International Day of Women and Girls in Science: learning from female leaders in and around science

By DSM Pharma Solutions Editors
  • Female scientists have been instrumental across all realms of science and technology, leading to some of the earth's biggest discoveries. Today, women continue to lead ground-breaking research in all corners of the world. At DSM, we believe in fostering an inclusive culture that embraces differences to help create a more diverse workforce and help improve our decision-making process and ultimately, our innovation.
  • To commemorate this year’s UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we have spoken with women from different regions in DSM who work in and around science to uncover what sparks the passion behind their careers.
  • Read on to explore the inspiring experiences of DSM’s female scientists and discover how their technical ingenuity is innovating the world we live in. 

Women have been trailblazers in science for centuries. From determining the size of the universe to unlocking the secrets of the genetic code, these women have forever changed the way we see our world.1 The names of these pioneering women have been neglected in history, and many of their discoveries unrecognized. 

Still today, women are underrepresented in cutting-edge fields and their work understated in high-profile journals.2 Female scientists are often passed over for promotion, typically given smaller research grants than their male colleagues and have shorter, less-well paid careers. With women in science representing less than 30% of researchers globally, there is still a significant amount of progress required to reach gender equality in this field.3

DSM is working towards closing the gender gap in science by empowering our female researchers, ensuring they do not remain nameless. That’s why, in light of the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science we are spotlighting some of our leading female leaders at DSM working in and around science to learn from their experiences and acknowledge their achievements that are advancing their individual fields. These women represent every female across the globe progressing in science, from the passionate beginners to the game-changing experts that are transforming the world we live in.

The passion behind the profession 

To find out what motivates our team of dedicated female leaders at DSM, we asked them why they’re passionate about their jobs driven by science. Many of them spoke about the opportunities they have to translate the needs of consumers into solutions, to ultimately improve people’s lives, while also inspiring their colleagues through diverse and optimistic perspectives. 

Aakanksha Nayyar, Marketing Manager at DSM Health, Nutrition and Care South Asia told us about the driving force behind her passion: “I believe that science and purpose can together help decode the issues we face in the developing nations. At DSM we use bright science to ensure brighter living for millions of people worldwide, but we don’t stop there. We also guarantee that the solutions we create are designed with purpose front of mind!”

The impact of science on society

Scientific knowledge fuels innovation and allows us to build new technologies that create a foundation upon which improvements in global health are built. To help us understand what this means for society, we asked the opinions of our leading female scientists.

Sonia Hartunian-Sowa, PhD, Director of Science, Translation and Advocacy at DSM North America: “Scientific discovery has shaped nutrition, leading to new nutritional products with health benefits that improve people’s lives. For example, in the 1970s scientists discovered the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) for heart, brain and eye health. Since then, we have developed nutritional solutions using these fatty acids to support human health across the life span.”

With a similar focus on the impact of science on nutrition, Marta Pagliari, scientist at DSM Global Application Center in Switzerland told us the story of how scientific discovery has revolutionized the role of vitamins in global health: “Vitamins are essential micronutrients that are normally obtained through diet as they cannot be synthesized by the body. However, in some cases such as pregnancy, old age, or certain health conditions, we need an additional boost to reach the required levels of vitamins necessary for optimal health. Advances is science and technology have led to the availability of a set of vitamin supplements that can help people reach optimal levels throughout all stages of life.”

How are women shaping the future of DSM?

Driving innovation in infant nutrition 

Currently 1 in 10 babies are born pre-term globally and premature birth is the number one cause of death among infants and children under the age of five. Even among the babies that survive premature birth, many face lifelong deleterious consequences. To reduce the risk of preterm birth and give babies the best start in life, DSM’s team of scientists are continuously developing nutritional solutions for moms-to-be and babies. Kristen Finn, Lead Scientist in Early Life Nutrition, is committed to supporting the health of mothers and infants through nutrition: “At DSM, we understand that omega-3 DHA supplementation during pregnancy reduces the risk of preterm birth which could save lives and improve outcomes for the 15 million babies who are born preterm each year. That’s why it is our mission to improve access to DHA supplements for pregnant women. Another area we are driving innovation in early life nutrition is human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) - the second largest solid component of human milk. Thanks to new advancements in science, the emerging health benefits of HMOs can be leveraged to support immunity, gut health, and even brain development in infants.”

Breaking boundaries in medical nutrition 

DSM views science as a crucial means by which we can support the sustainable transformation of the global food chain, overcoming resource scarcity and addressing the challenges in reducing malnutrition globally. Camile Woitiski, Head of Innovation at DSM Health, Nutrition and Care, Latin America discusses how she has been pushing the boundaries in medical nutrition, reducing medical complications and promoting recovery and independence. “The scientific knowledge and the application of new technologies in my area of responsibility enable the development of tailored solutions that help to overcome common barriers to nutritional intake and optimize dietary management in patient care.”

Overcoming critical formulation challenges

Since the discovery of potentially carcinogenic nitrosamine contaminants in commonly prescribed drug products, mitigation strategies to remove these harmful impurities and abide by new regulatory requirements, has become front of mind for many pharmaceutical manufacturers. Marta Pagliari, scientist at DSM Global Application Center, Switzerland tells us of her work, formulating strategies to address the pressing nitrosamine situation: “Many companies want to find solutions to reduce nitrosamine impurities within their pharmaceutical products, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to a possible resolution. We have developed a portfolio of high-quality, GMP-compliant antioxidants – ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol – that might prevent the formation of potentially carcinogenic impurities”.

Women driven by science at DSM share a similar goal – creating brighter lives for all. Together, our scientific expertise and innovation power is doing just that. Beyond this, we’re working towards overcoming some of the world’s biggest challenges by working in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure a bright future for the global population and the planet. 

Learn more about our innovation and scientific expertise that enables our customers to continuously grow to new levels of success.


  1. 22 pioneering women in science history you really should know about. BBC Science Focus Magazine. Available at: [Last accessed: February 2023]
  2. United Nations, International Day of Women and Girls in Science, 11 February. Available at: [Last accessed: February 2023]
  3. Women in Science. 2023 UNESCO Institute of Statistics. Available at: [Last accessed: February 2023]

Published on

09 February 2023

6 minutes

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