2022 Rising Talent Shortlist

L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science UK and Ireland Rising Talents Awards: Meet the 2022 Shortlist

For Women in Science

Women scientists are leading ground-breaking research across the world, but despite their remarkable discoveries women still only represent 1/3 of researchers globally, and their work rarely gains the recognition it deserves.

The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science partnership was founded in 1998 with the simple belief that the world needs science and science needs women. Through its various editions across the world, the programme aims to help empower more women scientists to achieve scientific excellence and participate equally in solving the great challenges facing humanity.

UK and Ireland Rising Talents Awards

The post-doctoral period is a challenging time for women scientists as they work to establish themselves and forge paths towards a permanent research career. The UK and Ireland Rising Talents Programme is the national chapter of For Women in Science and is designed to provide flexible and practical financial support, alongside tools and support, for early career women scientists to pursue their research.

Five grants will be awarded to outstanding women postdoctoral scientists in the fields of Physical Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Computing, Life Science, and Sustainable Development. These fully flexible Fellowships are each worth £15,000 and are tenable at any UK or Irish university or research institute to support a 12-month period of research.

Meet the 2022 Shortlist

The standard of applications this year was exceptionally high, and we would like to thank all of the candidates who applied for this year’s Rising Talents awards.

The following ten researchers have been identified as the strongest candidates by the jury panel, based on their research proposals and excellent academic records, and on how the Rising Talents grant could enhance their careers.

The five Rising Talents awardees will be announced on24th May 2022 at a reception at the House of Commons and on the For Women in Science website and the UNESCO UK and L’Oréal UK & Ireland Twitter channels

Please meet this year’s shortlist:


Dr Martina Cihova (Imperial College London)

Dr Martina Cihova is currently a Research Associate in the Department of Materials at Imperial College London under the mentorship of Prof. Molly Stevens, and Fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation. She holds an MEng in Bioengineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a PhD in Materials Science from ETH Zurich. Dr Cihova leverages her multidisciplinary background in her research on material‒cell interfaces, to drive the development of improved biomaterials and maximise patient safety.

Martina’s research aims to understand the reactivity and stability of medical materials in contact with biological matter, for which she will develop in her research proposal a workflow for correlative cryogenic microscopy that enables the investigation of material-cell interfaces at the nano and microscale under native conditions.

Dr Talia Shmool (Imperial College London)

Dr Talia Shmool completed her PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge investigating the fundamental physicochemical properties and structural dynamics of amorphous solid-state pharmaceutical materials. Currently, at Imperial College London, she leads the research on the use of ionic liquids in vaccine manufacturing and for applications in neurodegenerative diseases.

Talia hopes to design therapeutic proteins with enhanced stability, progress technology and drug design and contribute to the missions of the Alzheimer's Society. Her research proposal involves engineering novel ionic liquid-based delivery platforms for stabilisation and targeted drug delivery for Alzheimer’s disease.

Life Sciences

Dr Elena De Vita (Imperial College London)

Dr Elena De Vita is a medicinal chemist researching innovative approaches to understand and fight cancer. She received her PhD from the University of Heidelberg in 2018 at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). Currently, she is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at Imperial College London.

Her research proposal aims to develop innovative bifunctional molecules that repurpose a specific cellular process to create new therapeutic paradigms which could be effective against cancer in the future.

Dr Myriam Haltalli (University of Cambridge)

Dr Myriam Haltalli completed her PhD at Imperial College London, using an interdisciplinary approach to investigate how severe infection affects haematopoietic stem cells and their bone marrow microenvironment. She is currently a research associate at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute where she is applying genetic barcoding methods for lineage tracing to uncover the mechanisms driving human blood and immune cell development throughout early life.

With her proposed research, she intends to investigate how the blood system is modified by infection at a molecular level and whether this results in “scars” that remain, even after recovery, and compromise health later in life.

Mathematics and Computer Science

Dr Bernadette Stolz (University of Oxford)

Dr Bernadette Stolz develops techniques in topological data analysis to study the shape of biological data and gain novel insights into complex biological processes. She obtained her DPhil, which was awarded two prizes, from the University of Oxford in 2020 and is now a postdoctoral researcher in the Centre for Topological Data Analysis in the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford.

With her research proposal, Bernadette’s goal is to apply mathematical methods that study 'shape' in data to quantify complexity and heterogeneity in cancer tissue for patient stratification, disease phenotyping, treatment prediction, and treatment scheduling.

Dr Emiko Dupont (University of Bath)

Dr Emiko Dupont is a postdoc at the University of Bath with PhDs in pure maths (Stony Brook University, 2007) and statistics (University of Bath, 2021). Her research involves the development and improvement of statistical methodology.

Emiko’s research aims to improve methodology for modelling spatial data, commonly used in areas such as environmental sciences and epidemiology.

Physical Sciences

Dr Tahereh Nematiaram (University of Liverpool)

Dr Tahereh Nematiaram is a Research Associate within the Materials Innovation Factory and Department of Chemistry at the University of Liverpool. She specialises in the discovery of materials with complex physical properties. Tahereh is a deputy co-chair of Liverpool’s Research Staff Association and contributes to Concordat Steering Group activities as Research Staff Representative.

Tahereh’s research aims to design a methodology to discover multi-functional materials for organic optoelectronics.

Dr Rachel Montgomery (University of Glasgow)

Dr Rachel Montgomery is a nuclear physicist. After obtaining her PhD from the University of Glasgow, she was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics and was based at the National Laboratory of Frascati. She is currently a UKRI STFC Ernest Rutherford and Lord Kelvin/Adam Smith Leadership Fellow at the University of Glasgow.

Rachel’s research aims to further our fundamental understanding of the sub-atomic particles which bind together to form nuclei. She is developing novel instruments to measure these particles and is particularly interested in transferring these technologies to the field of nuclear medicine. One example is improving dosimetry measurements for particle beams in radiotherapy.

Sustainable Development

Dr Christina Faust (University of Glasgow)

Dr Christina Faust is a NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) Independent Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow in the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine. She obtained a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University in 2016 and has conducted postdoctoral research on the environmental drivers of zoonotic (animal to human) disease at Oxford University, Montana State University and Penn State University.

Christina is a landscape disease ecologist and her research integrates field studies, population genetics and mathematical modelling to find nature-based solutions for mitigating zoonotic disease emergence in human populations. Her research proposal aims to identify mechanisms and key environmental features that minimise rodent viral zoonoses in restored forests.

Dr Jenny Zhang (University of Cambridge)

Dr Jenny Zhang obtained her PhD in chemistry from the University of Sydney and then joined the University of Cambridge as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow to investigate how biocatalysts can be exploited in energy conversion. She now holds a David Phillips Fellowship to research how living photosynthetic cells can be re-wired to materials to deliver innovative solutions for sustainable chemical and power generation.

With her research proposal, Jenny aims to build an automated platform to accelerate electroactive biocatalyst discovery in order to accelerate the development of sustainable biohybrid energy conversion devices.