Female Nigerian professor to receive L’Oreal-UNESCO Award

by Rachel Ogbu

Professor Francisca Nneka Okeke of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka is among five women who will receive the 15th L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women In Science (WIN) awards in 2013.

Okeke was chosen for her significant contributions to the understanding of daily variations of the ion currents in the upper atmosphere which may further our understanding of climate change.

According to reports, five scientists were chosen for their researches which demonstrated “exceptionally original approaches to fundamental research in the Physical Sciences, from contributing to better understanding of climate change, to advancing research on neurodegenerative diseases and potentially uncovering new energy sources”.

The laureates are  Professor Pratibha Gai of the University of York (UK); “for ingeniously modifying her electron microscope so that she was able to observe chemical reactions occurring at surface atoms of catalysts which will help scientists in their development of new medicines or new energy sources.”

Professor Reiko Kuroda, Tokyo University of Science (Japan); “for discovering the functional importance of the difference between left handed and right-handed molecules which has wide applications including research on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Professor Marcia Barbosa, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre (Brazil); “for discovering one of the peculiarities of water which may lead to better understanding of how earthquakes occur and how proteins fold which is important for the treatment of diseases.”

Professor Deborah Jin, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and University of Colorado, Boulder (USA); “for having been the first to cool down molecules so much that she can observe chemical reactions in slow motion which may help further understanding of molecular processes which are important for medicine or new energy sources.”

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