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IUPAC Distinguished Women in Chemistry

Fabienne Meyers, IUPAC Associate Director Carolyn Ribes, Chair of the Committee on Chemistry and Industry Angela K. Wilson, Past President of the Physical and Biophysical Chemistry Division

1Contributions to Science and Careers

Through the years, there have been countless contributions of women to chemistry.  In this International Year of the Periodic Table, it is important to recognize the contributions that women have made in the field.  Historically, most notable are the distinct roles that women have played in the development of the Periodic Table – Marie Curie (discovery of radium (Ra) and polonium (Po), received two Nobel Prizes for her work on radiation, and became the namesake of curium (Cm));  Berta Karlik (astatine (At));  Lise Meitner (isotope of protactinium (Pa), discovered nuclear fission, namesake of meitnerium (Mt); Ida Noddack (rhenium (Re); nominated three times for a Nobel Prize); Marguerite Perey (francium (Fr)).


In special issues of Pure and Applied Chemistry —February and April 2019– in celebration of the International Year of the Periodic Table and the 100th anniversary of IUPAC, we recognize a number of the women who received the IUPAC Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering Award. They have provided short technical reviews for this special issue, or have provided career advice and insight for future scientists and engineering, or have provided examples of how they have navigated the many challenges and opportunities they have encountered in their own careers.


link to PAC, keywords “Distinguished+Women+in+Chemistry+and+Chemical+Engineering”
In PAC, Feb 2019: Brimble | Separovic | Linse | Banci | Gimeno | Kohse-Höinghaus | Simon Sarkadi | Aida | Meyer | Ribes | Hering | Hargittai | Lerman

2So, how have these women become IUPAC Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering?

For the International Year of Chemistry in 2011, a project, “Are Women still Underrepresented in Science?” was initiated to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Marie Curie.  The project, first sponsored by the American Chemical Society, and initially led by Ingrid Montes and Janet Bryant, included the first international award dedicated to the recognition of distinguished women chemists and chemical engineers across the globe, and acknowledgement and promotion of their work worldwide.

23 women were recognized with the first “IUPAC Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering”, and the awards were presented at the IUPAC General Assembly and World Chemistry Congress held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, meetings hosted by the Colegio de Quimicos de Puerto Rico and under the leadership IUPAC President Nicole J. Moreau (France).  Women were recognized for their distinction and excellence in chemistry and chemical engineering, whether in research, leadership, teaching, management, industry, government, academia, or whatever work sector in which the women are engaged. Among the women honored by the first award were Nobel Laureate Ada Yonath and Princess Chulabhorn (Somdet Phrachao Luk Thoe Chaofa Chulabhorn Walailak Agrarajakmurai) of Thailand, who has been a remarkable advocate for chemistry.

First presentation in 2011: (top left) Janet Bryant and Ingrid Montes;  (right) Princess Chulabhorn and Ada Yonath; (bottom left) Nancy Jackson (ACS 2011 President), Ada Yonath, and Janet Bryant


The celebration and recognition of women in chemistry that was begun in 2011 continues, and has continued at each biennial IUPAC General Assembly and World Chemistry Congress since then.  In addition to an awards program that is held at each meeting to present the awards, a symposium is also held to discuss the status of women in chemistry across the globe.  Challenges that women can encounter in their careers and routes to navigate challenges have been addressed by the distinguished awardees.  The presentations have been motivational, and have been very helpful to women who are newer in the field, to help them understand that everyone faces challenges in their careers, and, that those challenges are not unsurmountable.

To date, four groups of scientists have now been recognized with the IUPAC Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering Award.


32011 Awards

On 2 August 2011, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 23 women were recognized with the very first IUPAC Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering Award.

Pictured are a number of the awardees and organizers of the 2011 program, pictured with Susan M. Frontczak, who enacted Marie Curie in a play performed in honor of the International Year of Chemistry.

