There has been a lot of excitement surrounding the announcement that two Crick scientists won 2018 L'Oréal-UNESCO UK & Ireland for Women in Science Fellowships. Lucia Prieto-Godino, Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute, and Yanlan Mao, Principal Investigator at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology who did her postdoctoral training at one of the Crick's legacy institutes, are among this year's five winners.
The fellowships are designed to provide flexible and practical financial support for the winners to further their research careers and provide support to keep them in the scientific community. The winners can choose to spend their fellowship on buying scientific equipment, paying for childcare costs, travel costs or whatever they need to continue their research.
Lucia joined the Crick in January this year as a new group leader. She heads up the Neural Circuits and Evolution Lab, which tries to understand how evolution sculpts nervous systems, giving rise to new behaviours.
In addition to her research, Lucia also directs a non-profit organisation to promote scientific research in Africa called TReND in Africa, which stands for 'Teaching and Research in Natural sciences for development in Africa'.
Lucia said: "I think this fellowship is special because in addition to the extremely flexible funding it provides, it gives visibility to women scientists, which I believe is very important to encourage the future generations of researchers."
"So far I have been running TReND in Africa in my spare time, but with my new position as a group leader this is becoming increasingly difficult. Part of the award will be used to fund a part time position to help me with TReND administrative aspects. This will allow me to continue doing the best science I can do without sacrificing my commitment to promote research in Africa."
Formerly a postdoc in Nic Tapon's lab at the London Research Institute - one of the Crick's legacy institutes - Yanlan has been running her own research group at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, UCL, since 2013.
Yanlan and her team explore the fundamentals behind cell and tissue repair after injury. Their research has implications for scar reduction and advanced wound healing in patients.
Yanlan said: "As scientists we have to travel a lot, and that has been difficult to balance with taking care of my daughter. Part of this fellowship will be used towards extra childcare needs while I am away at conferences"