Nigeria’s Funmi Fagbola, Mercy Bankole Win L’Oréal-UNESCO Science Awards

Two Nigerian female scientists — Mercy Bankole and Funmilola Fagbola — have been awarded the 2019 Young Talents Sub-Saharan Africa Awards alongside 18 other female researchers.

The award is sponsored jointly by Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO For Women in Science programme.

Mercy Temitope Bankole is a post-doctoral researcher at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State. She majors in Chemistry, with a research project on ‘Healing open wounds faster and better thanks to a nanocomposite.’

Funmilola Fagbola is a doctoral candidate at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology’s department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering. Her research project focuses on ‘Detecting misinformation with proof and deep learning models, and nature-inspired algorithms.’

Each doctoral student awardee received €10,000; while each post-doctoral student awardee got €15,000.

The awardees also benefited from a four-day training designed to give them more resources to pursue their careers.

The four-day training course, given by international experts selected by the Fondation L’Oréal, covered different dimensions such as leadership, management, negotiation, public speaking, media training and personal branding, the Press release announcing their awards added.

The award, which held in Dakar, Senegal, last Thursday, was part of the 10th edition of its regional programme For Women in Science.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Vice-President of the Fondation L’Oréal, Alexandra Palt, said, “The number of women in Science is not yet significant: only 2.4%1 of the world’s researchers are African scientists, of whom 30% are women. Through the Young Talents Awards for SubSaharan Africa, we promote and support the continent’s remarkable female researchers.

“They play a key role to develop inclusive research in Africa, for Africa and conducted by Africans.”

According to the Press release distributed by the Chief of Project Rosine Zadi, the 20 awardees were drawn from 15 countries and comprised computer scientists, engineers and biologists.

“They prove the diversity and crucial role of women’s scientific research on the continent,” the release said.

They were awarded in front of high-level audience from all over Africa.

They included First Lady of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mrs. Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi; Minister of Higher Education,

Research and Innovation of Senegal, Mr. Sheikh Oumar Anne; Regional Director of UNESCO West Africa (Sahel), Dimitri Sanga; and CEO Kudirat Initiative for Democracy, Hafsat Abiola, among others.

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