The talented Bulgarian women were awarded under the program “For Women in Science” by L’Oréal and UNESCO

Dr. Iskra Koleva, Dr. Radoslava Bekova and Lyubov Georgieva are this year’s recipients of the national fellowship “For Women in Science” for Bulgaria. The prestigious award was given to them for their innovative scientific ideas at an official online ceremony today with the special participation of Mrs. Iliana Iotova, Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria and Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Sofia Municipality. This is another year in which the two ladies support with their presence the cause of L’Oréal and UNESCO for more women in science.

The fellowships “For Women in Science” are one of the most anticipated and prestigious scientific awards in Bulgaria, which this year celebrate their 10th anniversary. The awards, which are given each year to young women scientists, aim to support their research careers as well as motivate them to reach their full potential for scientific discovery. This year’s three winners were honored for their innovative research projects with a prize of 5 000 euros each.

The project with which Dr. Radoslava Bekova impressed the jury of “For Women in Science 2020”, was focused on studying the degree of pollution on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast and beaches and identifying the sources of this pollution. Basically, the project aims to limit one of the biggest polluters today – plastic. This makes Dr. Bekova’s research not only extremely relevant but also of particular local and regional importance. At the moment she is a senior assistant at the Institute of Oceanology at BAS-Varna. Dr. Bekova is also the first winner of the fellowship “For Women in Science” with a career in the maritime capital, and she has won 2 high distinctions for scientific achievements in the field of climate change and hazards.

Dr. Iskra Koleva is the name of the second laureate of the programme “For Women in Science” this year. She is a capable young chemist and is currently a senior assistant at the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. The project with which Dr. Koleva won the fellowship “For Women in Science” for 2020 is aimed at studying the properties of catalysts and reducing harmful emissions into the environment. Basically, the study aims to reduce pollution and harmful emissions into the air in our country, which is a particularly pressing problem. Currently, Sofia ranks in the top 10 in the world of cities with the dirtiest air. This makes the scientific activity of Dr. Koleva of great local importance and with high potential for applicability.

The third fellowship holder for 2020 is Lyubov Marinkova who is an incredibly talented astrophysicist and is a member of the only star formation group in Bulgaria at the Department of Astronomy of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. Her interest in science dates back to early childhood because of the amount of science fiction her parents read to her. The project with which she won the fellowship “For Women in Science” is focused on studying the origin and evolution of stars and aims to answer the question: “Why and how are stars born?” A question of increased difficulty which is the subject of interest and research by scientists around the world.

This year the fellowship programme “For Women in Science” is held in Bulgaria for the 10th anniversary time in partnership between L’Oréal Bulgaria, SU “St. Kliment Ohridski” and the National Commission for UNESCO – Bulgaria. For these 10 years, the programme has managed to establish itself as one of the most prestigious scientific competitions in the country and to honor 27 magnificent ladies for their impressive scientific potential, achievements and love of research with a total prize fund of 135 000 euros.

Since its inception in 1998 and to this day, “For Women in Science” has continued to be the only global program of its kind to fight for gender equality in science (women still make up only 29% * of researchers worldwide). Over the past 22 years, “For Women in Science” has supported and honored more than 3 100 women scientists in 117 countries.

“The past 10 years have been extremely successful for the programme “For Women in Science” in Bulgaria! 10 great years of discovering, encouraging and paying due attention to the great talent of Bulgarian women in science! So far, the initiative has honored 27 ladies, 27 amazing research careers and 27 world-class research projects! I would like to thank all those who support the cause of “Women in Science” – a cause that L’Oréal Bulgaria, the National Commission for UNESCO – Bulgaria and Sofia University launched 10 years ago to achieve gender equality in science and give women researchers the recognition they deserve. I believe that 10 years later we can proudly say that we are one step closer to the goal! ”- said Vanya Panayotova, General Manager of L’Oréal Bulgaria, during the online award ceremony of this year’s fellowship recipients.

The event was attended by a number of officials and senior representatives of the scientific community, including Ms. Karina Angelieva – Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Mr. Georg Georgiev – Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the National Commission for UNESCO – Bulgaria, HE Florence Robine – Ambassador of France to Bulgaria, Prof. Nikolay Vitanov – Vice-Rector of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”.

The new eleventh edition of “For Women in Science” will begin in a few days with the opening of applications for 2021 in search of the most talented Bulgarian women scientists.

* UNESCO scientific report with a forecast for 2030