Cambridge-Africa

CAPREx Fellows 2014-2015 Blog

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Dr Osbourne Quaye, Biological Sciences

August 2015

My experiences as a CAPREx Fellow undertaking my fellowship at the University of Cambridge have been remarkably good. My research study is on the characterization of Group A rotaviruses in farm animals in Ghana, in collaboration with Drs. Barbara Blacklaws and Caroline Trotter, both of the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge. In the lab, I have been able to culture rotavirus strains, developed a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay for the detection of rotaviruses, used the developed assay to detect rotavirus in farm animal stool samples, and subsequently characterized the rotavirus strains by conventional PCR and nucleotide sequencing. It has been exciting long hours and days in the lab, in generating all the data that I have thus far obtained. The data generated have made it possible to: (1) present updates at the CAPREx Showcase and Annual General Meeting at the University of Cambridge and Makerere University, respectively, (2) submit an abstract that secured an oral presentation at the Collaboration on Diagnosis of Emerging Viruses (CoDEV) conference in Nottingham, UK, (3) submit an abstract to the Double-stranded RNA (dsrna) 2015 Symposium to be held in Goa, India; the abstract has since been accepted and have been awarded a travel grant to attend the Symposium, (4) present a poster at the Poster Day session of the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, and (5) submit an abstract to attend the UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit to be held in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition to the activities that are directly related to my research study at the University of Cambridge, I also attended the 2015 International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases (isntd) conference held in London, UK, participated in the Immunology Ph.D. and Postdoctoral Day for the Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, attended several cutting-edge scientific research seminars at different Departments at the University of Cambridge, and had a two-day training session on R program. The time in Cambridge has also provided me with the congenial environment to write two manuscripts from previously generated data, one of which has been submitted for publication and is under journal review. It has not quite been “all work and no play”; I have gone punting, jogging, cycling, on a beach trip, and experienced the famous “bumps” (the boat rolling competition for the Colleges of the University of Cambridge).

Research project: Gastroenteric viral agents: detecting and characterising group A rotavirus strains in animals and comparison to strains reported in humans pathogens.

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Dr Henry Busulwa, Education

March 2015

Although some interventions have been made through developing policy and institutions, environmental degradation occurs in many ways including poor physical planning and ecosystem management, waste management, deforestation, and building in water ways. There is a serious issues whereby people do not appreciate the natural resources in Uganda, which can also be used for teaching school children about the environment. Resources that are currently missed include the equator passing through Uganda, the protected areas like National Parks, Wetlands rivers, lakes, savannah grasslands, rift valley escarpments and mountains - as they all offer opportunities for understanding ecosystems.

Prior to coming to Cambridge, I did some field surveys and conducted interactions with biology teachers to build a concept which was discussed with my Cambridge collaborator Dr Mark Winterbottom. Mark visited Uganda in January 2015 and was able to witness the environmental practices that my project sought to address. While in Cambridge, I have been busy drafting the resource book. I visited the Open University to learn about how they produce their resource materials. The resource book is expected to be completed before end of May 2015 and an interactive CD to implement the delivery of the resource book shall be completed by 2017. The provisional title is “Discovering the wealth in understanding ecosystem interactions”.

Research project: Developing a new science education curriculum to promote sustainability, ecology and the environment.

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Dr Abu Yaya, Materials Science

February 2015

On my arrival at Cambridge I met the CAPREx coordinator to have my paperwork sorted and also some orientation about Cambridge city, including getting a bank account opened, a bike to get around Cambridge with, and visiting many different University departments. We went to Centre for African Studies where I was introduced to some of the other visiting CAPREx fellows. The next day, I met with my collaborator, Dr Kevin Knowles, at the Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy. He showed me round some of the teaching Laboratories and introduced me to his colleagues. The CAPREx programme has offered me the opportunity to enhance my career in terms of visibility by engaging with other researchers and also, sharing great deal of experience. I am confident that after my stay in Cambridge I will go back to my University in Ghana, with a whole lot of new ideas to share with students and faculty.

Research project: Fabrication of electro-porcelain composites from local raw materials in Ghana

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Dr Edgar Nabutanyi, Literature

January 2015

"When I first arrived in Cambridge the wonderful CAPREx Coordinator subtly reminded me I now had two important presentations to prepare for and make in a period of less than 5 days. It was a terrifying prospect to tell the truth, but I am grateful that I worked under this ‘pressure’ and that to some degree I was able to pull off both presentations successfully. The illuminating feedback in form of comments and questions I received on these two occasions opened up my eyes to themes of my research that I had previously thought not possible. Three new possibilities— tabloid, local language and social media coverage of homosexuality — presented themselves as interesting tangents of the study. Henceforth, my reading around the subject out the many libraries in Cambridge have proved the efficacy of my initial hypothesis that while the post-Bahati discourses on homosexuality are polarised and largely homophobic in character, they can inevitably and subversively demystify, and with time create accommodation and understanding of same-sex sexuality that seems impossible at the moment. This is what this CAPREx collaboration has illuminated for me in the three months I have been in Cambridge. Cheers to Veronique, Jenny and the entire CAPREx family".

Research project: Representations of Homosexuality in Ugandan Media and Literary texts

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Dr Rovincer Najjuma, Education

December 2014

"As an early career researcher, I arrived in Cambridge with a lot of anxiety and expectations to develop my research capacity in this world class University. While I have participated in many research enrichment seminars, research showcase and networking events during my fellowship, it was the Cambridge-Africa Day that had the most exciting multidisciplinary research presentations addressing Africa's development challenges, which really broadened my experiences of Cambridge's engagement in research in Africa with African researchers. Having been based at the Centre for Commonwealth Education in the Faculty of Education, I have been privileged to work with Dr Elaine Wilson as my Collaborator. I have been able to have direct experience and engagement with the Cambridge model of University-school partnership for teacher education through the library resources, meetings with mentors and mentor training sessions. I now embark on the interesting task of writing up these papers for publication, and better yet, inform our teacher education model in Makerere University".

Research project: University-School Partnerships and Quality Initial Teacher Education: Closing the Theory-Practice Gap