The Transformative Power of African Research

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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, using molecular tools, is filling knowledge gaps around filoviruses in Kenya. Her findings will be crucial to improving prevention, control and treatment of zoonotic viruses such as Ebola and Marbug in Kenya

  2. Meet Marilyn Ronoh, a mathematician concerned about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Using mathematical modeling, her research is helping to predict HIV re-emergence. Allowing government and stakeholders to make accurate projections and budget estimates to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.

  3. Meet Edinah Song’oro, a geneticist at the forefront of the study of antimicrobial resistant genes which pose a major threat to effective treatment of an increasing range of infections. Her research is increasing understanding of the relationship between resistance in the environment and spread of antimicrobial resistance in human and animal populations.  

  4. Meet Melisa Alela, a storyteller and interactive media design maven. Melisa believes that new technologies should be leveraged to preserve African oral traditions of storytelling. Through her research into animation systems including virtual reality, she is preserving Africa’s intangible cultural heritage.

  5. Meet Winnie Nyamboki, a health economist interested in healthier and more productive workforces. Her research into how specific types of acute illness, relevant to Kenya, affect the labour market will provide important evidence for investment targeting specific diseases at both National and County levels.

  6. Meet Elizabeth Benson, a computer scientist whose research may mean less time spent in Nairobi’s grueling traffic. Using statistical and Decision Tree modeling, her research is creating a hybrid traffic model that can better predict traffic patterns in order to ease congestion in cities like Nairobi.  

  7. Meet Jacqueline Owigo, a migration policy expert. Her research focuses on return migration, an increasingly salient policy issue in our times. By studying Somali returnees, Jacqueline hopes to identify areas for policy intervention that may be effective in improving reintegration outcomes across the globe.

  8. Meet Judith Koskey, an environmental specialist interested in the preservation of the critical Njoro River watershed in Kenya’s Rift Valley. Judith’s research will give important information on the impact of ongoing conservation efforts and provide recommendations on the best mechanisms for conserving the watershed, while improving livelihoods.

  9. Meet Teresiah Njihia, an entomologist with a passion for coffee farmers. Her research is developing new control options for the Antestia bug which affects coffee yields. Her findings will provide an alternative to costly and toxic pesticides and be useful in the study other insects which are pests or vectors of disease or beneficial insects, such as bees.

  10. Meet Susan Gichuna, sustainable urban development expert. Her research into how climate change impacts, such as flooding and extreme heat, affect urban commuter travel behaviour responses will inform future urban transport policy and planning. With the goal of enhancing climate resilience of urban transport and commuters in Kenya.