UWI graduate cops L’Oreal-UNESCO Caribbean Women in Science award

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Sunshine De Caires, recipient of the L’Oreal-
UNESCO for Women in Science Award, speaking at the awards ceremony. – Photo courtesy UWI

SUNSHINE DE CAIRES, Ph.D, a graduate of The University of the West Indies, is one of two inaugural recipients of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Caribbean Women in Science Award.

The award ceremony was held UWI’s St Augustine campus during the 23rd Biennial Conference and General Meeting of the Caribbean Academy of Science, a UWI press release said.

This marked the first inclusion of the Caribbean region in the L’Oreal programme which has been recognising outstanding contributions to Science, Techno-logy, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) for 25 years.

The recipients, Dr Sarah Buckland and De Caires, were honoured for their contributions in the fields of soil science and geography, particularly on climate change and its effects in the Caribbean.

Buckland’s research at The UWI, Mona campus in Jamaica, focused on microclimatic comparisons and their impact on agriculture, while De Caires’s work at the St Augustine campus centred on understanding the effects of climate change on soil quality and sustainable land management.

The L’Oréal-UNESCO Caribbean Women in Science Award, in its Young Talents Caribbean Region Programme, is an initiative that seeks to promote female representation and contribution in the scientific field.

This programme, a collaboration between L’Oréal Caribe, the UNESCO Office for the Caribbean, and the Caribbean Academy of Sciences, focuses on addressing the challenges of Caribbean development, scientific research, and female empowerment.

It recognises and honours young female scientists with an endowment to support their scientific work.

From left, Gilles Delaunay, GM of L’Oréal Caribe, Prof Mark Wuddivira, Dean in Faculty of Food and Agriculture at UWI St Augustine, awardees Sunshine De Caires and Dr Sarah Buckland, Dr Tagore Ramlal, Anthony Chadee, Chair IEEE TT and Dr Anna Paolini, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Office for the Caribbean. – Photo courtesy UWI

De Caires successfully defended her Ph.D thesis in Tropical Earth and Environmental Science from the Department of Food Production, at the Faculty of Food and Agriculture at the St Augustine campus.

On receiving the award, she said, “I am deeply honoured and humbled to receive the L’Oreal Caribbean Woman in Science Award. This recognition means the world to me and serves as a testament to the dedication and perseverance that all women in science embody.”

This programme is part of L’Oréal’s global initiative, For Women in Science, which aims to foster a more inclusive environment for women in scientific careers and catalyse a broader societal transformation in this domain.

The initiative underlines the belief in the indispensable connection between science and women, aiming to cultivate a community of female scientists who are empowered to pursue leadership roles and become inspirational mentors.

The Young Talents Caribbean Region marked the 53rd national and regional L’Oréal UNESCO For Women in Science programme globally, covering 24 islands in the region. The selection process is rigorous, with candidates evaluated based on intellectual merit, research potential, scientific excellence, and their commitment to supporting women and girls in science.

The significance of this award extends beyond individual achievement; it is a celebration of every woman in science breaking barriers, challenging norms, and making substantial contributions to the scientific community.

De Caires emphasised the importance of supporting aspiring scientists, especially young women.

“To all aspiring scientists, remember that your potential knows no bounds. Believe in yourselves, surround yourselves with mentors who uplift you, and never shy away from pursuing your passions.”

She attributed her success, in part, to the invaluable support and guidance received from Professors Mark Wuddivira and Duraisamy Saravanakumar, which emphasizes the pivotal role of mentorship in one’s scientific journey.