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‘Kiwi scientist wins fellowship to help unlock climate clues’

Dr Georgia Grant has been recognised as recipient of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship for her research into past periods of climate change.

Wellington sedimentologist- Dr Georgia Grant has been awarded the 2023 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science New Zealand Fellowship to aid her research into unlocking past climate change clues through deep sea exploration.

Fresh from an eight-week expedition to Greenland, Dr Grant has seen first-hand coastal erosion and glacial retreat. Onboard a research vessel, she took samples from deep beneath the ocean floor to map out the past three million years of climate history.

“The evidence indicates there hasn’t been a previous period where the climate has changed this quickly – certainly not during human history. Here at home, we are starting to see those effects in extreme weather events like Cyclone Gabrielle.

“By looking to past warmer climates, we hope to reduce uncertainty in what the future holds. My research aims to understand the magnitude of polar ice sheet contribution to sea-level as the climate warms,” she says.

Now in its 16th year in New Zealand, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship recognises the achievements of an exceptional New Zealand-based female scientist and awards them with funding to help further their research.

“We truly are living through a pivotal moment in human history and studying the past provides a window into what our future climate might look like.”

Dr Grant says the fellowship signals to young women that the sciences are a fulfilling career path and one where you’re seen and recognised.

“Receiving this fellowship means everything to me, it recognises the value women give to sciences, and the research we do, and I will continue to encourage and mentor the next generation of female scientists every chance I get.”

Dr Grant receives $25,000 to support her endeavour to explain and uncover how the current interglacial period compares with previous periods.

The fellowship allows the recipient to use the funds for research related expenses, which uniquely also include childcare costs, enabling the recipient to advance their work without practical barriers.

Dr Grant will use the fellowship funds to peer review her Arctic research with colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand’s CEO Alex Davison says, “We’re so proud to fund the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellowship and celebrate the achievements of incredible scientists such as Dr Grant. We believe it’s important to shine a light on life changing research but also to encourage girls and young women to break gender barriers and pursue a career in STEMM. This is now the 16th year running in New Zealand and Dr. Grant’s research has never been more important, coming at a time where understanding the past is vital in protecting the future.”

Today, just over 30 per cent of researchers are women, with less than 25 per cent making up the most senior leadership positions. L’Oréal and UNESCO founded the For Women in Science programme in 1998 to promote the important role that women play in science.

Dr Grant was presented the fellowship amongst previous winners and renowned New Zealand scientists on 9 November at Auckland’s Ortolana restaurant.


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