New Zealand scientist Dr. Zoe Hilton has been awarded a prestigious L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship. She is one of 15 exceptional women worldwide to receive the award in 2012.
Based in Paris and now in its 14th year, the annual L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science awards recognise and support women scientists whose research contributes to moving science forward.
Dr. Hilton is from Nelson's renowned Cawthron Institute. She wins a Fellowship Award worth US$40,000 for her investigation in to the captive breeding of one of our country's most-loved delicacies - the flat (Bluff) oyster.
Wild stocks of the oyster are under enormous pressure from over-fishing, pollution and disease and Dr. Hilton's research will provide economic and environmental benefits for countries where oysters are farmed. Aquaculture is an area of growing importance both in New Zealand and internationally to ensure the long-term sustainability of the world's oceans and resources.
As founding sponsor of the international awards, the L'Oréal Foundation sees the awards as a means of inspiring new scientific vocations while overcoming the gender gap in the world of science. L'Oréal New Zealand spokesperson Tanya Abbott says Dr. Hilton's research is significant in today's landscape.
"We are thrilled to see a New Zealand woman internationally recognised for scientific excellence and for her contribution to society. We recognise advances in science as being integral to many industries - including our own."
The L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowships are granted to young women researchers, three from each of five geo-cultural regions of UNESCO. Three New Zealanders have been awarded Fellowships in the past. The sole New Zealand winner of a Laureate is the University of Auckland's Professor Margaret Brimble who won it in 2007.
An international network of nearly 1,000 scientists nominated the candidates in this year's Awards. Five Laureates and 15 Fellows were then selected by an independent, international jury.
Since 1998, the L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards have recognised 72 Laureates and 1,200 Fellowships in 103 countries. All of them are exceptional women who have made great advances in scientific research. Two of them have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize.
Dr.Hilton intends to use the funds to study at Spain's renowned Institute for Food & Agriculture Research.