icipe honours in 2015

In 2015, icipe staff members and students received many prestigious external and internal awards and recognitions. A complete list of the awards and awardees is as follows:

Institutional award and recognition:

Science Fair Certificate of Participation awarded to icipe: The certificate was awarded in recognition of the Centre’s participation in the Science Fair during the Meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions held in Geneva, Switzerland, 4 to 15 May 2015.

Certificate of Recognition awarded to icipe:  On 16th September 2015, icipe was awarded a Certificate of Recognition for its contribution towards the implementation of the Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC) on the occasion of PATTEC’s 15th Anniversary.  

icipe Stockholm Convention Regional Centre has formally been endorsed to continue operations for a further 4 years (2016 to 2019) by the more than 160 countries that are members of Stockholm Convention, following evaluation of the performance of the regional centers.

Students and post- docs:

Matilda Gikonyo (MSc 2015) was awarded a PhD scholarship with an International Max Planck Research School, Germany. Only 12 scholarships were awarded from approx 800 applications worldwide.

Micky Mwamuye, an MSc scholar, was awarded the “Emerging Research Talent Award” during the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit ‘MARS 2015’ in Geneva (19-20 October).

Edith Chepkorir, a PhD student within the Human Health Theme, is one of the recipients of the 2015 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Fellowships, whose objective is to bring support to young women pursuing scientific careers.  Edith will receive 5,000 Euros, which will go towards her doctoral research titled: Field and Laboratory studies of Aedes (Stegomyia) species to assess Yellow fever and Dengue risk in Northern Kenya

The icipe Governing Council publication and poster awards for 2015 were presented as follows:

  • Xavier Cheseto, a PhD student in the Behavioral and Chemical Ecology Unit, won the first Prize for his paper titled: potential of the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria (Orthoptera:Acrididae) as an unconventional source of dietary and therapeutic sterols, which was published in PloS ONE journal.
  • Edith Chepkorir received the second prize, for her paper titled: Vector competence of Aedes aegypti populations from Kilifi and Nairobi for dengue 2 virus and the influence of temperature, which was published in Parasites & Vectors journal.
  • Purity N. Kipanga, was awarded the third prize  for her paper titled: High-resolution melting analysis reveals low Plasmodium parasitaemia infections among microscopically negative febrile patients in western Kenya, which was published in Malaria Journal.
  • Beatrice T. Nganso won the first prize for a poster titled “Aspects of the mechanisms of tolerance in Apis mellifera scutellata colonies to Varroa destructormite in Kenya”
  • Nelly Ndungu received the second prize for a poster titled:  “Hypotrigona bees (Hymenoptera: Meliponini): Morphology, behaviour, chemistry and genomics”

Prisca Oria, a student working in the SolarMal project, won a poster award at the Third Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Cape Town, South Africa.  Her poster was entitled ‘Weaving together the technical, social and ecological perspectives in an innovative malaria control project’.

Fiona Nelima Mumoki, a Research Assistant in the Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics Unit (MBBU), was named an AWARD Postgraduate Fellow for 2015, which is a prestigious fellowship for young African Women in Agricultural Research and Development awarded by the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD). She commenced her PhD studies at the University of Pretoria, South Africa in March 2015.

Dr Lucy K. Murungi, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Chemical Ecology Unit received a book award from African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), for the best laboratory progress (February 2013-March 2015).

She also received a grant from RUFORUM for research on soil-borne pathogens in smallholder greenhouse tomato production.

Dr Benard Kulohoma, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the EID Lab, was selected as the “2015 H3Africa-Harvard Fellow”, which recognised him as an exceptional researcher and trainer. H3ABioNet funds this fellowship, and the H3ABioNet Harvard node supports it.  The appointment as a Visiting Researcher is for the period 25 January 2016 to 25 May 2016. He will be based at Harvard Faculty of Public Health (Harvard H3ABioNet Node).  He is also the winner of the 2015 award for “Young Researcher” conferred during the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit ‘MARS 2015’ in Geneva (19-20 October).  This award comes with a 6-months fellowship to gain professional experience in one of the Merck R&D hubs around the world.

Dr David Tchouassi, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Chemical Ecology Unit, has been selected as a TWAS Young Affiliate. The prestigious affiliateship is for a period of five years, and was awarded by the World Academy of Sciences Regional Office for Sub-Saharan Africa (TWAS-ROSSA).    Dr Tchouassi will be invited to participate in TWAS general meetings and conferences. 

Dr Tchouassi received a Book Award entitled  “One Health: The Human-Animal-Environment Interfaces in Infectious Diseases” edited by John S Mackenzie, Martyn Jeggo, Peter Daszak, and Juergen A. Richt, as a Runner Up Winner for his poster at the 3rd International One Health Congress, on 15-18 March 2015, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. His winning poster was entitled: “Association of genetics of two key mosquito vectors of Rift Valley fever and changing outbreak patterns of the disease in Kenya”.

