Dundee researcher honoured with prestigious award

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A University of Dundee researcher has been presented with a prestigious science award from the British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG).

Azul Zorzoli, a PhD student from Argentina, has received the Johnstone and Florence Stoney Prize, which recognises outstanding academic excellence in postgraduate researchers.

Her current research at the Helge Dorfmueller Laboratory focuses on understanding the basic biology of the Group A Streptococcus, a microorganism that causes 500,000 deaths a year worldwide. Recently, she discovered a new enzyme which could prove crucial in the fight against this bacterium.

The 38-year-old researcher is one of seven winners to be honoured by the BFWG following a competitive nomination process which saw more than 240 submissions to the global graduate network.

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Established in 1907, the BFWG aims to promote women’s opportunities in education and public life. BFWG awards are conferred based on the candidate’s outstanding academic excellence.

Azul said, “I’m incredibly proud to have been honoured with this award. The BFWG is an organisation that promotes women in science and education and defends values that mirror my own, such as gender equality in the workplace and empowerment of those interested in the sciences.

“Applying for the award was a brilliant experience, and I recommend it to all graduate students. After being shortlisted for the prize, I presented my work to a panel of academics from different fields. This award was also an excellent opportunity to reflect on my career path and future projects.

“I’m a proud member of the Helge Dorfmueller Laboratory here in Dundee, and I’m excited for what the future holds for our research.”

Azul is now working with her team and the University’s Drug Discovery Unit to develop compounds that could target their newly discovered enzyme. These investigations will aid the development of a new class of antimicrobial drug that could completely inhibit or reduce the enzyme’s activity and as a consequence, fight the Group A Streptococcus infections.

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