Three scientists won honors for their contributions in materials sciences

Adriana Serquis, Silvia Ceré and María Luján Ferreira were honored at the new edition of the L’Oréal UNESCO “For Women in Science” award.

Three scientists won honors for their contributions in materials sciences

Salvarezza, Higonet, Serquis, Barañao and Zimet during the ceremony. [Photo: CONICET]

The Minister of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, Lino Barañao with the president of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), Roberto Salvarezza; the national senator of the province of La Pampa, María de los Ángeles Higonet; and the general director of L´Oreal Argentina, Marcelo Zimet, led the ceremony for the eighth edition of the L'Oreal - UNESCO award "For Women in Science" in collaboration with the CONICET. The winner was Adriana Serquis, who hold a PhD in Physics and is an independent researcher of the (CONICET) in the Materials Characterization Department, Bariloche Atomic Center dependent of the National Atomic Energy Commission. Also, two mentions were awarded to Silvia Ceré and María Luján Ferreira, for their research in materials science.

During the ceremony, the minister Barañao remarked that “years ago, emotion was not a frequent component in science, it was something more rational, abstract and far from the feeling" and he added that it was changing with the increased presence of women in science because "women bring emotion and concern for others to science". Later, the portfolio head said that “the ethical review role given by the affection and feeling of women in scientific activities is vital for the development of the role of science in society”.  

Meanwhile, Salvarezza indicated that the awarded scientists “are women who take science as a way of living and they are devoted themselves to advanced research in order to provide solutions for things that matter to society”. In this sense, the head of the CONICET remarked the work of Serquis when considering that “it is within a priority area for the country” and he added that “her research points the way towards a rational use of our resources and promotes the development of clean and non-polluting technologies”.

 Adriana Serquis won the prize for her project “Advanced techniques for the characterization of materials for clean energies”. Her research aims to optimizing the materials used in clean (non-polluting) technologies, to reduce energy costs and preserve the environment. The project aims to enhance the development of capabilities for the characterization, which will enable researchers to find the ideal combination of compounds optimizing performance and stability in the long term to generate electric power.

"I am part of the research team that seeks to develop characterization and optimization methods of materials used in the generation of sustainable energy. "I have always been interested in this area and I think that in the long term, this approach will be the most efficient to adopt for a rational use of our resources", said Serquis, who studied at the University of Buenos Aires but once completed his studies, she decided to live in Patagonia to establish his family, his workplace in the scientific scope and focusing in teaching.

Regarding to the award, Serquis said that “it took me a couple of hours to internalize the news. I am very shy therefore I find it difficult to deal with the interviews and its significance, however, at the same time, it really gratifying for me and also at the same time it means a financial aid (the team will receive a grant for AR$ 150,000) to improve our resources, supplies and also in the promotion of our scientific contribution, which is usually forgotten and still very important".

Finally, the awarded researcher thanked the whole team which is composed by 60% of women scientists and said that “"within the field of experimental sciences, it is important to dismiss the idea of the lone scientist, because there is always a team working together to achieve results”.

Silvia Ceré, who holds a PhD in Materials Science, is an independent researcher of the CONICET at the Research Institute of Materials Science and Technology (INTEMA, CONICET-UNMDP), she received an honorable mention for her project “Modification in the micro and nana scale of metal surfaces for biomedical purposes: osseointegrable materials”. The aim for her research is to develop in Argentina biomaterials to minimize the number of failures of orthopedic and dental prostheses, and to favor its integration to the adjacent bone tissue.“"In the future, our work could have a great social impact”, the researcher commented. “Prostheses are high value added products in the market. It would be very interesting to have a national industry to scale these products”, Ceré added.

To develop her research, Cere and her team work side-by-side with professionals in the area of orthopedics and dentistry. Also, from over a decade they have been working with the Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology of the Hospital Interzonal General de Agudos (HIGA) of Mar del Plata. “They inform us about the problems they encounter in their practice. We attended surgical procedures to learn how is the protocol to insert prosthesis in order to develop a material to be used in a surgical procedure. It is also part of another phase of the study, a very important one”, indicated Ceré.

María Luján Ferreira, who has a PhD in chemistry and is a CONICET principal researcher at the Chemical Engineering Pilot Plant (PLAPIQUI) also won an honorable mention. Her project "Combination of nano and biotechnology in the use of magnetic materials as adsorbents or support" aims to achieve nanometric particles of magnetite able to immobilizing enzymes, adsorb pollutants from watery solutions and help to direct drugs via the application of a magnetic field (as part of sophisticated drug dosage system).

As the researcher explained, the team works on nanoscale, with tiny particles. “At that size, particles tend to group so we try to divide them and control their size and shape. In the long term, with these particles we have a dream: to achieve in ten or twenty years, that what we research in the laboratory be used to solve social problems, such as its application in drugs for cancer patients, as absorbents for heavy metals or in other issues of daily life”.

With the $15,000 received for the mention, the team coordinated by Ferreira will finance the acquisition of new supplies for her laboratory as well as travel grants for courses and conferences for the fellows. “It was something very useful for me at the time and I think it will be very significant for the training of all who aim to have a scientific career", the awarded researcher highlighted.

About the award

The National L’Oréal-UNESCO Award “For Women in science”, in collaboration with the CONICET, was launched in 2007 and its objective is to recognize and support the excellence in women’s work in science and to promote the participation of women in science throughout Argentina. The award is addressed to PhD women under 50 years old conducting a research in Argentina. This year, the call was addressed to projects focused in "Materials Sciences", including disciplines from Exact and Natural Sciences (Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Mathematics and Computer Science, Earth, Water and Atmosphere Sciences) Agricultural, Engineering and Materials Sciences (Agricultural Sciences, Habitat, IT, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and Related Engineering, Process Engineering and Biotechnology).

National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET)
  • Three scientists won honors for their contributions in materials sciences
  • Three scientists won honors for their contributions in materials sciences
  • Three scientists won honors for their contributions in materials sciences
  • Three scientists won honors for their contributions in materials sciences
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Three scientists won honors for their contributions in materials sciences

Salvarezza, Higonet, Serquis, Barañao and Zimet during the ceremony. [Photo: CONICET]

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