The names of the four young Portuguese researchers awarded in the 17th edition of the L'Oréal Portugal Medals of Honor for Women in Science were revealed today, February 24, in an online award ceremony. The winners are Joana Carvalho from the Champalimaud Foundation, Margarida Abrantes from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Inês Fragata from the Center for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Change (cE3c) - Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon and Liliana Tomé from the Faculty of Sciences and Technology, New University of Lisbon. The awarded researchers, with PhDs between 28 and 37 years old, were selected among 97 candidates by a scientific jury chaired by Alexandre Quintanilha. Each of the award winners received a cash prize of 15 thousand Euros.
This initiative originates from a partnership between L'Oréal and UNESCO, signed in 1998, "L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science". In 2004, the L'Oréal Portugal Medals of Honor for Women in Science were created in Portugal, an initiative that brings together L'Oréal Portugal, the UNESCO National Commission and the FCT - Foundation for Science and Technology. In 16 years, 57 young female researchers have been awarded in Portugal.
Winners of the 17th edition of the L'Oréal Portugal Medals of Honor for Women in Science:
28 years old
Researcher at Champalimaud Foundation
About 20% of the human brain is dedicated to vision, but does this ability to process visual information remain after vision loss? This is one of the questions posed by Joana Carvalho who, with her now distinguished project, wants to understand how the adult brain reorganizes itself to respond to situations of vision loss, what factors favor it and how this restructuring occurs over time. The answers he seeks are essential to understand how the plasticity of the brain works in these adults who can no longer see. With a PhD in computational neuroscience from the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, Joana Carvalho is a researcher at the Champalimaud Foundation's "Preclinical Magnetic Resonance Group".
37 years old
Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra
Are people with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome more sensitive to the ionizing radiation they are exposed to during diagnostic examinations? Inherited breast and ovarian cancer syndrome results from a mutation in the BRCA genes. Those who inherit it have a greater family history of cancer and an increased likelihood of developing cancer. Once identified, these individuals are subject to regular surveillance, namely through diagnostic imaging techniques, but these tests involve exposure to ionizing radiation. What Margarida Abrantes intends to understand, with her now distinguished project, is if people with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome, and specifically those with a BRCA2 gene mutation, may be more sensitive to the effects of radiation, in comparison to individuals without this mutation. Margarida Abrantes got her PhD in Health Sciences, in 2013, and is currently a professor at the same institution where she studied, the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra.
35 years old
Researcher at cE3c - Center for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Change, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon
What impacts does cadmium in the soil have on the plants that absorb it and on the herbivores that feed on them? In an attempt to answer these and several other questions about the impacts that heavy metals in the soil have on agricultural crops and their ecosystems, Inês Fragata will focus on a specific case and study the impacts of cadmium on tomato crops and on spider mites, tiny herbivores that feed on hundreds of plant species - including tomatoes and many other important agricultural crops - devastating them. Inês Fragata received her PhD in Evolutionary Biology in 2015 from the Faculty of Science, University of Lisbon, and returned to this institution in 2019 as a researcher at cE3c, after three years at the Gulbenkian Science Institute.
35 years old
Researcher at LAQV-REQUIMTE - Associate Laboratory for Green Chemistry, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, New University of Lisbon
How can we more effectively isolate and capture the CO2 released in power plants, preventing it from escaping into the atmosphere? The increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts they cause - from rising temperatures and extreme weather events to the rise and acidification of the oceans - make it urgent to reduce emissions and find more efficient ways to capture the gases we emit, namely carbon dioxide (CO2). Liliana Tomé earned her PhD in Engineering and Technology Sciences at the António Xavier Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology (ITQB NOVA) in 2014, and stayed at this institute as a researcher. In 2018, after being awarded a Marie Curie individual fellowship, she headed to POLYMAT, at the Universidad del País Vasco, and in 2020 she returned to Universidade Nova.