These five outstanding women scientists have given the world a better understanding of how nature works. Their pioneering research and discoveries have changed the way we think in various areas of the physical sciences and opened new frontiers in science and technology. Such key developments have the potential to transform our society. Their work, their dedication, serves as an inspiration to us all.
Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General

Professor Marcia Barbosa, Laureate for Latin America


Water can behave in unusual and unexpected ways. Since it covers nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s surface and makes up over half of the human body, pinpointing exactly how water acts, and why, when it does the unexpected is key to advancing knowledge in nearly every field of science. Professor Marcia Barbosa’s years of research into the anomalous behavior of water could have an enormous impact on our understanding of a host of natural phenomena, ranging from earthquakes to human proteins.

Professor Pratibha L. Gai, Laureate for Europe


Some of the most groundbreaking achievements in the annals of science have been made by people who invented ways to see what cannot be seen with the naked eye. Pratibha Gai, a professor at the University of York (UK), is among the relatively few scientists in history who can lay claim to such a key advancement. Her truly ingenious modifications to electron microscopes enable us to actually see chemical processes at the atomic level that were once completely mysterious. Her fundamental research promises a plethora of potential applications for an immense range of scientific, technological and economic solutions.

Professor Deborah S. Jin, Laureate for North America


Professor Deborah Jin and her team invented an ingenious method of cooling molecules down to near absolute zero, the lowest possible temperature – which has the effect of slowing them down. In fact, they slow down enough for researchers to actually see what goes on during chemical reactions. The study of ultra-cold molecules could lead to new precision-measurement tools, new methods for quantum computing and help us better understand materials that are essential to technology.

Professor Reiko Kuroda, Laureate for Asia-Pacific


All living and non-living things, even the smallest components of our bodies, exhibit either right-handedness or left-handedness. Professor Reiko Kuroda (University of Sciences of Tokyo, Japan) invented several novel instruments for studying the effects of such handedness on a variety of physical and biological systems. Her basic research at the molecular level, whether biological or non-biological, has important implications for manufacturing drugs and agricultural chemicals, as well as for the study of gene-determining animal body asymmetry, such as snail coiling.

Professor Francisca Okeke, Laureate for Africa and the Arab States


High above the Earth’s surface - between 50km to 1,000km - is the ionosphere, the subject of Professor Francisca Okeke’s lifetime of study. A very thick layer of charged particles, the ionosphere produces changes in the magnetic field on Earth’s surface that affect the planet in a host of ways. Her research could lead to a better understanding of climate change and help pinpoint sources of dramatic phenomena like tsunamis and earthquakes.