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OWSD PICKS DR. VERONICA OKELLO, MACHAKOS UNIVERSITY LECTURER, FOR THE 2020 OWSD PROGRAMME

Dr Veronica Achieng Okello is among the 23 women selected globally for the 2020 OWSD Early Career Fellows Programme. Dr Veronica is a Lecturer, Department of Physical Sciences, Machakos University.

Organization For Women In Science For The Developing World (OWSD)  is the first international organization for women scientists from the developing world with the objective of strengthening their role in the development process and promoting their representation in scientific and technological leadership.

OWSD provides career development and networking opportunities for young women scientists throughout the South. OWSD has over 5,000 members and is committed to increasing the number and quality of women scientists in those countries and regions that need the most support. To become a full member, applicants need an MSc or PhD in scientific fields. Networking opportunities include regional workshops and activities; national chapters and international conferences. For committed young women scientists, OWSD has an all-expenses-paid PhD fellowship programme as well as an annual awards programme (sponsored by The Elsevier Foundation and in partnership with TWAS to honor and celebrate women scientists’ early career success. (TWAS is a global science academy based in Trieste, Italy, working to advance science and engineering for sustainable prosperity in the developing world).

Dr. Okello’s research focuses on developing new analytical methods and nanoscale/nano-enabled materials for environmental remediation and monitoring of water, soil and air pollutants. The presence of Perchlorates (PCs) and fluorides (F-) in groundwater and surface water is a worldwide concern as high concentrations of these can cause health problems such as softening of bones, thyroid disruption, and cancer. Currently, 41% of Kenyans rely on groundwater sources while 59% use unimproved sanitation. Industrial discharge of PCs & F- in wastewater exacerbates the problem and increases loss of drinking water.

Dr. Okello’s project seeks to develop an easy-to-use, widely available water filter that can screen F- and PCs and will be linked to end-users through existing market systems for wastewater treatment; given its nanosized pores, the filter should also remove other microorganisms such as bacteria.

Dr. Okello’s findings will also be able to inform policy decisions aimed at reduced contamination. With the support from the Early Career fellowship, she will be able to buy equipment including an electrochemical analyser and Ion-Selective Electrode, as well as to establish an electrochemical lab for teaching and research and to support three postgraduate students.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof.Lucy Irungu and Machakos University fraternity congratulates Dr. Okello for this deserved selection and wishes her the best as she embarks on the programme.

Adana Taksi
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