Women scientists from the WIO sweep AU awards

Women scientists from Mauritius and South Africa made us proud this week by sweeping the African Union Women Scientists Regional Awards. These were presented in Addis Abba on Wednesday 9th September. The five women researchers, each of whom won a prize of US$ 20,000, are two from Mauritius, two from South Africa and one from Egypt.

Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (photo), a Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Mauritius, and who was Chair in Organic Chemistry won the prize in the Earth and Life Sciences Sector for creating the first full database of the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of Mauritius between 1994-1997 (this was published in the form of 4 book volumes) and in 1999-2000, a similar database for the medicinal plants of the Indian Ocean Islands both in English and French. Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim had previously won the AU’s Special Award – Outstanding Contribution to Science and Role Model for African Women Scientists in April this year and in 2007 she received the prestigious International Award L’Oreal-UNESCO: ‘Women in Science for Africa’

Professor Romeela Mohee, the Chair in Chemical and Environmental Engineering, also at the University of Mauritius and the first female dean of Faculty of Engineering at that University, won the prize in the Basic Science, Technology and Innovation Sector for research on waste management practices. Her research led to the development of low cost-engineering solutions for the benefit of the society, says the AU.

Congratulations to these two amazing researchers from our sister island. It demonstrates that outstanding research work can be achieved in universities in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Dr. Lee-Anne McKinnell and Dr. Brenda Diana Wingfield, from South Africa won the same prize in the two respective sectors for contributions in areas of space science and research on the molecular phylogeny and taxonomy of tree photogenic fungi, respectively.

Egyptian Sanaa S. Botros, Professor of Pharmacology at the Egyptian Ministry of Scientific Research was selected for the Earth and Life Science Sector for her research on tropical diseases medication.

Jan, Potočnik, European Union Commissioner for Science and Research and Professor Jean-Pielle Ezin, African Union Commissioner for Human Resource, Science and Technology presented these prestigious awards as part of the “African Union scientific Awards programme” which targets young researchers at African Union Member State Level, women at regional level and outstanding scientists at continental level.

The awards acknowledged the contribution of the researchers to progress in science and are expected to raise the profile of women and young researchers.