The sudden death of Sophie Vanhulle in autumn 2009 has been a shock for the OxiZymes community and the European scientific community as a whole. Sophie was heading a very active research group in the field of oxidoreducatases at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.
Through a multidisciplinary approach, Sophie’s research has linked life science (whole cell biotransformations, physiological and toxicological studies of cells, and enzymes implicated in bioprocesses) and organic chemistry (identification of metabolites, retro-synthesis analyses to design precursors in new biosyntheses). Sophie’s work has demonstrated the allosteric behaviour of a laccase for the first time, with potentially pioneering consequences for this field of research.
In addition to her scientific expertise, Sophie was instrumental in the development of the idea, the design, and the implementation of the EU FP6 project SOPHIED, which she had managed for four years. Sophie’s coordination of this large project (125 people from 10 countries) represents a striking example for the leading role of women in the advancement of science.
Sophie’s mark on decision making bodies has to be mentioned. Through her participation in the European platform SUSCHEM, she had actively effected the preparation of the Strategic Research Agenda serving as one basis for the selection of the themes of the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission. Thanks to this work, a higher visibility in the calls of the next 7 years was achieved for environmental enzymology in the context of ‘White Biotechnology’, and particularly for oxidative enzymes.
Concerning OxiZymes, Sophie was acting as both a speaker and member of the scientific committee already since the first meeting in Napoli. We will miss her continuous support and enthusiastic contribution to the meeting.
Sophie had paid great attention to the promotion of young women in science. As a tribute to her person, the Sophie Vanhulle Prize has been awarded for the first time during the Leipzig meeting in 2010, in order to honour an excellent scientific contribution of a young woman and to promote young women in science.
The winner will be selected among female presenting authors not exceeding an age of 35 years (eligibility criterion) by a special committee. The committee will evaluate and rank submitted abstracts of applicants with respect to several criteria of excellence such as the originality of the presented work, its novelty and overall significance relative to the respective field, as well as the application of innovative, modern, and appropriate methodological approaches. The scientific track records of applicants will be considered in addition.
The prize will comprise:
Eligible candidates who want to apply should indicate this together with the submission of an abstract. They should further provide a scientific Curriculum Vitae (a list of scientific publications, patents, oral and poster presentations, awards achieved etc. should be included) at the time point of abstract submission.
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