Two Batswana Women Scientists Win The L’oreal-Unesco For Women In Science Awards 2020

(L-R): Godiraone A. Nkoni (2017 Winner), Hon Machana Shamukuni, LaToya Seoke, Hon. Dr. Douglas Letsholathebe, Tsaone Tamuhla.



  • 20 African Women Researchers highlighted for their scientific excellence
  • 2 Batswana Women Scientists win Doctorate awards and receive €10,000.00 each
  • BIH committed to facilitating Research & Innovation and shine a spotlight on women scientists
  • Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science & Technology, Dr Douglas Letsholathebe acknowledges the 2 winners at a “meet & greet’’ session
  • A historic commitment to women in science, more needed than ever in times of crisis

The Fondation L’Oréal together with UNESCO revealed the 11th Sub-Saharan Africa Young Talent Awards L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science, which rewards 20 women researchers for the academic excellence of their work. Coming from 16 countries, these 15 PhD students and 5 post-doctorates embody, through their backgrounds and research subjects, all the diversity and potential of tomorrow’s African science.

Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) is delighted to announce that 2 women from Botswana; LaToya Seoke & Tsaone Tamuhla were awarded the Doctorate award and received prize money of €10,000.00 each. The 2 women boost a rich portfolio of project as follows;

LaToya Seoke, PhD Student, Biological Sciences

ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, University of Pretoria (South Africa)

LaToya Seoke is focused on the development of diagnostic tools to detect the foot-and-mouth disease virus, which is highly present in goats in southern Africa. The control and possible eradication of the disease, considered as the most important livestock disease on the continent from a financial point of view, would have a significant impact on the economies of many sub-Saharan African countries. Through her research, she hopes to contribute more generally to the eradication of infectious diseases in Africa.

Tsaone Tamuhla, PhD Student, Computer and Information Science

Computational Biology, University of Cape Town (South Africa)

Tsaone Tamuhla is collecting clinical and genetic data to better understand the emerging pandemic of type 2 diabetes in Africa. Given that most research has focused on the role of lifestyle in the occurrence of the disease, the genetic factors in African populations are still poorly known. She believes that the barriers faced by women scientists in Africa testify to their resilience and the fundamental importance their contribution may have for research.

The jury of the 2020 Sub-Saharan Africa Fondation L’Oréal Young Talents Awards, chaired by Professor Nelson Torto, Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences, selected these 20 Young Talents from nearly 330 applications. They all have in common the excellence of their projects and the desire to contribute to fuelling innovation in Africa. They are joining the community of 3,400 women researchers around the world who have been supported by the For Women in Science program since its creation in 1998. Thanks to these Awards, young women researchers are receiving financial support, through grants of €10,000 for PhD students and €15,000 for post-doctorates, in order to enable them to pursue and consolidate their research work.

Alexandra Palt, Executive Vice-President of the Fondation L’Oréal, said: “The need for research by Africans for Africa has never been greater to address the challenges facing the continent. To overcome the current crisis, Africa’s research sector must accelerate its transformation by becoming even more digitally connected and empowering young women who wish to pursue scientific careers.”

Acknowledging the Batswana 2 winners at a “meet & greet” session, Hon. Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science & Technology, Dr Douglas Letsholathebe said; “The importance of research cannot be overemphasized particularly in our mission to transform our economy from resource based to a knowledge based economy. We are delighted to have women take the stage and inspire other young researchers to pursue research projects that can help us solve some of the challenges we face today”.

Alan Boshwaen, CEO of Botswana Innovation Hub said; “The BIH embraced the L’OREAL-UNESCO for women in science awards and promoted the call for applications from Batswana scientists. Early this year, BIH collaborated with the L’Oréal Fondation and worked on a campaingn to promote the call for applications as part of the Hub’s mandate to faciliatte Research and Innovation. Working with academic institutions and special focus groups of women scientist and past winners we are pleased to have been able to mobilise a significant number of participants to enter the competition through submission of their work demonstrating the impact that their research will have in society at large”.

The L’Oréal Fondation works for the benefit of women around the world, supporting them and enabling them to achieve their goals in two major areas that sit at the heart of the Group’s culture: scientific research and inclusive beauty. The L’Oréal Fondation together with UNESCO promotes women in Science through among other things an annual competition for aspiring women researchers  at doctoral and post doctoral levels awarding cash grants to 20 most deserving women young talents in Sub Saharan Africa. Through the research areas of the Young Talents, the 2020 Sub-Saharan Awards reveal several fundamental trends in the continent’s science, all closely linked to the challenges it is facing. From medicine to biology and computer science, the themes of their research work are highly topical: infectious diseases, combating climate change or enhancing food security.


About Botswana Innovation Hub

Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) is a networked organisation that promotes innovation and technology entrepreneurship. Its primary goal is to support the commercialisation of solutions developed by BIH supported entities.

BIH was established to contribute towards the diversification of the economy and transform Botswana towards a knowledge economy by:

  • Supporting start-ups and existing companies to grow by providing innovation capacity building as well as access to funding and national technology transfer office services
  • Creating linkages between different players in the national innovation ecosystem to identify and capitalize on collaboration opportunities
  • Attracting like-minded, innovative and technology driven companies and institutions to establish their operations in the Park
  • Managing and developing the Science and Technology Park to create a thriving innovation ecosystem

The organisation has two subsidiaries namely Botswana Innovation Hub Properties (BIHP) and Botswana Innovation Hub Investments (BIHI). BIHP’s mandate is to develop and manage the Science and Technology Park and BIHI is a special purpose vehicle established to serve as the Hub’s investment arm. Its role is to attract, invest in and manage commercially viable and technology related investments.

About the Fondation L’Oréal

The Fondation L’Oréal works for the benefit of women around the world, supporting them and enabling them to achieve their goals in two major areas that sit at the heart of the Group’s culture: scientific research and inclusive beauty. Created in 1998 and led by the Fondation L’Oréal in partnership with UNESCO, the For Women in Science program aims to improve the representation of women in scientific careers, based on the conviction that the world needs science, and science needs women. Over 22 years, the program has supported and raised the profile of more than 3,400 researchers from 116 countries.

For more information or interview opportunities, please contact:

Kemiso Ben

Brand & Communications Manager

Botswana Innovation Hub

Tel: +267 369 6413

Cell: 71321701


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