TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A L'Oreal USA Fellowship for Women in Science has been awarded to Florida State University alumna Laura Lapham, a postdoctoral research assistant and courtesy faculty member in FSU's Department of Oceanography, and this year, one of just five young women scientists in the nation selected for the prestigious $40,000 prize.
The L'Oreal USA Fellowships for Women in Science program -- administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) -- was launched in 2003 to help women in science achieve their goals by providing them with funding to help support 12 months of postdoctoral research. Highly competitive, the fellowships are bestowed each year on a small, elite group of researchers from the fields of mathematics, engineering, technology (including computer science), and the life and physical/material sciences.
For 2008, Lapham, 33, a native of Sarasota, Fla., was one of 196 applicants.
Those fellowships represent a much-needed investment. In the United States, women earn half of all science degrees and comprise half of the total workforce yet hold just 20 percent of the science jobs.
Lapham's $40,000 award will underwrite new instrumentation essential to her geochemical research in the Gulf of Mexico on the formation and decomposition of deep-sea gas hydrates -- ice-like crystalline formations containing methane gas within the ice lattice.
"There is a lot of interest in gas hydrate deposits as a potential energy source," said Lapham, who collects samples of the hydrates, found in oceanic sediments on the sea floor, via a manned submersible vehicle. "Deposits of hydrates are thought to be the world's largest reservoir of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and fossil fuel."
She noted that while hydrates are generally stable under high pressure, low temperature and saturated methane conditions such as those found in oceanic sediments and arctic permafrost, if
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Florida State University