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L'Oreal-Unesco awards doctoral fellowship to Wits student

- Wits University

Olawumi Sadare, a Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering PhD student at Wits has been awarded a doctoral fellowship by L'Oreal-Unesco.

Sadare was among 14 young female scientists across Sub-Saharan Africa celebrated at the 2017 edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Sub-Saharan Africa ceremony held in Johannesburg on 8 November 2017. They were honoured for their work and impact in the scientific field.  

Her doctoral research work is on: Development and Evaluation of Adsorption coupling Bio-desulphurization (AD/BDS) process for the desulphurization of South African Petroleum Distillates.

The aim of her study is to develop and evaluate a hybrid process (AD/BDS) for the desulphurization of South African petroleum products (e.g. diesel) to obtain ultra-low sulphur content. Her research adds on to the few studies that have been reported on the bio-desulphurization of South African petroleum distillates.

Sandeep Rai, Managing Director, L’Oréal South Africa and Olawumi Sadare, Wits PhD Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering student

Since 1998, the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation and UNESCO have been committed to women in science and to increasing the number of women working in scientific research. 150 years after Marie Curie’s birth, still only 28% of researchers are women and only 3% of Scientific Nobel Prizes are awarded to them.

For the past 19 years, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme has worked to honour and accompany women researchers at key moments in their careers.Since the programme began, it has supported more than 2,700 young women from 115 countries and celebrated 97 Laureates, at the peak of their careers, including Professors Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Ada Yonath, who went on to win a Nobel Prize. The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Sub-Saharan Africa programme was launched in 2010. 

Sandeep Rai, Managing Director, L’Oréal South Africa highlighted the power of these women scientists and the women scientists who have been celebrated this year. “The world continues to face unprecedented challenges such as climate change, water scarcity, illnesses and food security among other issues.  Only a shared, controlled science, at the service of the world’s population, is able to meet the major challenges of the twenty-first century, and our researchers are the proof.”

About the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation

Accompany, value, communicate, support and move boundaries. These convictions are the core values which drive the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation’s commitment to women every day. A commitment divided into two main areas - science and beauty. Through its’ For Women in Science programme, the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation motivates girls in High School to pursue scientific careers, supports women researchers and rewards excellence in a field where women remain underrepresented. Through its beauty programmes, the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation assists women affected by illness, who are economically disadvantaged or isolated, to recover their sense of self-esteem and femininity in order to feel better and to fare better. Its’ actions also include providing training programmes for beauty industry professions.


Since its creation in 1945, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization supports international scientific cooperation as a catalyst for sustainable development and for peace between people. UNESCO assists countries in the development of their public policies and bin building their capabilities in the fields of science, technology, innovation and scientific education. In addition, UNESCO leads several intergovernmental programmes for the sustainable management of freshwater, ocean and terrestrial resources, for biodiversity protection and to promote science’s role in combating climate change and natural disasters. To meet these goals, UNESCO is committed to ending discrimination of all kinds and to promoting equality between women and men.

Four tiers of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme:

  1.  L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureate Awards: Only five women globally – one leading woman per continent - receive this prestigious award every year and these outstanding scientists are known as Laureates. The award is for accomplished scientists who are honoured for their impact in the field of science. 
  2. L’Oréal-UNESCO International Rising Talents recognises the fifteen best fellows each year selected among the winners of the national or regional fellowships covering each of the five regions: Africa & Arab States, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America.
  3. L’Oréal–UNESCO National Fellowship Programme: These fellowships anchor the For Women in Science programme in 47 countries around the world where L’Oréal has a subsidiary, and thus assures the management and promotion of the programme.
  4. In 2010, the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science partnership started the For Women in Science Regional Fellowships including the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Sub-Saharan Africa Fellowship programme. The objective of the Regional Fellowships is to bring support to young women pursuing scientific careers in dozens of countries throughout the world where L’Oréal does not have a subsidiary.  The Sub-Saharan Africa Fellowship programme covers 49 countries.