Cambridge-Africa

CAPREx Fellow 2013-2014 Blog

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Professor Abasi Kiyimba, Literature

June 2014

During my initial visit to Cambridge, I read widely to strengthen my understanding of the supporting theories for my fellowship study of gender stereotypes in oral literature of two Uganda communities. I spent time doing provisional analysis of the available data. Late, I spent three months in Uganda doing additional fieldwork and cross-checked existing data. I have now returned to Cambridge to spend a further two months making final data analysis and writing up. I have a tentative chapter breakdown for the book I will publish, and by the time I leave Cambridge in mid-August (2014), I should have a draft manuscript ready for review by publishers. The study examines the way the oral literature of two Ugandan peoples (the Baganda and the Banyankore) reflects and sustains gender stereotypes that originate from and relate to culture and tradition. The major difference between this work and earlier studies, which have mainly focussed on female stereotypes, is that it examines the stereotyping of men as well.

Research project: Gender stereotypes in the oral literature of two Ugandan communities.

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Dr Richard Osei-Amponsah, Animal Science

April 2014

On 9th April, 2014, I was privileged to be part of a group of ten African academics, who are carrying out research at the University of Cambridge, to be invited by the Biosciences for Farming in Africa (B4FA) programme to a luncheon at the House of Lords hosted by Lord Cameron of Dillington. The purpose of the luncheon was to interact with the Lords, the media and other scientists on the role biosciences can play in tackling the challenges of food security and poverty in Africa. We had a good time and were addressed by Lord Cameron of Dillington and Lord Paul Boateng who has Ghanaian roots. They both encouraged us on the need to work together and help ensure food security in Africa. The event was very useful to me as someone with great interest in biosciences and undertaking a postdoctoral research involving the use of genomic tools to identify unique traits of local animal genetic resources in Ghana and their conservation. I also had the opportunity to network with important stakeholders with whom I can work together and exchange ideas on future projects to enhance science education and food security in Africa. Finally, I was encouraged that people in positions of authority in the UK are concerned of food insecurity problems in Africa and are prepared to team up with stakeholders to help find appropriate, safe and sustainable solutions to them.

Research project: Genetic diversity, linkage disequilibrium & genomic selection of the ashanti dwarf pig of Ghana.

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Dr Euzobia Mugisha-Baine, Education

March 2014

"Since my arrival in Cambridge three weeks ago, I have been warmly welcomed by the CAPREx coordinator and other CAPREx Fellows. My collaborators have very busy schedules but the few meetings we have had have been fantastic in starting me off with my project. I have also been given an office space at the Faculty of Education, with access to computing services and the library. The librarians there are also friendly and quite helpful. I have been able to attend a number of seminars at the Centre for African Studies, King’s College and the Faculty of Education. Most of these seminars focus on research being done in Africa through collaboration between Cambridge University and African Institutions. These seminars have given me the opportunity to get a feel for the variety of research currently taking place on the continent with input from Cambridge, and help to place my own research within this framework."

Research project: From Entry to Exit: A comparative study of Internal Quality Assurance Systems in Graduate Training in Makerere University, University of Ghana and Cambridge University.

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Dr Ferdinand Katsriku, Engineering

March 2014

"It has been two weeks since my arrival at Cambridge. I must say this is a wonderful place. I have had a very warm reception by CAPREx and by my department. I consider myself very fortunate to have had this opportunity to work alongside some of the very best people in the area. Despite their busy schedules, I have had the opportunity to meet with my collaborators to discuss the work I will be doing and some of the potential challenges. I have also been shown around the labs and it is just amazing. The guys here are doing great stuff. My research sub group is wonderful, with people from many different nationalities, Russia, China, Greece and of course Britain. I have also in the two weeks attended a number of talks mainly about Africa and had the opportunity to meet other fellows. I really look forward to having a wonderful time here."

Research project: Generation of Ultra Short Optical Pulses Using Graphene as Saturable Absorber.

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Professor Andrew Ellias State, Dr Augustine Ocloo, & Dr Richard Osei-Amponsah

February 2014

All of the aboved named Fellows reguarly attened the Cambridge-Africa seminar series talks held at the University of Cambridge, during their fellowship visits. The talks cover a wide range of disciplines, and all concern the African continent. At the most recent talk on the economic development of Africa, Dr Richard Osei-Amponsah commented, "I think we should encourage the countries in Africa who are doing the right things and attracting foreign investments to talk more, so that hopefully other countries will make the much needed reforms. Brazil, Malaysia, etc. have all made progress because these are individual countries, Africa is a whole continent.

