A DUBLIN-BASED scientist has been named as one of the winners of the prestigious 2012 L’Oréal-UNESCO UK & Ireland For Women In Science Fellowships (FWIS).
Dr Silvia Giordani is from the school of chemistry at Trinity College Dublin and won £15,000 prize money.
The award was also given to three other international scientists on the night, who are all working on postdoctoral studies.
The aim is to award outstanding female scientists with money that they can spend on whatever they may need to continue their research – this can range from scientific equipment to covering childcare or travel costs.
Dr Giordani commented on the night that without this funding, she would be unable to carry out her research, and this sentiment was echoed by John O’Halloran from University College Cork, who was one of the judges.
She said it can be “ridiculously” hard to get funding sometimes, particularly since the recession, so an award like this enables her to further her work.
In total, Dr Giordani, who is from Bergamo in the north of Italy, has spent eight years in Ireland at TCD, as well as a spell completing her PhD at the University of Miami in the United States.
She received a Marie Curie Fellowship award to go to Trinity College and has also received the President of Ireland Young Researcher award, which enabled her to return to the college in 2007.
What is it that she enjoys about working at TCD? “The facilities – it’s a very good university,” she said, adding that the move to the new Trinity bioscience institute has been particularly great as it has meant a lot of integration between scientists from different spheres.
The award was a great opportunity for connecting and networking and also big exposure for Dr Giordani – plus it was an opportunity for her to make new contact with other female scientists, she said.
At at time when more girls are being encouraged to study science, Dr Giordani feels that inspiration and role models are important.
Young people need role models; especially young girls need female role models to feel they can do it.
I like outreach; I do quite a bit of outreach myself.
Dr Giordani does a mentoring programme with her old high school in Italy, where she mentors a group of 10 students.
I always tell them there are not too many women in science but the ones that I meet are really good and curious.
“Stay curious and ask questions but also believe in yourself,” she advises them, adding that seeing another woman working in the science field can inspire young women. Above all, she believes “there is no substitute” for hard work.
Dr Giordani is currently working on a project for applications in new bio-medical diagnostic tools. She heads up a five-person research team at the college, and grants and funding have been instrumental in allowing them to continue their work.
Of her work, Dr Giordani said:
We are aiming to design small, molecular or nanosized, devices that can carry out a series of different functions within the context of smart and responsive medicine.The starting point is a carbon-based material that is compatible with living biological systems. Once we have solubilized this platform, we attach one or more components to it in such a way that the resulting device can carry out a pre-programmed task.
The team is currently examining components that allow it to track and monitor the location of the device, and are also exploring the possibilities for using this platform as a vehicle for targeted and controlled drug-delivery within a biological system.
They also hope to equip the device with components that will allow them to switch it on and off using different types of “remote control”, or external stimuli.
Dr Giordani described it as exciting to be “able to do things in that area that is new and nobody has done before”.
Now that she has won her award, Dr Giordani told TheJournal.ie that she is looking forward to the next phase in her work, and seeing how her research team progresses.