique opportunity to comparethe nutritional status of older children with perinatal HIV infection and early onset ART to the nutritionalstatus of HIV- uninfected children, with further comparisons in those with and without iron deficiency.
In 2011, Ms Goosen was awarded with the first prize for Academic Poster Presentation for Experiences offield workers employed by the Community Nutrition Security Research Project in the Breede Valley,Western Cape Province, South Africa. In 2006 she was also awarded an award for the Best Performance inNutrition Education and Health Promotion at the Stellenbosch University. She is also accredited to four publications and a book chapter.
Harshna Jivan (South Africa)
Title of Project
Study on the influence of Nuclear Deformation on the Pygmy Dipole Resonance in Samarium isotopes
Ms Harshna Jivan is a South African PhD student at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg,South Africa. Her doctoral research work is on the influence of Nuclear Deformation on the Pygmy Dipole Resonance in Samarium isotopes.
Ms Jivan’s work evolves around the investigation of collective motions in neutron-rich nuclei, which havestrong implications in the nucleosythesis of the elements in the universe and in the properties ofneutron stars. In this study, she aims to investigate how nuclear deformation, driven by an increase innumber of neutrons within the nuclei, influences the Pygmy Dipole Resonance (PDR) response. ThePygmy Dipole Resonance (PDR) mode in particular, is interpreted as a vibration whereby excess neutronsoscillate against a proton-neutron saturated core; however, its nature is still not well understood.
She was recently awarded the NRF Scarce Skills Doctoral scholarship and has previously won the ElementSix Diamond Research Lab & DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Strong Materials Gold Medal (for academicperformance in Physics Honours), Jan Loubser Memorial Prize (for best honours project in Physics) and PGMasters merit award. She has also won Conference Prizes for Oral Presentations the South AfricanInstitute of physics (SAIP) annual conferences, in the Nuclear, Radiation and Particle physics track. Ms Jivanis also author of seven publications.
Lerato Hlaka (South Africa)
Title of Project
Characterization of Minor Groove Binders (MGBs) as novel lead compounds and the use of non-ionicsurfactant vesicles (NIVs) to improve their efficacy for treatment of tuberculosis.
Ms. Lerato Hlaka is pursuing PhD at the University of Cape Town pursuing research on the characterizationof Minor Groove Binders (MGBs) as novel lead compounds and the use of non-ionic surfactant vesicles(NIVs) to improve their efficacy for treatment of tuberculosis.
Her project involves identifying the anti-mycobacterial activity of minor groove binder (MGB) compoundsas a foundation for the development of a novel inhalable drug formulation for the treatment oftuberculosis. The research has the potential to lead to the development of a novel effective anti-TBformulation which will be important to the benefits of the wider society suffering from anti-mycobacterialresistance, and holds promise for MGB as novel compound for future anti-TB therapy.
In 2017, she was selected as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South
Africans and has published two publications.
Madelein Wooding (South Africa)
Title of Project
Chemical communication between the malaria carrying mosquito, anopheles arabiensis, and its human host.
Madelein is pursuing a PhD at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Her research work on, “Chemicalcommunication between the malaria carrying mosquito, anopheles arabiensis, and its human host.”
The aim of the research is to identify chemical compounds on the human skin that attract mosquitoes andto employ the compounds either as a mosquito repellent or attractant. Repellent compounds can be usedas topical applications for mosquito control, whereas attractants can be employed in lure baited traps. The ultimate goal of the project is to supplement already established vector control programs by increasingthe tools available for combating malaria.
Ms Wooding recently won the following awards and sponsorships; the ChromSA Student Sponsorship forthe Analitika 2018 Conference, Top 10 poster selected for an oral presentation at the 3rd InternationalMass Spectrometry School, Dubrovnik, Croatia and subsidy award for the 3rd International MassSpectrometry School. She has also produced four publications.
Olanike Akinduyite (Nigeria)
Title of Project
Fingerprint Based Key-Binding Biometric Cryptosystem
Ms. Olanike Akinduyite is a PhD student at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria.Herresearch, “Fingerprint Based Key-Binding Biometric Cryptosystem,” is on biometric template protectionwith particular emphasis on fingerprint biometrics. One method for protecting biometric template is thebiometric cryptosystem which seeks to combine concepts from biometrics technology and traditionalcryptography to build a secure template database for authentication system to benefit from the strengthof both fields.
Biometric cryptosystem can only operate in two modes namely; key-binding and key- generation. Herresearch presents a key-binding approach to biometric cryptosystem which uses fingerprint on the fuzzyvault scheme.
In 2017, Ms Akinduyite received a Super Computing (SC17) Travel Grant, Denver, CO, U.S.A and has produced four publications in line with her studies.
Olaperi Okuboyejo (Nigeria)
Title of Project
Enhanced Automatic Feedback Generation for the Learning of Regular Expressions
Ms. Olaperi Okuboyejo is currently at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Her researchproject is aimed at developing a technique for the automatic generation of feedback for students learningregular expressions. Regular expression is a topic in Theory of Computation which is taught to ComputerScience students at different levels. It is used for pattern matching across several applications and omains, ranging from programming languages to web servers, search engines, and natural language processors.
In 2015, Ms Okuboyejo was awarded the Most Outstanding Graduating M.Sc. student, College of Scienceand Technology, Covenant University, has received the University of Witwatersrand Post Graduate MeritAward and was one of the two Regional winners who qualified to the next round of the Fame LabInternational Competition held at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She is also creditedtonine publications and a chapter.
