BATSWANA WOMEN SCOOP L’OREAL-UNESCO FOR WOMEN IN SCIENCE AWARDS

- Two Batswana women Scientists win Doctorate awards and receive €10,000.00 each - Chosen with 18 other African Women Researchers highlighted for their scientific excellence

BATSWANA WOMEN SCOOP L’OREAL-UNESCO FOR WOMEN IN SCIENCE AWARDS

Two young Batswana women, LaToya Seoke and Tsaone Tamuhla, have been awarded an opportunity to become doctors through the L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Awards 2020, an initiative that rewards 20 women researchers in sub-Saharan Africa for the academic excellence of their work.

The local winners each received €10,000.00 during the 11th Sub-Saharan Africa Young Talent Awards.  Coming from 16 countries, the 15 PhD students and five post-doctorates embody, through their backgrounds and research subjects, all the diversity and potential of tomorrow's African science.

Acknowledging the two young women’s achievements, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr. Douglas Letsholathebe, said the importance of research cannot be over-emphasised, particularly in Botswana’s mission to transform the economy from resource-based to a knowledge-based economy.

“We are delighted to have women take the stage and inspire other young researchers to pursue research projects that can help us solve some of the challenges we face today,” he said. 

The CEO of Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH), Alan Boshwaen, said BIH embraced the L’Oreal-UNESCO for women in science awards initiative and promoted the call for applications from Batswana scientists.

“Early this year, BIH collaborated with the L’Oréal Foundation and worked on a campaign to promote the call for applications as part of the Hub’s mandate to facilitate research and innovation,” he said, adding that working with academic institutions and special focus groups of women scientists and past winners, BIH mobilised a significant number of participants to enter the competition.

Through submission of their work, the applicants had to demonstrate the impact that their research will have on society at large.

Seoke is a PhD Student in Biological Sciences with a qualification from Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She is focused on the development of diagnostic tools to detect the foot-and-mouth disease virus, which is highly present in goats in southern Africa. The control and possible eradication of the disease, considered as the most important livestock disease on the African continent from a financial point of view, would have a significant impact on the economies of many sub-Saharan countries. Through her research, Seoke hopes to contribute more generally to the eradication of infectious diseases in Africa.

Tamuhla, also a PhD Student in Computer and Information Science with a qualification in Computational Biology form the University of Cape Town in South Africa, is collecting clinical and genetic data to better understand the emerging pandemic of Type 2 Diabetes in Africa. Given that most research has focused on the role of lifestyle in the occurrence of the disease, the genetic factors in African populations are still poorly known. Tamuhla believes that the barriers faced by women scientists in Africa testify to their resilience and the fundamental importance that their contribution may have for research.

Seoke and Tamuhla are joining the community of 3,400 women researchers around the world who have been supported by the For Women in Science programme since its creation in 1998. Thanks to these Awards, young women researchers are receiving financial support, through grants of €10,000 for PhD students and €15,000 for post-doctorates in order to enable them to pursue and consolidate their research work.

Speaking of the nominations, Executive Vice President of L'Oréal Foundation, Alexandra Palt, said the need for research by Africans for Africa has never been greater to address the challenges facing the continent.

“To overcome the current crisis, Africa's research sector must accelerate its transformation by becoming even more digitally connected and empowering young women who wish to pursue scientific careers,” he said.

The L’Oréal Foundation works for the benefit of women around the world, supporting them and enabling them to achieve their goals in two major areas that sit at the heart of the group’s culture, scientific research and inclusive beauty.