Emiko Hiyama, 42, a researcher on nuclear physics and recipient of this year's Saruhashi Award for female scientists, said she will continue to work hard so as to become "the world's No. 1" researcher in the field.

"It's just incredible that I was able to receive so soon the award I had long dreamed of," said the associate chief scientist at Riken's Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science. "It's like I am in a dream."

In late April, the Association for the Bright Future of Women Scientists announced that it will give her the 2013 Saruhashi Award for female researchers who have made remarkable achievements in the field of natural sciences.