Rima Beesoo (Mauritius)
Title of Project
An investigation of the biochemical characterisation, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anticarcinogenicpotentials of some selected marine invertebrate species
Ms. Rima Beesoo is currently a PhD student at the University of Mauritius. Her research is based on the“investigation of the biochemical characterisation, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anticarcinogenicpotentials of some selected marine invertebrate species.”
The research project focuses on the chemical composition and therapeutic effects of marine invertebrates(sponges, soft corals, jelly fish, tunicates and molluscs) collected from the Mascarene region of the SouthWest Indian Ocean (SWIO) with the aim to identify bioactive extracts/novel compounds with potential pharmaceutical applications. The study is directed particularly towards the discovery of novel marine natural products that show promising activity against infectious diseases and cancer. Overally, this study is an attempt to valorise the biomedical potential of marine invertebrates in the field of drug discovery.
In 2017, she received the UNESCO MARS Best African women researcher award, the African GermanNetwork of Excellence in Science Mobility Grant for Junior Scientists by German Federal Ministry ofEducation and Research and supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and in 2018, receiveda travelling grant offered by TWAS ROSSA for participation in TWAS/BioVisionAlexandria among others.Ms Beesoo has also published six publications and two chapters.
Shalena Naidoo (South Africa)
Title of Project
Longitudinal Perspective on the Impact of Immune Status on the HIV-1 Latent Reservoir andNeurocognitive Outcomes in Virologically Supressed Children.
Ms. Shalena Naidoo is currently pursuing her PhD studies at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
Her research “Longitudinal Perspective on the Impact of Immune Status on the HIV-1
Latent Reservoir and Neurocognitive Outcomes in Virologically Supressed Children”,
aims to inform us on how the immune system of children who are HIV positive at birth differs from otherchildren, and whether damage inflicted early persists after years of therapy and further delineate immune risk factors in the development of neurocognitive impairment and may suggest noveltherapies to minimize this risk in future.
This year, Ms Naidoo has received an AIDS 2018 Conference Scholarship Award and a Polio ResearchFoundation (PRF) Bursary Award. She has also previously won the South African Immunology Society (SAIS)Conference Scholarship Award and the SAIS Immunology Primer Training Scholarship Award among others. She has also publishes eight publications, mostly on HIV/AIDS.
Takalani Cele (South Africa)
Title of Project
Platinum Group Metals (PGM) Nano-Particles & Hybrid Nano-Composites by Gamma Radiolysis/EISA
Ms. Takalani Cele is a PhD student at The University of South Africa.
Her research, Platinum Group Metals (PGM) Nano-Particles & Hybrid Nano- Composites by GammaRadiolysis/EISA, focuses on the development of pure and
hybrid advanced 1-, 2- and/or 3-dimensional PGMs nano-composites by a versatile
novel hybrid nanotechnology-nuclear process: Radiolysis and Evaporation Induced Self Assembly (EISA). In this work she seeks to find a way to make use of the minerals that are widely available in South Africa.These nanoparticles can be of good use in different applications including cancer treatment. Otherapplications include catalysis to be used for water treatment.
In the years 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2014 she received the NRF Scholarship and in 2005, she qualified to bea member of Golden Key International Honour Society. Ms Cele also produced five publications in relationto metal nanoparticles.
2018 Post – Doctoral fellowship recipients
Dr. Maralize Everts (South Africa)
Title of Project
Heat transfer and pressure drop of high viscosity fluids in solar receiver tubes
Dr . Maralize Everts is currently pursuing her Post Doctorate at the University of Pretoria. Her primary post-doctoral project is on “Heat transfer and pressure drop of high viscosity fluids in solar receiver tubes.”
The purpose of this research is to conduct heat transfer and pressure drop experiments using water so as toimprove the fundamental understanding of mixed convention in developing and fully developed flow inthe laminar and transitional flows. The correlations that are developed will enable engineers to not onlydesign heat exchangers that operate in the transitional flow regime, but also to optimize the design of theheat exchangers that operate in the laminar flow. This work will make it possible for engineers to betteroptimize heat transfare equipment used in the generation of energy.
She has received over 20 awards and most recently received a TATA Africa Scholarships for Women inScience, Engineering and Technology. She has four publications that are in the in process of beingpublished, five published publications and six conference papers.
Dr. Priscilla Kolibea Mante (Ghana)
Title of Project
Anticonvulsant Activity of Cryptolepine and its Solid-Lipid Nanoparticles in the Management of Neurocysticercosis-Induced Epilepsy.
Ms. Priscilla Mante is a Post-Doctoral student at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology(KNUST) pursuing research on “Anticonvulsant Activity of Cryptolepine and its Solid-Lipid Nanoparticles inthe Management of Neurocysticercosis-Induced Epilepsy.”
This project aims to develop a nanoparticle formulation of the plant isolate, cryptolepine, that possessesimproved permeability into the central nervous system (CNS).
This improved delivery into the CNS will enhance its activity as an anticonvulsant and potential cysticidalagent to be used in the management of neurocysticercosis- induced epilepsy (i.e. Her project focuses onfinding alternate therapeutic options for management of the pharmaco-resistant epilepsy and theneglected tropical disease, neurocysticercosis).
Ms Mante has received the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars Fellowship Award as wellan International Brain Research Organization Teaching Tools in Neuroscience Grant. She is also author of a total of 17 publications (submitted and in progress