The awardees were:

Ingrid Montes introducing the award to Ayse Aroguz
Carolyn Ribes (center) receiving her award from Ingrid Montes and Janet Bryant

Nouria A. Al-Awadi (Kuwait)
Faizah Mohammed Abdel Mohsin Al-Kharafi (Kuwait)
Ayse Aroguz (Turkey)
Vanderlan Bolzani (Brazil)
Novella Bridges (USA)
Luisa De Cola (Germany)
Joanna Fowler (USA)
Véronique Gouverneur (UK)
Magdolna Hargittai (Hungary)
Nancy B. Jackson (USA)
Susan M. Kauzlarich (USA)
Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus (Germany)
H.R.H. Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol (Thailand)
Nicole J. Moreau (France)
Linda F. Nazar (Canada)
Izabela Nowak (Poland)
Carolyn Ribes (Netherlands)
Sara Snogerup Linse (Sweden)
Yoshie Souma (Japan)
Natalia Tarasova (Russia)
Klára Tóth (Hungary)
Lesley J. Yellowlees (UK)
Ada E. Yonath (Israel)



More details about the 2011 recognition program are provided at the following websites:




42013 Awards

In 2013, the awards program was held at the 2013 IUPAC General Assembly and 44th World Chemistry Congress; meetings that occurred under the leadership of IUPAC President Kazuyuki Tatsumi (Japan) and the organization of the Turkish Chemical Society.  The awards program was held in a garden ceremony at the Istanbul Lutfi Kirdar Convention and Exhibition Center.  The continuation of the recognition program beyond the International Year of Chemistry was supported by both IUPAC (https://iupac.org/project/2013-002-2-022) and ICSU (renamed in 2018 as ISC, the International Science Council).

Pictured above are recipients of the IUPAC 2013 Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering Award.  From left to right, Yi Xie, Kazue Kurihara, Mary Garson, Liliana Mammino, Elsa Reichmanis, Concepcio Rovira, Angela Wilson, and Evamarie Hey-Hawkins. Additionally in the picture on the right are Gulcin Erem Berkel, General Manager of Dow Turkey and Central Asian Republics, The Dow Chemical Company, sponsor of the presentation, and Professor Nicole Moreau, former IUPAC President.


The 2013 honorees were:

Irina P. Beletskaya (Russia)
Annette Doherty (UK)
Mary Garson (Australia)
Evamarie Hey-Hawkins (Germany)
Kazue Kurihara (Japan)
Liliana Mammino (South Africa)
Elsa Reichmanis (USA)
Concepcio Rovira (Spain)
Maria Vallet-Regi (Spain)
Angela Wilson (USA)
Yi Xie (China)


A symposium was held where the awardees described their careers, support, and challenges they encountered, and shared advice and recommendation for younger scientists. An additional discussion was held about the status of women in chemistry across the globe.

52015 Awards - Gaining Momentum

For the 2015 IUPAC project, https://iupac.org/project/2015-007-1-020, and recognition program, the award ceremony took place during the IUPAC 48th General Assembly and 45th World Chemistry Congress at the Busan Exhibition and Conference Center (Bexco) in Busan, Korea, which was hosted by the Korean Chemical Society under the leadership of IUPAC President Mark Cesa (USA).

The 2015 Distinguished Women in Chemistry recognized in São Paulo (L to R): Pictured above are recipients of the IUPAC 2015 Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering Award, along with IUPAC President Mark Cesa (far left), (from left) Carmen Najera, Lucia Banci, Hyunjoo Lee, Janet Hering, Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff, Karen Gleason, Natalia Tarasova (IUPAC Vice President), Margaret Brimble, Nadia Kandile, Ewa Bulska, and Make Kawai.

The awardees of the IUPAC 2015 Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering recognition are as follows:

Lucia Banci (Italy)
Margaret Brimble (New Zealand)
Ewa Bulska (Poland)
Karen Gleason (USA)
Janet Hering (Switzerland)
Nadia G. Kandile (Egypt)
Maki Kawai (Japan)
Hyunjoo Lee (South Korea)
Carmen Najera (Spain)
Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff (Germany)
Roberta Sessoli (Italy)
Livia Simon Sarkadi (Hungary)

The ceremony coincided with a symposium entitled “Women in Chemistry: Gaining Momentum” and a reception, which were both held in honor of the recipients.  At the symposium, award recipients shared their stories, describing their personal career highlights, and provided their insight about how women can best achieve success in chemistry.


62017 Awards

The fourth recognition of women chemists and chemical engineers took place during the opening ceremony of the 46th IUPAC World Chemistry Congress, held at the WTC Center in São Paulo, Brazil and hosted by the Brazilian Chemical Society under the leadership of IUPAC President Natalia Tarasova (Russia). A symposium was held, and the awardees participated in a panel discussion about their career pathways, challenges they encountered, and advice to younger chemists.

