MACHAKOS UNIVERSITY SELECTED TO HOST CARNEGIE AFRICAN DIASPORA FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
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Collaborative Project will focus on Research in Material Chemistry and Graduate Student Teaching/Mentoring
Machakos University (MKsU) was selected by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP) to host an African Diaspora scholar from the United States to work with on a collaborative project that seeks to repurpose biomass and agricultural wastes, by employing synthetic chemistry tools to functionalize affordable/cheap plant-based materials to afford porous “eco-sponge” that could be tailored for the remediation of oil spillage in water. Dr. Veronica Okello (MKsU) and Dr. Harun Mbuvi, Kenyatta University (KU) will lead the Project, together with Dr. A. Jean-Luc Ayitou from University of Illinois at Chicago.
Specifically, the team will develop synthetic chemistry protocols to engineer plant-based charcoal materials, which exhibit nano/micro-porous architecture with hydrophobic domains. Furthermore, the porous materials of their interest will be characterized using microscopy and thermogravimetric tools to ascertain the expected characteristics/proprieties.
While the preliminary in-vitro tests on the first generation of the “eco-sponge” are promising, the team is currently improving the synthetic protocols by varying reagents and parameters to improve the characteristics/proprieties of these porous materials. Laboratory safety training and a “crash course” on essential organic reactions and functional group interconversion will be provided to students who will partake in the research. In addition graduate students at KU & MksU will be mentored by engaging them in various research and professional development activities.
The Machakos University project is one of 63 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.
Contact: Veronica Okello, Ph.D/AMRSC/OWSD Fellow/CADFP Host; Lecturer, Analytical & Environmental Chemistry