IITA scientist among AAS and the Royal Society recipients of 2020 FLAIR fellowships
The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the Royal Society of London, supported by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), have announced the second cohort of the Future Leaders – African Independent Research (FLAIR) fellowships. Thirty outstanding early-career African scientists, whose research focuses on the needs of the continent, will receive support from the FLAIR program to develop independent research careers in African institutions and, ultimately, lead their research groups.
The 2020 cohort of FLAIR-funded scientists were selected from a diverse and competitive pool of more than 400 applicants. The chosen scientists represent 10 African nationalities. Their research projects will focus on a wide range of topics, including new techniques for sustainable agriculture and managing water shortages to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Fellowship recipients include Kenyan national and incoming IITA scientist Samwel Muiruri, who will be returning to the Institute, having worked with Leena Tripathi for his PhD. Muiruri notes that pests and challenges of a changing climate are increasingly outstripping cassava adaptations through conventional breeding techniques. For his fellowship project, his research will focus on speeding up the breeding and cultivation process of cassava through genetic manipulation to induce premature flowering, thereby fast-forwarding the adaptive capacity of the crop.
A statement announcing the fellowship awards notes that “Africa needs to pay urgent attention to growing and retaining scientific talent to keep improving the continent’s scientific input and its sustainable development. The FLAIR partnership with the Royal Society is one of several initiatives through which the AAS is addressing this need.”
The Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences, Professor Nelson Torto, highlighted the importance of postdoctoral programs. “Postdoctoral programs are vital in training and developing early career researchers into research leaders whose scientific leadership will influence policies that will promote the socioeconomic development of the continent,” he said.
FLAIR Fellowships provide opportunities for talented, African, early-career researchers to realize their potential of becoming leaders in their fields. Along with the financial support, these fellowships provide access to a network that will support the recipients to build independent research careers in sub-Saharan African institutions and to undertake cutting-edge scientific research that will address global challenges facing developing countries.
The next round of FLAIR applications is currently open and will close on 27 May 2020. Find more details about eligibility and how to apply here.