researcher got Susanna Nunes Professor of Chemical and Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Vice Dean for College and Academic Affairs at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was awarded the “L’Oréal UNESCO for Women in Science” award at its twenty-fifth session.
Nunes was crowned with the award during a ceremony held yesterday evening, Thursday, in Paris, and the researcher said – in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net via e-mail – “It is a special honor and great recognition of my scientific work, and I am especially honored to represent Africa and Arab countries. I was born in Brazil, but Saudi Arabia was my home in The past thirteen years, and the award is a celebration of the talents in this region, and a celebration of the positive changes we are experiencing today.
Coronation in the field of chemistry
Professor Susana Nunes won the award for her outstanding work in developing innovative membrane filters for highly efficient chemical separations with a smaller carbon footprint, and her research has proven particularly beneficial to the water, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries in terms of a more sustainable environment.
Nunes said, “I was nominated by the Vice-Chancellor of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, with the support of 6 senior international colleagues in my field from the United States, the United Kingdom, Asia and Europe, and the competition was tough, and the nominations were analyzed by an international jury appointed by L’Oreal and UNESCO.” in the field of physical sciences.
The independent jury for the 2023 Prize is chaired by Artur Avila, Professor at the Institute of Mathematics at the University of Zurich (Switzerland), Distinguished Researcher at the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Recipient of the Fields Medal in 2014.
On the research topic for which Susanna won this award, she said, “The main drive of my work is to facilitate the transition to a fully sustainable economy, using chemistry and membrane technology.”
The membranes are very fine filters that enable separation of particles for various applications such as pharmaceutical production, separation of different components of oil in the petrochemical industry, hydrogen technology, and dehumidification of air.
Developing less energy consuming membranes
Susana, who specializes in membrane technology and its applications in the field of sustainable separation, points out that membranes are already used for desalination of sea water, for example, and she said, “I am now developing more selective and stable membranes in order to further integrate membrane technology in the chemical, pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries. And the industry in general. Responsible for a third of energy consumption worldwide and the consequent carbon dioxide emissions, and separation processes can be responsible for up to 50% of the energy used in the chemical industry, so we have to propose less energy-intensive separation technologies and less emission of carbon dioxide Carbon”.
She adds, “We hear a lot about carbon dioxide capture, but we have to propose technologies that reduce energy consumption and produce carbon dioxide from the beginning, and membrane technology is the solution, but we need membranes that are able to separate similar molecules, and we need stable membranes.” Even under the harsh environments of the chemical industry.
Susana oversees a diverse research team, and says in this regard, “My research team at KAUST is very diverse. I have students and scientists from Saudi Arabia and other nationalities from Europe, South America, Africa, China, and India, and it is a multidisciplinary group with expertise in chemistry and chemical engineering.” microscopes and environmental sciences.
Susanna’s research interests focus on novel copolymer materials, nanofunctional fillers, organic and inorganic nanocomposites for membrane applications, as well as thermodynamic control and shape of supermolecular composites of copolymer blocks in solutions and complex agents, as tools for the preparation of nanocomposite copolymer films.
It is also interested in characterizing the compositions of copolymer materials in solutions and membranes through advanced microscopy and scattering methods. It also works on developing membranes for microfiltration, forward reverse osmosis, membrane distillation, and membrane integration with catalytic processes.
Honoring distinguished scholars
And according to Press release issued by the L’Oréal Foundation. Researcher Susana Nunes, along with 4 female scientists, was honored with the 2023 “L’Oréal UNESCO for Women in Science” international prize for their contributions to society through their research in the fields of physical sciences, mathematics and computer science, coinciding with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the program. L’Oréal UNESCO for Women in Science is renowned for recognizing the scientific excellence of women researchers at the national, regional and international levels.
The jury selected 5 winners of the L’Oreal UNESCO Prize for Women in Science at its twenty-fifth session in 2023, and they work in the fields of materials science, mathematics and computer science.
In addition to Susana Nunes, here is a list of the winners and the regions they belong to:
Prize winner for Latin America and the Caribbean
Professor Ana Maria Font, Physics, is Professor of Physics at the Central University of Venezuela.
Award winner for North America
Professor Aviv Regev is a bioinformatics professor and executive vice president and global director of genetic engineering technology and early childhood development in San Francisco.
Award winner for Asia and the Pacific
Professor Lydia Moravska in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Distinguished Professor in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, and Director of the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health.
Prize winner for Europe
Professor Frances Kirwan in Mathematics, and is Savile Professor of Engineering at the University of Oxford.