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Deborah Jin Wins L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award

Published: 10-19-2012
Source: JILA Scientific Communications

Deborah Jin has been selected as one of five regional winners of the 2013 For Women in Science Awards. The awards are presented annually by the L’Oreal Foundation and UNESCO to recognize outstanding women worldwide who significantly advance science. Jin was selected by an international jury led by Nobel Laureate Ahmed Zewail “for having been the first to cool down molecules so much that she can observe chemical reactions in slow motion which may help further understanding of molecular processes.” Jin and her fellow laureates will be honored during the “For Women in Science Week” in Paris, March 25-29, 2013. Jin’s award will be presented March 28, 2013, and includes a $100,000 prize.

Jin recounts getting the news on October 1, 2012. "Of course I was surprised! I got a call on my cellphone at 7:30 in the morning telling me I'd won the prize.  Ahmed Zewail was on the phone and offered his personal congratulations."

Jin is this year’s Laureate from North America. She was cited for being the first scientist in the world to create ultralow-temperature potassium-rubidium (KRb) molecules. The KRb molecules allow her and colleague Jun Ye to observe chemical reactions in slow motion. These observations may help further understanding of molecular processes that are important for medicine or new energy sources.

The L’Oréal-UNESCO Laureates “demonstrate original approaches to research in the physical sciences, from contributing to better understanding climate change to advancing research on neurodegenerative diseases and potentially uncovering new energy sources,” according to a press release issued in Paris by L’Oreal Foundation and UNESCO October 19.

The other four 2013 Laureates include Francisca Nneka Okeke of the University of Nigeria (Africa region), Pratibha Gai of the University of York (United Kingdom, Europe region), Reiko Kuroda of the Tokyo University of Science (Japan, Asia region), and Marcia Barbosa of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre (Brazil, Latin America region).

Since 1998, the For Women in Science Award has recognized 77 women working across the spectrum of research, from curing diseases to protecting the environment. Year by year, the creativity of these women in science and the importance of their findings contribute to better understanding and improving the world we live in.

Deborah Jin in the Cold Molecule Lab. Credit: Glen Asakawa, Univ. Communications