The 2017 Distinguished Women in Chemistry recognized in São Paulo (L to R): Vanderlan Bolzani (Women in Chemistry Special Symposium coordinator), Ingrid Montes, Misako Aida, Veronika Meyer, Yvonne Mascarenhas, Angela Wilson (Symposium co-chair), Zafra Lerman, Frances Separovic, Carolyn Ribes (Symposium co-chair), Concepcion Gimeno, Thisbe Lindhorst, Lifeng Chi, and on the far right, IUPAC President Natalia Tarasova. The gentleman in the back row is IUPAC Secretary General Richard Hartshorn. For background information about these awards, see iupac.org/iupac-2017-distinguished-women

For background information about these awards, see iupac.org/iupac-2017-distinguished-women

The 2017 awardees were:

Misako Aida (Japan)
Lifeng Chi (China)
Concepción Gimeno (Spain)
Jaqueline Kiplinger (USA)
Zafra Lerman (USA)
Thisbe K. Lindhorst (Germany)
Ekaterina Lokteva (Russia)
Yvonne Mascarenhas (Brazil)
Veronika Ruth Meyer (Switzerland)
Ingrid Montes-González (Puerto Rico)
Frances Separovic (Australia)
Jihon Yu (China)


72019 Awards

The program continues to recognize outstanding women, and in time to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science this February 11, 2019, IUPAC announced the awardees of the IUPAC 2019 Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering:

Professor Kim Baldridge, School Pharmaceutical Science and Technology, Tianjin, China
Professor Donna Blackmond, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA
Professor Susan Bourne, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa
Professor Janine Cossy, ESPCI, Paris, France
Professor Vicki Grassian, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
Professor Otilia Mó Romero, Univ Autonoma Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Professor Elizabeth Ann Nalley, Cameron University, Lawton, OK, USA
Professor Carol Vivien Robinson, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Professor Molly Shoichet, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Professor Luisa Torsi, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy
Professor Chris Willis, School of Chemistry, Bristol, United Kingdom
Professor Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, Chalmers University, Gothenburg, Sweden

An award ceremony will take place during the IUPAC World Chemistry Congress in Paris, France, coinciding with the special symposium on Women in Chemistry and reception in honor of the recipients. See www.iupac2019.org for details.



International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

American Chemical Society

International Science Council

Colegio de Quimicos de Puerto Rico

Turkish Chemical Society

Korean Chemical Society

Brazilian Chemical Society

Comité National Français de la Chimie (French National Adhering Organization to IUPAC)

The Dow Chemical Company

Hugh Burrows, Editor, Pure and Applied Chemistry

IUPAC Presidents:  Nicole Moreau, Kazuyuki Tatsumi, Mark Cesa, Natalia Tarasova, and Qi-Feng Zhou


  1. Pure and Applied Chemistry, Volume 91, Issue 2 (Feb 2019) Special issue: Distinguished Women in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering - https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/pac.2019.91.issue-2/issue-files/pac.2019.91.issue-2.xml
  2. Are Women Still Underrepresented in Science?. Chemistry International (2011), 33(6), pp. 19-21. - https://doi.org/10.1515/ci.2011.33.6.19
  3. IUPAC Project - Development and recognition programs for women in chemistry - https://iupac.org/project/2013-002-2-022
  4. IUPAC Project - Accelerating participation and leadership of women in chemistry - https://iupac.org/project/2015-007-1-020
  5. IUPAC News Release, 7 Feb 2019 - https://iupac.org/iupac-2019-distinguished-women/
  6. The International Day of Women and Girls in Science (Feb 11) is a global day celebrating achievement and promoting full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. - http://www.un.org/en/events/women-and-girls-in-science-day/
  7. FOOTNOTE - this IUPAC100 Story is released in advance of International Women's Day (March 8), a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. #IWD2019 #BalanceforBetter - https://www.internationalwomensday.com


Meyers, F., Ribes, C. and Wilson, A. (6 Mar 2019) "IUPAC Distinguished Women in Chemistry: Contributions to Science and Careers" IUPAC 100 Stories. Retrieved from https://iupac.org/100/stories/iupac-distinguished-women-in-chemistry/. (Accessed: day month year)

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