Daubechies Named North American Laureate of 2019 L’Oréal-UNESCO International Award For Women in Science

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Award presented annually since 1998 to five outstanding women in chemistry, physics, materials science, mathematics and computer science

Ingrid Daubechies
Daubechies Named North American Laureate of 2019 L’Oréal-UNESCO International Award For Women in Science

In celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, L’Oréal USA today announced the selection of Professor Ingrid Daubechies as the North American Laureate for the 2019 International Award For Women in Science. Professor Daubechies will be awarded with €100,000 for her exceptional research in Mathematics and honored at an awards ceremony in Paris on March 14, 2019.

Rooted in the belief that the world needs science and science needs women, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program, established in 1998, annually honors five outstanding women scientists from around the world for their contributions to the sciences, in fields including chemistry, physics, materials science, mathematics and computer science.   

Professor Daubechies is an accomplished physicist and applied mathematician; she currently holds the title of Professor of Mathematics at Duke University. Daubechies is being honored for her remarkable research on wavelet theory—transforming the numerical treatment of images and signals for data compression and creating a new universal language for scientists and researchers. Wavelet theory has broad implications, including enabling the reconstruction of early Hubble Telescope images, the electronic sharing of highly detailed fingerprints, detection of forged documents, the rise of digital cinema and medical imaging.

Professor Daubechies will be honored alongside four Laureates, these exceptional women are recognised for the excellence of their research in the fields of material science, mathematics and computer science:

  • Africa and the Arab States: Professor Najat Aoun Saliba for her research in analytical and atmospheric chemistry;
  • Asia PacificProfessor Maki Kawai for her work in chemistry;
  • Latin AmericaProfessor Karen Hallberg for her research in condensed matter physics; and
  • EuropeProfessor Claire Voisin for her research in algebraic geometry.

In the domain of scientific research, the glass ceiling is still a reality: only 28% of researchers are women,1 11% of senior academic roles are held by women2 and just 3% of Nobel Prizes for science have been awarded to women. The highest ranks in the mathematics field are particularly devoid of women; in recognizing mathematics and computer science with the International Award for the first time, the L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO seek to reinforce their efforts to empower women across all scientific fields.

“L’Oréal is proud to honor Professor Daubechies for her outstanding achievements and ground-breaking work in mathematics,” said Lauren Paige, Vice President of Public Affairs and Strategic Initiatives at L’Oréal USA. “For over 21 years, L’Oréal has worked tirelessly to advance women in science and this new inclusion of computer science and mathematics has only strengthened this commitment.”

Professor Daubechies has been a trailblazer for women in mathematics, having become the first female ‘full professor’ of mathematics at Princeton University and the first woman researcher to be president of the International Mathematical Union. She received the medal of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2000 and is committed to fighting for women’s access to science and education in developing countries.

“In math, we always seek to understand magical things,” says Professor Ingrid Daubechies, “I hope that my work will also be instrumental in helping people see that mathematics is everywhere.”

Since 1998, the L’Oréal Foundation, in partnership with UNESCO, has worked to improve the representation of women in scientific careers. In its 21 years, the For Women in Science program has supported and raised the profile of 107 laureates and more than 3,000 talented young scientists in 117 countries.