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Riga Technical University (RTU) scientists Jana Vecstaudža and Laura Dembovska were granted scholarship «For Women in Science» by cosmetics company «L'Oréal Baltic». This is already the fifteenth year since this prestigious and sole award in the Baltics is being granted to female scientists.
The focus of the research by L. Dembovska, Researcher at the Department of Building Materials and Building Products of the Institute of Materials and Structures of RTU Faculty of Civil Engineering, is heat-resistant material development for industrial use. Traditionally, fireproof materials are used for the insulation of high temperature industrial furnaces; however, they are subject to corrosion associated with changes in temperature and the corrosive nature of combustion products. L. Dembovska has conducted research on alternative materials that can be made of clay calcined in different temperatures, lead glass, granulated blast-furnace slag, aluminum scrap recycling waste, as well as heat-resistant fillers. These materials can be used as insulation materials for high temperature (up to 1000 °C) industrial equipment isolation. The alkali activated materials and alkali activated aluminosilicate composites developed by L. Dembovska are low-energy materials. They are made of inorganic minerals or waste products and, compared to the currently used insulation materials, their production creates minimal impact on the environment.
The second «L'Oréal Baltic» scholarship winner J. Vecstaudža is in the process of acquiring her Doctoral degree at the study programme «Materials Science» of RTU Faculty of Materials Science and Applied Chemistry. She is developing the material at RTU Rūdolfs Cimdiņš Riga Biomaterials Innovation and Development Centre that on the basis of its properties and structure would be very close to human bone. Her study aim is to obtain amorphous calcium phosphate granules for filling bone defects. Such nanostructured amorphous calcium phosphate granules can be used in mouth, face, and jaw surgery or plastic surgery for filling small bone defects. The developed materials will accelerate new bone formation and thereby shorten the recovery time of patients in the post-operative period.
L'Oreal Baltic scholarship «For Women in Science» is the sole support program of such type in the Baltics for female scientists. It promotes the professional development of Baltic female scientists, helping achieve new goals and enhance the contribution to both science and society.
This year the scholarships — each amounting to 6,000 EUR — were granted not only to the already mentioned RTU scientists, but also to one more Latvian researcher Marina Makrecka-Kūka. Lithuanian scholarships were granted to Jurgita Skiecevičiene and Milda Alksne, while scholarships from Estonia — to Kārina Parta and Tūla Sepa.
The scholarship program is implemented in cooperation with the academies of sciences of the three Baltic States and the Latvian, Estonian, and Lithuanian National Commissions for UNESCO.
Since the implementation of the scholarship program in Latvia 15 years ago, 45 female scientists received the award for their contribution to science. Since 2017, the scholarship program has been expanded, and four scientists from Lithuania and four from Estonia have been awarded.