L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science Fellow

Dr Valerie Sung (MBBS 2000) was awarded a 2019 L'Oréal-UNESCO Australian & New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowship in recognition of her research into improving the management of children with hearing loss. She, along with four other recipients, were glitzed up for the ceremony ‘The World needs science and science needs Women’ at the Sydney Café on 14th November 2019, and featured in the March 2020 International Women’s Week edition of Marie Claire.

Dr Valerie Sung
Dr Valerie Sung

The For Women in Science (FWIS) fellowship program, launched in 2007, has recognised 49 scientists, supporting them to continue their research and help them rise to leadership positions in their field of expertise. The $25,000 fellowship allows Valerie to continue her work on:

  • The world’s largest bio-databank of hearing-impaired children of its kind (VicCHILD) to identify early genetic and environmental factors that predict a child’s future,
  • A trial to determine whether early hearing aids help babies with mild hearing loss, and
  • A pilot screening program for the virus CMV which causes hearing loss, in the hope of finding a breakthrough to prevent hearing loss progression.

Valerie had the privilege of inspiring the next generation of women to pursue a career in STEMM, when she, along with the other FWIS fellows, presented at the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Girls In Science Forums in Melbourne and Sydney on 12 and 13 November 2019, each attended by more than 500 school girls. At the end of one of the forums, one school girl said, “I was going to drop out of school, but you have changed my mind!” Through the FWIS fellowship, Valerie is also providing mentorship to one of a few selected female PhD students from within STEMM.

The highlight of the award came with a lot of glamour, something Valerie has never experienced before and certainly not an occasion usually enjoyed by most scientists. A few photoshoots, including one with Marie Claire, a live interview with Today host and ex-60 minute reporter Allison Langdon, and a ceremony attended by the likes of singer Jessica Mauboy and the Hon Julie Bishop, were all to be remembered as one of Valerie’s most extraordinary by-products of her scientific achievements!