Since its creation in 1998, L'OREAL-UNESCO has been honoring outstanding women in the fields of studies and research.
Every year on Feb. 11th, five distinguished female scientists, each representing a continent, are given the prestigious L'OREAL-UNESCO For Women in Science International Award and the title of Science Laureate.
The qualifications of the candidates are meticulously studied by an international jury. The diligent 5 are then selected on the basis of outstanding merit, contribution, and initiative.
Lebanon's very own Dr. Najat Aoun Saliba has been selected as the 2019 Laureate for Africa and the Arab States!
Dr. Saliba is a senior professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB). She is also the Director of the AUB-Nature Conservation Center (AUB-NCC). Her work focuses on studying pollution and detrimental variants of the environment.
By no measure a humble feat, Saliba's appointment incited personal congratulations from the First Lady of France. Her picture also hangs from banners in Charles De Gaulle Airport.
A citizen of Beirut, Dr. Saliba is no stranger to the ever-growing pollution problem. Instead of letting that deter her, she was inspired to lead the field of environmental research.
Dr. Saliba is now a pioneer in developing innovative methods to measure, quantify, and study various pollutants and contributing factors of contamination in the region.
One of her remarkable studies not only determines the major causes of elevated levels of pollution in the city but also assessed the contribution of dust storms originating in nearby deserts.
The ground-breaking data she generates is used by local government and research agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank in their publications.
Saliba's outputs made headline news in local and international media outlets and culminated in over 75 peer-reviewed articles that are highly cited.
In recognition for her discoveries and contributions to the advancement of scientific knowledge, Saliba has been awarded many titles over the years, the latest and most exclusive being the 2019 Laureate for Africa and the Arab States.
She is the recipient of the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research Award in the Environmental Category in 2016, and the 2018 American Psychological Association (APA) Prize for Interdisciplinary Team Research. Only a few days ago, President Michael Aoun awarded her the medal for National Order of Cedar.
A strong proponent of empowering women and local expertise, and in her own words "a fighter," Saliba used her speech to address Lebanese and Arab scientists and dreamers, telling women and young girls to go out there and make their own destiny.
Watch her ceremonial titling and the inspiring speech in the video below.