Two Kenyans among 20 Young Talent for sub-Saharan Africa winners

As part of the 10th edition of its regional program For Women in Science, the L’Oréal Foundation, alongside UNESCO held a ceremony honoring 20 female researchers who received the 2019 Young Talent Award for Sub-Saharan Africa. The event was held in Dakar, Senegal.

“The number of women in Science is not yet significant: only 2.4% of the world’s researchers are African scientists, of whom 30% are women. Through the Young Talent Award for Sub-Saharan Africa, we promote and support the continent’s remarkable female researchers. They play a key role to develop inclusive research in Africa, for Africa and conducted by Africans”, explains Alexandra Palt, Executive Director of the L’Oréal Foundation.

(TOP: The 20 women researchers awarded the Young Talent sub-Saharan Africa 2019 Awards by L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science program). 

The winners, coming from 15 countries, comprised of computer scientists, engineers or biologists, proof of the diversity and crucial role of women’s scientific research in Africa.

Created in 1998, the For Women in Science program, supported by the L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO, aims to promote women in the field of scientific research, where the glass ceiling remains a reality. Over the past 21 years, more than 3,400 women researchers from 118 countries have been highlighted.

Through the regional Young Talents Sub-Saharan Africa program, the L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO have so far supported 129 doctoral and post-doctoral students, who are contributing through their work to building the continent’s future. This year, the sub-Saharan Africa program is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

In 2019, in addition to the 7 women scientists awarded in South Africa, 15 doctoral and 5 post-doctoral candidates from 15 sub-Saharan African countries, including 2 from Senegal, have been honored, being selected for their scientific excellence out of nearly 400 applications.

The Young Talents received financial support for their scientific work, with allocations of €10,000 for doctoral students and €15,000 for post-doctoral students. These 20 researchers and the 7 scientists of the South African national program have also benefited from a training program designed to give them more resources to pursue their careers. The four-day training session, conducted by experts selected by the L’Oréal Foundation, covered different dimensions: leadership, management, negotiation, public speaking, media training and personal branding.

Among the winners are two Kenyans – Becky Nancy Aloo and Ruth Kihika.

Below are the Young Talent sub-Saharan Africa 2019 awardees:

1 – Regina Esinam ABOTSI – Doctoral candidate – Ghana – University of Cape Town, South Africa

Discipline: Health Sciences

Research project: Determining antibiotic resistance in potentially pathogenic bacteria present in the respiratory tract of HIV-infected children.

2 – Becky Nancy ALOO – Doctoral candidate – Kenya – Laboratory, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Arusha City, Tanzania

Discipline: Biological Sciences

Research project: Identifying novel species of Irish potato to enhance yields.

3 – Fatoumata BA – Doctoral candidate – Senegal – Gaston Berger University of Saint-Louis   

Discipline: Fundamental medicine

Research project: Studying sleep to better fight metabolic diseases.

4 – Mercy Temitope BANKOLE – Post-Doctoral candidate – Nigeria – Federal University of Technology, Minna Niger State

Discipline: Chemistry

Research project: Healing open wounds faster and better thanks to a nanocomposite.

5 – Najah Fatou COLY – Doctoral candidate – Senegal – Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar

Discipline: Biological sciences

Research project: Better understanding infections during delivery to fight neonatal mortality

6 – Funmilola FAGBOLA – Doctoral candidate – Nigeria – Ladoke Akintola University of Technology  

Discipline: Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering

Research project: Detecting misinformation with proof and deep learning models, and nature-inspired algorithms

7 – Nowsheen GOONOO – Post-Doctoral candidate – Mauritius – Mauritius University, Moka

Discipline: Materials sciences

Research project: Avoiding amputations by enhancing healing in diabetic wounds

8 – Fatou JOOF – Doctoral candidate – Gambia – Banjul Open University  

Discipline: Biological Sciences

Research project: Developing new antimalarial strategies by tracking genetic mutations

9 – Ruth KIHIKA – Doctoral candidate – Kenya – Nairobi Kenyatta University

Discipline: Chemistry

Research project: Identifying gene targets that correlate with biochemical pathways responsible for plant resistance to parasites

10 – Stéphanie Maubath Carène KONAN – Doctoral candidate – Côte d’Ivoire – Félix Houphouët Boigny University, Abidjan

Discipline: Informatics and Information Science

Research project: Geomatics at the service of the fight against malnutrition

11 – Carine KUNSEVI-KILOLA – Doctoral candidate – Democratic Republic of Congo – Stellenbosch University, South Africa 

Discipline: Health Sciences

Research project: Combating tuberculosis contamination in diabetics

12 – Jacqueline KYOSIIMIRE-LUGEMWA – Post-Doctoral candidate – MRC/UVRI & London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Unité de recherche ougandaise, Uganda  

Discipline: Health Sciences

Research project: Generating comprehensive data on the pre-existing immune status and its effect on vaccine response.

13 – Henintsoa Onivola MINOARIVELO – Post-Doctoral candidate – Madagascar – Université de Stellenbosch, Afrique du Sud

Discipline: Mathematics

Research project: Using mathematical modelling and computational simulations to predict the fate of insect pollinators.

14 – Celia Moffat Joel MATYANGA – Doctoral candidate – Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe University, Harare 

Discipline: Fundamental Medicine

Research project: Using the interactions between a herbal traditional medicine and first line treatment of hiv/aids

15 – Mweete NGLAZI – Doctoral candidate – Zambia – Cap University, South Africa

Discipline: Health Sciences

Research project: An analysis of overweight and obesity in South Africa: the case of women of childbearing age

16 – Ines NGOH – Doctoral candidate – Cameroon – Buea University et London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Gambian Research Unit, Gambia

Discipline: Biological sciences

Research project: Understanding genetic variations, used by natural populations of malaria parasites

17 – Georgina NYAWO – Doctoral candidate – Zimbabwe – Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Discipline: Health sciences

Research project: – Assessing the microbiome in patients with tuberculosis to develop novel diagnostic interventions and therapeutic

18 – Cécile Harmonie OTOIDOBIGA – Post-Doctoral researcher – Burkina Faso – Ouagadougou Joseph Ki-Zerbo University

Discipline: Biological Sciences

Research project: Improving productivity of lowland rice in West Africa

19 – Francine TANKEU – Doctoral candidate – Cameroon – Yaoundé 1 University

Discipline: Biological Sciences

Research project: Treating leukemia by allying biochemistry to the power of plants

20 – Jesugnon Fifamè Murielle Féty TONOUEWA – Doctoral candidate – Benin – Parakou University

Discipline: Environmental Engineering

Research project: Improving the Acacia wood supply chain in Benin


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