THEY BEAT 700 OTHERS

Kenyan researchers win Sh39 million each in study grants

The scientists were selected from a competitive pool of more than 700 applicants.

In Summary

•Dr Ezekiel Mugendi of Kenyatta University will use root-associated microorganisms to enhance sustainable crop production and beat  climate change.

•The sponsors also announced the opening of the next round of Flair applications, closing on May 15, 2019.

AAS said their research would be published in open access format.
AAS said their research would be published in open access format.
Image: FILE

Kenyan researchers are among 30 early career African scientists awarded about Sh39 million (US$391,500) each to address local problems for the next two years.

The scientists were selected from a competitive pool of more than 700 applicants.

Their research will range from providing renewable energy solutions and addressing climate change, to tackling food security and targeting health and environmental problems.

The scholarship programme, called Future Leaders – African Independent Research, is a brainchild of the African Academy of Sciences and UK’s Royal Society, with support from the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund.

“It is designed to help talented early-career researchers, whose science is focused on the needs of the continent, establish independent careers in African institutions and ultimately, their own research groups,” AAS said in a statement.

AAS President Prof Felix Dakora said the programme would inspire African institutions to critically think about the role of and defining postdoctoral programmes that suit their needs and purpose.

AAS said their research would be published in open access format.

The three academies also announced the opening of the next round of Flair applications, closing on May 15, 2019.

“This year, the academies want to encourage more applications from under-represented countries, particularly Francophone and Lusophone countries,” AAS said.

Prof Richard Catlow, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, said: “Fostering science and innovation for social benefit and prosperity is key to the wellbeing of any society, and investing in Africa’s scientific talent holds the greatest potential to tackle global challenges and improve quality of life.”

Among the Kenyans is Dr Ezekiel Mugendi of Kenyatta University. His research will use root-associated microorganisms to enhance sustainable crop production and resilience of smallholder agroecosystems to climate change.

Kanyiva Muindi,  of the African Population and Health Research Centre, seeks to introduce ethanol as a cleaner, more sustainable fuel source and introduce this to homes throughout Kenya and other African countries.

Another Kenyan, Cecil King’ondu of the Botswana International University of Science and Technology, proposes the use of super capacitors to process the water more efficiently to meet standards and legitimise the use of biodiesel throughout Africa.

Francis Wamonje, of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, plans to sequence the diversity of these viruses to introduce a strain to reduce aphid populations pesticide-free.

Other researchers are drawn from countries including Cameroon, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe.