Five African scientists who completed their doctorates through the Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE) scholarships have each won US$25,000 to create, expand and improve university-based research groups.

The winners of the RISE Competitive Fund were announced during an event in Kenya in April 2016 to celebrate the accomplishments of RISE and mark its transition to a new phase as a fully Africa-owned initiative.

The five scientists and their nationalities are (See Article Cover Image):

  • Adenike Olaseinde, Nigeria;
  • Benjamin Kumwenda, Malawi;
  • Jane Tanner, South Africa;
  • Majuto Manyilizu, Tanzania and;
  • Jane Namukobe, Uganda.

RISE is a project of the Science Initiative Group (SIG), an organisation dedicated to fostering science in developing countries, and based at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, in the United States.

“This award is very important as it will enable us to do quality research and train students.” - Adenike Olaseinde, Federal University of Technology, Akure

Sarah Rich, a program associate at SIG, says that the grants are aimed at enabling RISE scholars in African universities to develop sustainable research groups with the capacity to pursue collaborative projects with unique and impactful contribution to advance scientific and engineering knowledge.

The winners plan to generate research projects, raise funds and strategise to move beyond the one-year phase supported by RISE fund. RISE is funded by the US-based Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Olaseinde, a faculty member at the Federal University of Technology, Akure in Nigeria, says she has established a materials and electrical research engineering group in Africa. Members of her group are from Botswana, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.

“We will study metals and non-metals like alloy to develop data and materials for applications in various settings in Africa,” she said.

“This award is very important as it will enable us to do quality research and train students. RISE has opened new hopes for me and I can’t imagine managing my PhD if it were not for it.”

Olaseinde explains that her research group will develop materials from Africa for Africa such as those for use in construction and energy sectors, research that makes impacts on people’s lives.

“Science is very key in African development and Africa-oriented science … needs to be done for better economies and lifestyles,” she says.

According to Kumwenda, a lecturer at the University of Malawi College of Medicine, he will use the grant to develop bioinformatics groups in Malawi for application of computational technology to solve biological or medical problems.

They will also train graduate students in bioinformatics using the fund to support other projects including in multi-drug resistance in humans.

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