8 March 2024

Happy International Women’s Day!  This day  is a reminder to recognize and appreciate the invaluable contribution of women in shaping our world.

On this occasion we present 8 female NAWA beneficiaries, who are advancing their scientific careers thanks to NAWA programmes. We hope that their success stories will inspire female scientists to start or continue their scientific careers and to take advantage of NAWA’s programmes, which help them fulfill their scientific dreams on a daily basis.

Dr. Shiho Sakurayama is working as a post-doc in the Department of Pathophysiology, Forensic Veterinary Medicine and Administration at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn as part of the Ulam NAWA programme.

Her research is based on the zebrafish, which, unlike mammals, is able to regenerate its entire body. The research group to which Dr Sakurayama belongs – Zebrafish Team UWM Olsztyn – has focused on single neuropeptides in the fish to investigate its effects on spinal cord regeneration. This could lead to the development of new therapies for spinal cord regeneration in humans.

“Through the Ulam NAWA programme, I’ve met outstanding female researchers who are now my role models. Many female researchers around me balance research careers with raising children. Most importantly, nearby role models have boosted my confidence in balancing child-rearing with my career, thereby enhancing my motivation” – she says.


Dr. Tinotenda Mangadze is also beneficiary of the Ulam NAWA programme. Currently she conducting research at Poznan University of Life Sciences, Poland, focusing on enhancing our understanding and management of aquatic ecosystems. Initially, she investigated the adaptation of Polish aquatic monitoring systems for Southern African watercourses through extensive data gathering and botanical studies. Her findings, outlined in a journal article, underscore the practicality and effectiveness of cross-continental methodologies for monitoring Southern African watercourses.

The Ulam NAWA program has played a pivotal role in Dr. Mangadze’s professional journey, elevating her standing within the scientific community and providing invaluable opportunities for collaboration and networking. Thanks to the program that brought Dr. Mangadze to Europe, she has had the opportunity to expand her horizons and establish partnerships with experts worldwide. This experience has been instrumental in her personal growth and has advanced her career in science.


Dr. Agnieszka Drobniak returned to Poland thanks to the NAWA: Polish Returns programme after more than 20 years of experience at Indiana University Bloomington in the USA.

At the University of Silesia in Katowice, she and her research team created the Centre for Biomass Energy Research and Education, which aims to conduct interdisciplinary research on biomass energy and public education on its safe and environmentally friendly use.

Working in Poland as part of an interdisciplinary and international team allows her to pursue new research ideas and gain more qualifications, as well as expand her scientific cooperation with universities in Poland and Europe.


Milena Deptuła, PhD, Assistant professor in the Laboratory of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at the Department of Embryology, Medical University of Gdańsk, as part of the Bekker NAWA programme, completed a three-month postdoctoral fellowship at the Transplantation Research Immunology Group at the University of Oxford. Her current research concerns wound healing and regenerative medicine.

Her participation in the internship at the University of Oxford enabled her to expand her knowledge in immunology and flow cytometry. She is applying the knowledge and skills she has gained to her current research and plans to use them in future projects.

As she says, the Bekker NAWA programme has given her the opportunity to work in an international team, at one of the best universities in the world. It is a great opportunity that certainly enables her to grow academically.


Joanna Dyduch, PhD, Professor at the Institute for Near and Far Eastern Studies of the Jagiellonian University and Head of the Israel Department within the Bekker NAWA programme, carried out a research project entitled ‘Trajectories of Polish-Israeli relations: from partnership to crisis (2004-2020)’ at the Centre for Jewish and Hebrew Studies at Oxford University.

The aim of the project was to analyse the changes that have taken place in the field of Polish-Israeli bilateral relations, taking into account the multilateral context.

She particularly recommends participation to those who have an idea for a research project, but need time and space for in-depth theoretical reflection, intensive empirical research and engagement in constructive and critical debate with other scholars from world-leading academic centres.


Agata Chudzik, PhD, Professor at the Medical University of Lublin, thanks to the Walczak NAWA programme, completed a six-month internship at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in 2023.

The topics of her research focus on neuroscience. They mainly concern the microbiome-gut-brain axis and depressive disorders, as well as the biology of glioblastoma multiforme.

During the trip, she gained valuable experience in the way research is conducted in world-class research units and became familiar with a range of new research techniques.


Alla Kravchuk, PhD, Professor and Head of the Department of Polish Philology at the Ivan Franko National University in Lviv, is carrying out a research and teaching project aimed at proving that the mutual (two-way) transfer of experience and knowledge between Polish linguistics and glottodidactics is effective for the development of both disciplines.

For her, the POLONISTA programme is first and foremost an opportunity to discuss the Polish language and Polish linguistics in an atmosphere of friendly communication with colleagues and students from Poland and Ukraine. In these conversations and discussions, in active and fruitful cooperation, new ideas are born, which give joy, fill with optimism and intensify the desire to further explore the language – in order to develop and contribute to the development of Polish linguistic glottodidactics.


Prof. Lubov Zhwanko, PhD, head of the Museum Centre of the State Biotechnological University in Kharkiv, carried out the project ‘Polish architects in Kharkiv in the 19th and early 20th centuries – fate, work, legacy’ within the framework of the POLONISTA NAWA programme at the Institute of Veterinary Medicine of the Faculty of Biological and Veterinary Sciences of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun.

According to her, participation in the  POLONISTA NAWA programme has undoubtedly allowed her to enter a new level in the realisation and development of her scientific career, as the working conditions provide an opportunity for total immersion in the process of scientific research. It is a path to new professional achievements and new contacts.



To all women: Your strength shapes the future. Keep shining, keep inspiring.