The Transformative Power of African Research


Author: Kari Mugo

Today, May 25th marks Africa Day. Conceived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 56 years ago as African independence was being ushered onto the continent, Africa Day offers a chance to celebrate all things Africa. On a continent with nearly 1 billion people and 54 diverse countries there is no shortage of achievements to be honored from music to sports to technology to leadership.

As a research institution, Mawazo takes the opportunity to celebrate the African researchers whose innovations and findings are creating a future that centers African solutions to African problems. Our 2018 PhD Scholars represent a diversity of fields, with each of them focused on tackling areas of research that are crucial to our Kenyan and African identities and livelihoods.

  1. Meet Peris Ambala, a molecular virologist whose research uses molecular tools to study zoonotic viruses, such as Ebola and Marburg virus in Laikipia County, Kenya. Peris’ research is filling important knowledge gaps, and supporting the prevention and control of filoviruses in potentially susceptible regions of the country.

  2. Meet Marilyn Ronoh, a mathematician concerned about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Using mathematical modeling, her research will help the government and stakeholders make more accurate projections and allocate resources more effectively to address the spread of HIV/AIDS among adolescents and young adults in Kenya.

  3. Meet Edinah Song’oro, a geneticist whose research studies the prevalence of anti-microbial resistant genes in various environmental sites in Kenya. Edinah’s research will help increase our understanding of how this impacts spread of resistance into human and animal populations, and inform efforts to reduce the burden of infections caused by environmental microorganisms such as bacteria.

  4. Meet Melisa Alela, a storyteller and interactive media design maven. Melisa believes that her research makes a conceptual and technical contribution in the use of emerging technologies, such as Virtual Reality for the preservation of intangible African cultural heritage, which includes oral storytelling.

  5. Meet Winnie Nyamboki, a health economist whose research will provide sound economic analysis on the burden of the four major classes of illness and injury in Kenya, contributing important evidence for policy interventions at both the national and county levels.

  6. Meet Elizabeth Benson, a computer scientist creating a dynamic traffic flow model that incorporates real-world data from Nairobi’s network of smart traffic cameras, improving predictability and helping helping ease traffic congestion in Nairobi and similar smart cities.

  7. Meet Jacqueline Owigo, a migration policy expert. Her research focuses on return migration, and highlights the experiences of Somali returnees – such as deportees, disengaged combatants, returning refugees and diasporans – with a view to identifying areas for policy intervention that may be effective in improving reintegration outcomes globally.

  8. Meet Judith Koskey, an environmental scientist analyzing the state of environmental degradation in the Njoro River watershed. Judith’s research will provide recommendations for effective approaches to conserve the area while securing livelihoods of local communities.

  9. Meet Teresiah Njihia, an entomologist with a passion for coffee farmers. Her work is supporting the development of affordable and non-toxic pesticides for coffee farming by manipulating the chemical cues involved in interspecific (plantinsect) and intraspecific (insect-insect) communication of pests.

  10. Meet Susan Gichuna, sustainable urban development expert. Her research studies how increasing climate variability, such as flooding and extreme heat, affect urban commuter travel behaviour in Nairobi. Through her findings, Susan will inform future planning and policy, supporting enhanced climate resilience in Kenya’s urban transportation sector.