The University of Malawi (UNIMA) has announced that it has a new Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Kalenga Saka (also of RISE-SABINA), who has replaced Dr. Emmuel Fabiano. Article here.
Since its establishment in 2005, the African Mathematics Millennium Science Initiative (AMMSI) has concentrated on promoting mathematics in Sub-Sahara African countries because, at the time of its establishment, it was anticipated that a Millennium Science project would be initiated for the Mediterranean countries, to involve Southern Europe and North Africa. The project never materialized. Over the years, there has been concern about exclusion of North Africa from AMMSI’s activities, particularly since some of the countries in this region are equally in need of the kind of support provided by AMMSI. Consequently, the AMMSI Programme Committee recently resolved to establish an AMMSI North Africa Region consisting of the following countries: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia. The country of South Sudan now becomes part AMMSI Eastern Africa, due to the close economic and political ties it has with Eastern Africa. The Programme Committee also approved the appointment of Prof. Nouzha El Yacoubi, of University Mohammed V – Agdal, Morocco, as the first AMMSI Regional Coordinator for North Africa.
The establishment of the North Africa Region will impact on AMMSI’s activities, including MARM, Postgraduate Scholarships (through IMU) and LMS-AMMSI Conference Grants.
RISE-AFNNET's Patrick Ogwang, a researcher at the National Chemotherapeutics Research Laboratory in Uganda, is featured in a 10 minute documentary clip on the anti-malarial tea he has been testing for his PhD through RISE. The video clip is viewable here.
Every year during August, coinciding with the nationwide celebration of women and their achievements, the department of science and technology (DST) hosts the South African Women in Science Awards (WISA) to recognise and reward the achievements of women scientists and researchers in South Africa.
The WISA finalists and winners are profiled as role models for younger women scientists and researchers, the aim being to dispel the myth that science is for men. The DST hopes that the achievements of the award winners will encourage other women to persevere in overcoming gender discrimination to contribute to research and knowledge generation.
We are sure that the finalists and winners will continue to develop the next generation of researchers by mentoring younger scientists, particularly women...Masixolise Pelly Malebe [of RISE-SABINA] graduated from the University of Pretoria with a BSc in human genetics and an MSc in biotechnology. She is currently enrolled at the University of Pretoria as a PhD candidate in biotechnology in the department of biochemistry. She worked as a teaching assistant during her honours and master’s studies and is a member of the Golden Key international honours society. Malebe’s curiosity as a young child led to her interest in science. She later realised that the answers to many of her questions could be found in genetics textbooks.
Full article on award winners is here (Pelly is on pages 7 and 8).
Wits congratulates Professors Lesley Cornish and David Block for winning under their categories in the 15th NSTF-BHP Billiton Awards. [Professor Cornish is the Principal Investigator for RISE-AMSEN.]
The University is proud of these ambassadors for science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) who were acknowledged for their exceptional contribution at a gala dinner on 27 June 2013.
In total twelve awards were presented by the Minister in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel, on behalf of the Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom. Article here.
Professor Lesley Cornish has been supervising or co-supervising students since 1990. While working at Mintek, she also co-supervised students at Wits and the University of the Western Cape, the latter under scarce skills.
Prior to 2003, she had graduated five PhD students and eight MSc students, of whom one was black and six were female. Since then, she has graduated five PhD students and 13 MSc students, of whom nine were black and four were female.
She was invited to take over the directorship of the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Strong Materials in 2007. Part of the purpose of the centre is to increase the number of South African students, especially black and female students.
In 2008, there was a call from Carnegie to establish a sub-Saharan network in a number of fields, including materials. Article here (page 9/10).
...Another program trying to help promising science and engineering students is the Regional Initiative in Science and Education (Rise). The program is trying to boost higher education in engineering and science across the continent, using international networks that connect universities, students, civil society and industry.
“The rationale behind the program,” said Arlen Hastings, executive director of the Science Initiative Group, which launched Rise, “was that there are many pockets of excellence around Africa, but there aren’t that many African universities, outside of South Africa, that have the capacity to provide comprehensive Ph.D. programs in science and engineering. However, if you take the elements, pieces from each of a bunch, you can put together a pretty strong education.”
Full article here.
For decades after sub-Saharan Africa’s emergence from the colonial era, its universities were weakened by civil strife and political turmoil.
Faculties of science and engineering declined as older professors retired faster than they were replaced; young graduates lacked financial support to complete their PhDs; professors lacked the resources to do research; and students and faculty alike found themselves professionally and geographically isolated from their peers.
Over the past decade, the urgency of this situation has become clear to institutions in Africa, and to some foundations and other donor organizations. I have had the privilege of chairing a small organization, the Science Initiative Group (SIG), that seeks to address these challenges. The objective of SIG, which consists of a board of international scientific experts and a small administrative office at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, is to help strengthen scientific capacity in developing countries. In partnership with Carnegie Corporation of New York, it supports a competitive program called the Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE) which allows post-graduate students and academic staff to work collaboratively and to advance in their professional careers.
RISE was designed during a series of discussions with African academic and scientific leaders. The more we learned about the damaging effects of academic isolation, the more strongly we saw the need for collaboration and partnerships. Therefore a defining feature of RISE is that it does not support individual people or institutions, but rather networks of academic institutions, each of which is required to have at least three member “nodes” in different countries. Five RISE networks were selected during a competition held in 2008 and judged by independent scientists. Although the scale of RISE is still small (we have supported about 140 students in the last five years), the program has become a credible model we hope to expand and strengthen in the coming years.
Full article here.
When John Mwero looks at charred sugar cane ash he sees sturdy bridges, soaring skyscrapers and stable roads. He's convinced that bagasse ash - the residue that's left after processors suck out the sugar and burn the cane, has the potential to make cement stronger and cheaper.
To test his hunch, Mwero is conducting research towards his PhD degree - and confronting multiple challenges. After two degrees at the University of Nairobi and several stints with area consultants and contractors, Mwero knew civil engineering was his niche.
But funds for doctoral students are limited, advisors are in short supply and critical research equipment may be unavailable or broken.
Many students take seven to 10 years to earn their degrees, which is a long time by the standards of African universities.
"If you need to do a test and there is no money," he says, " you have to go and work and get the money. You eat some of it and do other things with some and save a bit for research, so it becomes an uphill task."
Luckily for him, Mwero's work caught the attention of the Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE), which supports promising science and engineering students pursuing advanced degrees in sub-Saharan Africa. Through gifted scholars like Mwero, the program hopes to boost higher education in engineering and science across the continent - mainly through a series of international networks that connect universities, students, civil society and industry.
Full article here.
The Regional Initiative in Science and Education, or RISE, a programme aimed at boosting higher education in Africa in the sciences and engineering through postgraduate training, is likely to continue as the major donor has indicated the possibility of renewing its support that ends next year...
There are five RISE networks involving 13 universities and two research institutes in nine African countries, and they have grown over the past five years to involve not only academics but also civil society and industry. The networks select and train students, arrange conferences and exchanges and engage in research.
“The challenge for all of the networks, and for RISE as a whole, will be to raise sufficient funds to continue after grant funding from Carnegie Corporation is no longer available,” RISE Executive Director Arlen Hastings told University World News.