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Laaser receives L'Oreal USA For Women in Science Fellowship

University of Minnesota chemistry researcher Jennifer "Jenny" Laaser, Ph.D., is one of only five recipients nationwide of the 2014 L'Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellowship, which recognizes U.S.-based female researchers for their outstanding contributions in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Recipients receive $60,000 each for their postdoctoral research.

Laaser, who completed her doctorate in physical chemistry last year, is conducting research that will have an impact on future efforts to design gene therapies. Her adviser is Regents Professor Timothy Lodge. She is specifically investigating how positively charged particles interact with negatively charged polymers like DNA. Laaser is also active in The University of Minnesota’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) group where she helps lead “Cool Chemistry,” an outreach event that brings local middle school girls to campus for chemistry activities and demonstrations.

“With a scientific workforce made up of more than 70 percent women, L’Oréal relies on the contributions women make in the STEM fields every single day,” said Kristina Schake, chief communications officer at L'Oréal USA. “We are proud to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of these women and hope to inspire younger generations of girls to embrace STEM as a viable and attractive career option.”

L’Oréal’s U.S. fellowship program included a new requirement this year focused on ensuring that the fellows have a commitment to serving as role models for younger generations. The 2014 fellowship candidates were evaluated based on their intellectual merit, research potential, scientific excellence and their commitment to supporting women and girls in science. Applications were reviewed by experienced scientists in the candidates’ respective fields through a partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which manages the application process.

As part of this year’s program, L’Oréal USA will host a multi-faceted, week-long program of activities to engage the fellows in the broader STEM community. During the week of Nov. 10, the fellows will participate in a White House roundtable with women scientists from across the Executive Branch, visit with members of Congress, participate in a mentoring session with local high school students at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Q?rius lab and tour L’Oréal’s research and innovation labs in Clark, New Jersey.

The activities will culminate with an awards ceremony, Thursday, Nov. 13, where the fellows will be honored in front of government, community and STEM leaders. L’Oréal USA has also partnered with Teen Vogue and the National Girls Collaborative Project to sponsor 25 local young women interested in pursuing STEM careers to attend the event as special guests.

The L’Oréal For Women in Science program is a global program that recognizes and rewards women scientists around the world at critical stages of their career. Since the program began in 1998, more than 2,000 scientists in more than 100 countries have been recognized for their work in the field. Celebrating its 11th year in the U.S., the For Women in Science program has awarded 55 postdoctoral women scientists more than $2 million in grants.

Watch L'Oreal's video on Jennifer.

Read the University of Minnesota's News Release.

Check out the L'Oreal USA For Women in Science Facebook page.

The news release was published in the Business Journal.