I think it will be difficult to change the whole of Africa at once - the focus should be country by country. Those of us who are very fortunate to have some education should do our best to contribute to such efforts in our various countries".

Research projects:
Professor Andrew State: Emergence of social protest movements and the strengthening of democratic governance in Uganda.
Dr Augustine Ocloo: Mitochondria as pharmacological targets for pharmacological and toxicological evaluation of medicinal plant extracts.
Dr Richard Osei-Amponsah: Genetic diversity, linkage disequilibrium & genomic selection of the ashanti dwarf pig of Ghana.

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Dr Umar Kakumba, Development Management

November 2013

"The 2013 Development Studies Association (DSA) Conference held at the University of Birmingham 15-16 November 2013 was concluded on a great note with over 270 participants from all over the World, including academics, researchers, development workers and practitioners from public sector organisations, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and graduate students.

Over 80 research works and critical review papers were presented in 12 different work streams and 33 panel sessions. The opening and closing plenary earmarked issues of Inequality, Social process and Development Policy. It was a great experience for me to participate in work-stream discussions on: Public engagement; Social Policy, Poverty Reduction and Welfare; Innovation and Business; Development Cooperation and Aid, and Regional Development Issues - focussing on Africa and the developing world. Thumbs up to CAPREx for facilitating my attendance at this international conference during my Fellowship visit to Cambridge!"

Research project: Human Resources Retention in Uganda's Local Government: Review of Policy and Institutional Mechanisms With Lessons From The British Experience.

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Dr Richard Osei-Amponsah, Animal Science

November 2013

"All glory to God and congratulations to the Cambridge-Africa programme and the entire CAPREx organisation for this noble initiative that has made my dream of studying at Cambridge a reality. I am extremely grateful for the collaboration and the opportunity it offers to work with some of the world’s best brains in swine breeding. My collaborators, Prof. Nabeel Affara and Dr. Carole Sargent of the mammalian molecular genetics group at the Department of Pathology have already made me part of a great team and I am humbled by their desire to learn about local animal genetic resources in Ghana. My research proposal has been discussed and a plan of work agreed on. I look forward to making the best of this opportunity to help improve human and institutional capacity in animal genomic selection and breeding in Ghana. I also hope to forge appropriate partnerships to sustain the link between the University of Ghana and Cambridge which should hopefully benefit generations unborn. Merry Christmas to all of you!"

Research project: Genetic diversity, linkage disequilibrium & genomic selection of the ashanti dwarf pig of Ghana.

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Dr Andrew Ellias State, Sociology

October 2013

"When I read about a talk by Professor Lord Anthony Giddens during the Cambridge ‘Festival of Ideas’ entitled, “Off the edge of history: the world in the 21st century”, I was thrilled that I would get a chance to be in the same room as the famous Sociologist. Many a time I have read his publications while I was still in graduate school, which enabled me to use some of his materials in my Political Sociology and Social Movement classes I teach these days, especially his famous Reith Lecture Series; the Runaway World. His recent talk in Cambridge was a dreamlike encounter, listening to him speak about todays civilization, and unlike the past, civilisation has greatly intruded into the natural world, meaning people face several challenges and risks. He argued that human beings have intruded too much in the natural world, that the natural world almost feels naked without civilisation, for example,without the use of a mobile phone, one feels naked. The Festival of Ideas and CAPREx have offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet and ask questions to the academic greats. It was also a great honor to speak to and have photo opportunity with one of the greatest sociologists of modern times, Lord Anthony Giddens (see photo to the right)".

Research project: Emergence of social protest movements and the strengthening of democratic governance in Uganda.

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Dr Theresa Manful, Biochemistry

October 2013

"Apart from the wet weather, it has been a wonderful 3 weeks in Cambridge. I started my first official day by trying to find my way to the Department of Biochemistry, which I did with only very little difficulty because I was a bit familiar with the environment since I have previously visited Cambridge. When I arrived at the Department, I met my collaborator, Dr Mark Carrington, who warmly welcomed me and introduced me to the members of his lab. The group members have been of tremendous help in showing me around Cambridge and so far I have done a lot of “fun things” with them. I have started work on my project “The epidemiology of lifetime infections with trypanosomes in individual cattle in Ghana” and I am already getting some interesting results that will be used for part of the project in Ghana. I am very happy to be working in the lab again after almost two years of teaching and I am sure it’s going to be a nice research time in Cambridge".

