BRUSSELS, Germany—Belgian chemicals producer Solvay S.A. researcher Sylvaine Neveu has won the Irene Joliot-Curie 2016 award for her work with silica.
Neveu, who works at the company's Research and Innovation (R&I) entity in charge of the development of products and processes for the Group's Global Business Unit Silica, was honored by the French Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Research in the category, “Woman, Research and Enterprise.”
For more than 12 years Neveu has managed “key value projects” for Solvay. The most emblematic, according to the company, is her work that led to the development of a new silica for low-energy pneumatic applications. In addition, she also operates a platform dedicated to the eco-friendly silica process created by Solvay.
“These projects are fully in line with the Group's sustainable development approach,” Solvay said, adding that today, more than 30 percent of the world's tires are made with “green” silica.
Another instrumental achievement of Neveu “was that she achieved perfect gender parity in her team. When she was first appointed, her team comprised only 20 percent of women,” according to the company.
“I am keen to share my knowledge and skills to promote the development of my team and of those who come to me for advice, without any discrimination,” Neveu said. “I hope to be a role model for other women in my career and also for men who still hesitate to promote women to management positions.”
Neveu graduated from Chimie ParisTech and holds a PhD in Process Engineering from the Ecole des Mines de Paris. She joined Solvay in 1994 and since has authored 17 patent families and leads the department in charge of the development and industrialization of new silica products and processes. In this context, Solvay said she is “keen to promote diversity in line with the values of the Group. Since 2008, Sylvaine has been working on projects to reduce the energy footprint and water consumption in the production of Solvay silicas.”
An Nuyttens, president of the Global Business Unit Silica Solvay, said the firm is “very proud to have Sylvaine in our silica business. Through her flawless professionalism and skills, she was able to bring innovation to a higher level with the help of her teams at Silica. This award is a true recognition of her scientific work and her outstanding leadership.”
The Irene Joliot-Curie award is intended to promote the role of women in research and technology in France. It highlights the exemplary careers of women scientists who combine excellence and dynamism. The Woman, Research and Enterprise category distinguishes a woman active in research and development who has developed scientific and/or technological innovations, Solvay said, while working in a company committed to promoting diversity.
Brussels-based Solvay is the inventor of Highly Dispersible Silicain the 1990s and a self-described “key player in energy-saving tires.” The company operates nine manufacturing sites and four R&I laboratories on as many continents.