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Published on-line at 12:58:01 PM on Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Women's scientific research at LENS awarded by German Humboldt University

LENS researcher Costanza Toninelli has won the Caroline von Humboldt Prize 2011 dedicated to female scientists, this year focused on natural sciences.

The Humboldt University of Berlin awards female scientists from around the world for the last two years. The second edition of Caroline von Humboldt Prize is focused this year on natural sciences and it has awarded the project of INO/CNR researcher Costanza Toninelli: "Organic molecules in disordered photonic structures".

Costanza Toninelli

The grant is €15,000.00 and includes two months in Berlin as guest of Humboldt University. But the aim of this prize is not only the financial support: it is design to provide more recognition for the outstanding achievements of women in science, as stated in the official brochure. During the last years, European Union has put a lot of attention to women's issues and in science the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission is striving to promote gender equality in scientific research, by facilitating the participation of women scientists and integrating the gender dimension into research content in all research areas. Every three years the European Commission draws up a report about women in science and the latest one of 2009 shows a situation in which women represent 30% of European researchers on average, but only 18% of full professors, and are still underrepresented in top positions of careers in science and in particular in the fields of science and engineering, where the percentage of female professors drops to 11%. Today there are many initiatives to address this issue, such as Helsinki Group on Women and Science, FEBS | EMBO Women in Science, L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science, the European platform of women scientists, and so on, and also the Humboldt University initiative goes in this direction, but according to statistics of "She Figures 2009" report seen before, the road is probably still long.

Anyway, in this case the project of Costanza Toninelli was considered the best among many others about all scientific subjects, confirming the LENS ability to attract and employ the best European young minds. Other examples are the two on the three FIRB projects hosted by LENS and coordinated by Margherita Citroni and Mariangela Di Donato. Costanza, along with her research group at LENS, will focus on quantum computation and simulation with photons, using the disorder of suitable complex systems to obtain the maximum control on interaction between light and matter, and using organic molecules as mediators of interactions between photons.