Research project: The epidemiology of lifetime infections with trypanosomes in individual cattle in Ghana.

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Dr William Tayeebwa, Politics & International Studies

September 2013

"It is a very humbling experience to be finally in Cambridge, where big thinkers have thought big thoughts for decades! Every part of the environment I interact with - from the centurian brick and stone buildings, to century-old trees, to pavements, to allays and waterways - exudes big thinking. King's College, literally a living museum, is amazingly majestic and intimidating. Residing at Wolfson College feels like living in a Botanical Garden! The variety of plants is spectacular; and that from a Ugandan, whose country Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill named the Pearl of Africa, owing to the beauty of her fauna and flora. Yet, Wolfson College is also at the juncture of modernity. My office in the Centre of African Studies neighbours the Centres of South Asian Studies and Latin American Studies. As I settle into this amazing environment to think big thoughts and write those thoughts about the prospects of conciliatory radio in the turbulent African Great Lakes region, I look forward to enjoying academic fellowship with colleagues in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). The fellowship at University of Cambridge will also help me strengthen the synergy with two other projects I am working on with NORHED and CODESRIA".

Research project: Framing Peace: Exploring Conciliatory Radio Programming in Burundi and Uganda.

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Dr Umar Kakumba, Development Management

September 2013

"My first two weeks at Cambridge University as a CAPREx Research Fellow have been exhilarating! My arrival was shrouded by a mixture of anxiety and great expectations – for Cambridge’s name is synonymous with many crowns! Cambridge is the personification of the World’s top and prestigious Universities, the King of Europe, and a semblance of the epitome of knowledge and sanctity of academic achievement. The anxiety was nonetheless flushed out in a flicker on arrival, courtesy of the warmest reception by the Fellowship Coordinator, Ms. Mackay; the team at the Centre of African Studies, led by Senior Administrator Ms. Jones; and later my collaborator, Dr. Shailaja Fennel from the Centre of Development Studies. The porters at Wolfson College too have been versatile, attending to you with full glamour and enthusiasm! My project being a comparative analysis of policy and institutional mechanisms on HR retention at local governments in the UK and Uganda, I hope to interface with the County local authorities in East Anglia region, namely; Cambridgeshire, Essex, Bedfordshire, and Hertfordshire. I expect to churn out a couple of publications from the project and build a network of future academic exchange and collaborations in research and publication from the Cambridge fellowship. Great pleasure to CAPREx and all support agencies for the Cambridge-African Partnership".

Research project: Human Resources Retention in Uganda's Local Government: Review of Policy and Institutional Mechanisms With Lessons From The British Experience

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Dr Augustine Ocloo, Biochemistry

August 2013

"For me the collaboration has gone very well and smoothly. The climax was when Dr. Murray made his contribution to my Alborada proposal and few weeks after that we heard that we were successful. This meant that my dream of buying and assembling a functional oxygen electrode is finally becoming reality. The communication with the CAPREx office has also been very smooth and questions were answered within the shortest possible time. Having already stayed in Cambridge for six years, the feeling of returning to my alma mater is quiet simple. Not much expectations or worries. The only worry is whether having left the bench work for quite some time, I will be able to readjust to life on the bench. I am expecting to have a good collaboration with Dr. Murray, publishing one or two papers from the work I will do in Cambridge and exploring the possibility of winning some few more grants with him".

Research project: Mitochondria as pharmacological targets for pharmacological and toxicological evaluation of medicinal plant extracts.

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Dr David Dodoo-Arhin

July 2013

"I am doing very well and settling in quiet fast in Cambridge. The group members at the Centre for Advance Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) are very welcoming and have been of tremendous help. It feels like I have known them for years! I feel very much at home especially when the group communicates fluently in both Italian and English, this is "Little Italy" you know!! The induction, safety training, risk assessment and most importantly the orderly way that research work is done here, in carefully monitored and controlled conditions, is really a life time experience for me. I have never experienced this whilst doing my PhD studies and other post doc placements. Some of the chemicals and items that I need for my research project have already started arriving. It promises to be a good research time here in Cambridge and I am hoping for the best, thanks to CAPREX!!!!!"

Research project: Graphene based natural dye sensitized solar cells.