The jury of the 5th edition of the Julio Peláez Award for Pioneering Women in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics by the Tatiana Pérez de Guzmán el Bueno Foundation has decided to award this prize ex aequo to emeritus professor of the UAB Department of Physics María Josefa Yzuel (Jaca, Osca, 1940) and to CSIC research lecturer Susana Marcos (Salamanca, 1970).
Two generations separate these two women researchers from the optics field. Susana Marcos considers Josefa Yzuel her scientific great-grandmother, given that her PhD thesis director was a doctoral student of a physic who, in turn, had received his PhD diploma under the direction of Josefa Yzuel.
With this award ex aequo, th 5th Julio Peláez Award to Pioneering Women seeks complicity with the older generations, who have suffered greatly under the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of research in meeting the health problems and needs of society, which is reflected in the work of the awarded medical optics professionals.
CSIC President Rosa Menéndez, who was in charge of inaugurating the awards ceremony, highlighted the importance of making women in science visible. "It is absolutely necessary to give a name and a face to each of our women scientists, because many of them are excellent professionals. A clear example of this are Dr Yzuel and Dr Marcos, both of them awarded in this edition and who are authentic leaders our young people and future generations can look up to. They represent the joint effort of beginning and continuing the research in the field of optics, and both of them conduct excellent research that does not go unnoticed. The Julio Peláez Award contributes each year to helping make these researchers visible and providing the recognition they deserve."
In addition to their priceless accomplishments in the field of optics, and their contribution to making science in Spain visible internationally, Professor María Josefa Yzuel pioneered the incorporation of women into the area of physics in Catalonia. She was the first unviersity associate lecturer in physics in 1971, and the first university chair profressor in optics in 1982. Her professional trajectory has paved the way and served as example to many researchers, such as Susana Marcos, with whom she shares this award.
"I was very excited when I heard that I would be receiving the Julio Peláez Award to Women Pioneers in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. It is a very unique award I would like to dedicate to all the women who began their careers at the same time as I did and who had to fight to get ahead. I would like to thank the foundation for their sensitivity in treasuring the contributions of women as pioneers in science", Professor Yzuel stated.
Susana Marcos stands out for her research into applied optics and the study of the human eye with the help of astronomy tools. She has developed a simulator that allows patients with cataracts and long-sightedness to experience the results of implanting intraocular lenses, refractive surgery or adapting to contact lenses before operating on them.
She highlighted the fact that these awards help to set examples: "I find this a wonderful award for women scientists. I am very happy to receive it because of what it represents, as an example which should be followed. And for me, Marifí Yzuel is an example for many women scientists. I believe this award is very important and it makes me very happy to receive it, not only for the recognition of the work I do, but also as an example of the impact it can have on other women. It is a true honour to share it with Marifí Yzuel. I believe that if there is a pioneer in Optics in SPain and internationally, it is definitely her".
Teodoro Sánchez-Àvila, President of the Tatiana Pérez de Guzmán el Bueno Foundation, pointed out that the "example of the awarded researchers encourages us to value the role of our older generation to help advance in the science generated today".
Vídeo of the awards ceremony
Award information dossier