On Tuesday, June 5, in solemn ceremony at the Latvian Academy of Sciences, five Baltic scientists received awards for academic achievement in science. This year’s recipients of L'ORÉAL Baltic Fellowships for Women in Science include the University of Latvia researchers – Assistant Professor at the University of Latvia, Faculty of Chemistry Ilva Nakurte and researcher at the University of Latvia, Institute of Chemical Physics, Mg. sc. chem. Margarita Baitimirova.

This year, the scholarships were awarded by five talented Baltic researchers – Dr. Ilva Nakurte, Mg. sc. ing. Anda Fridrihsone, Mg. sc. chem. Margarita Baitimirova from Latviam as well as Dr. Ģiedre Motuzaite-Matuzevičūte Keen from Lithuania and Dr. Karin Kogermann from Estonia. Addressing the scholars, the representative of the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO, the Rector of the University of Latvia, Professor Indriķis Muiznieks emphasized that the Baltic States are ahead of the world in terms of gender equality, expressed in the number of women in science and the number of doctorates: “This prize is a perfect illustration of the implementation of the UNESCO mission to spread knowledge, which is a further foundation for prosperity and growth, to promote equality in all ways, including gender equality in science, equal access to resources and growth opportunities." Both UL researchers in their speeches thanked their family, colleagues, friends and students for their support. Ilva Nakurte conveyed a special message to all women: "Do not be afraid of the challenges, do not stop doing what we did in the past, continue doing now and will be able to do in the future." Dr. Ilva Nakurte, Assistant Professor at the University of Latvia, Faculty of Chemistry, and leading researcher at the Institute for Environmental Solutions, received the fellowship “For Women in Science” for the determination of pigments used in traditional textile dyeing processes using a chromatographic analysis method. The purpose of this research project is to develop methodologies that can be used for phytochemical screening of various plant pigments used in the traditional dyeing process using state of the art technology. In addition, the results obtained by studying intangible cultural heritage can provide the public with knowledge about Latvia's history and renewable resources. Mg. sc. chem. Margarita Baitimirova works at the University of Latvia Institute of Chemical Physics, and has been awarded the fellowship for her study of the formation and characterization of layered nanostructures containing graphene. The study is aimed at the creation of layered nanostructures based on the modern material graphene, to study the properties of the newly formed nanostructures and to test their potential use in optoelectric, thermal and electro-optical devices, as well as optical and biological sensors. Layered nanostructures of graphene/thermoelectric material can be used in thermoelectric devices that can generate energy from solar energy and/or temperature difference, for example between indoor and outdoor temperatures, i.e. gain energy from renewable resources, and, with such devices, turn pollution/waste heat into useful electricity. In 2018, the fellowship “Women in Science” competition was entered by 47 applications from Latvia, 26 from Estonia and 26 from Lithuania's life in the spheres of environmental sciences, physical sciences and engineering. Since 2005, when L'ORÉAL Baltic, the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO, the Latvian Academy of Sciences and honorary patron of the fellowship Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga started implementing the programme in Latvia, 42 scientists from Latvia were awarded the fellowships for personal growth. Last year, the project was expanded in the Baltic states, opening the opportunity to receive fellowships to Lithuanian and Estonian researchers. Since 2017, two Lithuanian scholars and two scholars from Estonia have received L'ORÉAL Baltic Fellowships for Women in Science.