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Unesco Honors Five Women for Scientific Research

Scientists from Australia, Mexico, South Africa, Britain and the United States working in research fields connected to health issues have been chosen the 2012 winners of the Women in Science Award given jointly by Unesco and the L’Oreal cosmetics company.

The scientists who were chosen, each to receive a $100,000 prize, were selected by an independent panel of leading global scientists. The awards, which have been given annually since 1998, will be presented in March in Paris.

The American, Bonnie Bassler, professor of molecular biology at Princeton University, was recognized for her work on chemical communications between bacteria. The Australian, Ingrid Scheffer, chairwoman of pediatric neurology and research at the University of Melbourne, has identified genes involved in some forms of epilepsy.

Jill Farrant, from South Africa, is a winner of the Women in Science Award from Unesco and L'Oreal.

Susana López, the Mexican winner, who teaches developmental genetic and molecular physiology at the National University of Cuernavaca, won for investigating how rotaviruses cause the death of 600,000 children annually. Jill Farrant from South Africa, research chairwoman in the department of molecular and cell biology at the University of Cape Town, is working on the survival of plants in drought conditions. And Frances Ashcroft of Britain, a research professor in the department of physiology, anatomy and genetics at Oxford University, won for advancing knowledge of insulin secretion and neonatal diabetes.

A news release from Unesco says that a network of nearly 1,000 scientists nominates candidates for the awards, given for their impact on society. Günter Blobel, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1999, is chairman of the jury that makes the final selection.

“Their research is truly original, and each is among the best in five distinct regions of the world,” Blobel said of the 2012 winners.

Barbara Crossette is the senior consulting editor and writer for PassBlue and the United Nations correspondent for The Nation. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She has also contributed to the Oxford Handbook on the United Nations.

Previously, Crossette was the UN bureau chief for The New York Times from 1994 to 2001 and previously its chief correspondent in Southeast Asia and South Asia. She is the author of “So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas,” “The Great Hill Stations of Asia” and a Foreign Policy Association study, “India Changes Course,” in the Foreign Policy Association’s “Great Decisions 2015.”

Crossette won the George Polk award for her coverage in India of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and the 2010 Shorenstein Prize for her writing on Asia.

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