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MksU SELECTED TO HOST CARNEGIE AFRICAN DIASPORA FELLOWS

The Project will focus on Collaborative Research in Analytical/Environmental Chemistry and Strengthening of the Existing Master of Science Chemistry Curriculum and Undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Analytical Chemistry Programs.

Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program to Support Projects at Universities across Africa, Nairobi, July, 2020 – Machakos University (Mksu) was selected by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP) to host two African Diaspora scholars from the United States to work on a collaborative project on synthesis of molecular building blocks for environmental remediation and improvement/strengthening of existing analytical chemistry programs. The project request proposal was submitted by Dr. Veronica Okello. Therefore, Dr. Veronica Okello, MksU, will lead the project, together with Dr. A. Jean-Luc Ayitou, Illinois Institute of Technology, USA and Dr. Kefa Onchoke, Stephen F. Austin State University, USA.

The research component of the project will focus on the development of polymeric materials for the removal and detection (via electrochemical and spectroscopic techniques) of perchlorates and fluorides in water. Perchlorates can cause thyroid disruption among other effects, while ingestion of excess fluorides can cause fluorosis. Moreover, the U.S. EPA has classified perchlorates as a potential carcinogen and thus recommends that all surface water must be filtered and disinfected before consumption unless the purveyor significantly justifies avoidance of filtration.

The Machakos County water policy of June 2014 aims at providing water for all, boosting and creation of an enabling environment with suitable irrigation water structures. The CADFP fellowship will thus help Machakos University through established MOU work towards the realization of this goal through relevant research and outreach programs. The broader impact of the proposed project will be achieved with the following outcomes: A developed Master of Science in Analytical Chemistry program with supplemental core courses will be in place – This will provide our students with new skill sets for their post-graduate endeavors; Students and MksU lecturers will gain a lot of insights from scholars of international repute. Our expectation is that students who will partake in this project will be more prepared to secure programs related internship positions in industries and other relevant government institutions. We also hope that the project will help in establishing multilateral partnerships with industries and our fellows’ respective home institutions and other universities across the world. We hope to initiate exchange programs for both staff and students of MksU and the fellows’ home institution(s). At the fundamental and practical levels, the proposed polymeric materials could be tailored for water treatment applications and in-vitro or in-operando data collected on perchlorates and fluorides will help us propose environmental policies to the Machakos County officials. The fellows will also benefit in terms of the knowledge gained from working in MksU that they will take back to their institution and also the long-term benefits to the community around as a result of outreach activities.

The Machakos University project is one of 74 projects that will pair African Diaspora scholars with higher education institutions and collaborators in Africa to work together on curriculum co-development, collaborative research, graduate training, and mentoring activities in the coming months.

The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program, now in its fourth year, is designed to reverse Africa’s brain drain, strengthen capacity at the host institutions, and develop long-term, mutually-beneficial collaborations between universities in Africa and the United States and Canada. It is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in collaboration with United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) in Nairobi, Kenya, which coordinates the activities of the Advisory Council. A total of 471 African Diaspora Fellowships have now been awarded for scholars to travel to Africa since the program’s inception in 2013.

Fellowships match host universities with African-born scholars and cover the expenses for project visits of between 14 and 90 days, including transportation, a daily stipend, and the cost of obtaining visas and health insurance.

See the full list of newly selected projects, hosts and scholars.

Please direct all questions related to the application process to AfricanDiaspora@iie.org.

Contact:

Veronica Okello, Ph.D/OWSD Fellow/CADFP Host

Lecturer, Analytical & Environmental Chemistry; Director, Directorate of Quality Assurance,

Machakos University, P.O Box 136-90100, Machakos, Kenya.

email: vokello@mksu.ac.ke / veronicaokello@gmail.com

Institute of International Education (IIE), AfricanDiaspora@iie.org

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