Further, Dr Tchouassi has been nominated for election as an affiliate member of The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) (review is still underway).

Senior/Principal Scientists:

Dr Daniel Masiga (Head of the Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics Unit – MBBU), has been invited to participate in the Wellcome Trust Public Health and Tropical Medicine Interview Committee (PHATIC).

Dr Charles Midega, a Senior Scientist in the Push-Pull Programme, Plant Health Theme, is the Cornell University, Ithaca, Distinguished Africanist Scholar.  In September 2015, Dr Midega, in his capacity as “Distinguished Africanist Scholar’ (awarded in September 2014), delivered various classroom and public lectures meant to stimulate discussion on agricultural research and development in Africa, challenges, opportunities and future policy directions.

Prof. Zeyaur Khan, Principal scientist, Push-Pull Programme, Plant Health Theme), was awarded the Royal Entomological Society, UK, Honorary Fellowship in June 2015, which is awarded to those who have given “eminent and distinguished service to Entomological Science and /or the Society”.

In addition, Prof. Khan’s presentation entitled “Exploiting plant behavior and chemical ecology for developing new crop protection strategies for Africa” was selected as one of the 20 Premier Presentations to be made at the Entomological Society of America’s 2015 meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota from 15–18 November 2015.

In April 2015, Prof. Khan was appointed an Adjunct Professor of Entomology at Cornell-Ithaca, with Dr Katja Poveda and Dr Andre Kessler as hosts.

Prof. Khan received the Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Outstanding Career in Agriculture in March 2015.

Dr Paul-Andre Calatayud, Visiting scientist to 15th August 2015, Plant Health Theme, won the Prix Réaumur from the French Entomological Society, for his book Interactions insects-plantes  (Insect-Plant Interactions), edited by MM. Nicolas Sauvion, Paul-André Calatayud, Denis Thiéry and Frédéric Marion-Poll. Established in 1960, this prize is awarded to a book about biology written in French, with biology taken in its broadest sense. The award was presented at an official ceremony at the National Museum in Paris in March 2015.

Dr Baldwyn Torto, Head, Behavioural and Chemical Ecology Unit, was selected as a plenary speaker at the 2016 XXV International Congress of Entomology. 

Dr Torto has also been selected to serve as a member of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) Commission on Sciences Education, one of four commissions that the AAS has established to build capacity and set the agenda for science in Africa.  The others focus on women in science, Africa’s science heritage, and Pan-African Science Olympiads.

The AAS has also selected him to serve on the jury for the award of the Africa Union (AU) Prizes.

Dr. Sunday Ekesi, Head, Plant Health Theme, was elected as Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences.

Dr Segenet Kelemu, Director General, icipe, is invited to serve on the National Science and Technology Council of the Republic of Rwanda.

At the 26th General Meeting of TWAS held in Vienna, Austria, 19 November 2015, the Members attending the meeting have elected Dr. Segenet Kelemu as a Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) for her role in the advancement of science in developing countries. Ceremony to be held at the 27th TWAS General Meeting in 2016.

Tel Aviv University has decided to give Dr. Segenet Kelemu an honorary doctorate in recognition of her pioneering role for women scientists in Africa; her leadership in the fight for providing new solutions for ecologically responsible food crop production, especially by local, small-scale farmers in Africa; her commitment in directing the major effort, through international collaboration; for the transformation of African agriculture into self-sustainment that will meet the goals of feeding the people; her international acclaim as recipient of prestigious awards such as the UNESCO Award for Women in Science in 2014, and her serving on advisory boards of key international institutions such as Gates Foundation, Canadian International Food Security Research Fund; and her support in the establishment of the Manna Center Program in Food Safety and Security of Tel Aviv University. By her acceptance of the honorary doctorate of Tel Aviv University she would be joining a distinguished list of honorees that includes Bill Clinton, Angela Merkel, Tony Blair, Shimon Peres, Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz, Amos Oz, Umberto Eco, Zubin Mehta, Ronnie Chan and Maurice Levy, among the many remarkable individuals who have received this honorary degree in the last 50 years. Ceremony in May 2016.

The DG was celebrated in a commemorative calendar celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD).  The calendar recognises some of the senior members of OWSD from eastern and southern Africa who have made an immense contribution to gender, science and technology.

Dr. Kelemu is also being featured in an upcoming book on science and technology for Africa’s development in a chapter devoted to highlighting the research, teaching, and leadership accomplishments of selected individuals who have contributed much to Africa.

Dr. Kelemu was invited to serve on international science award juries such as the L’Oreal-UNESCO Sub-Saharan women in science award held in South Africa; the Malassis and Olam Prizes held in France.

She was invited to speak on high profile science, food security and related gatherings, or to contribute to publications on important issues, at the Advancing Pest and Disease Modelling conference held at the University of Florida, Gainesville, USA; Valagro Global Conference held in Italy; UNESCO’s Science for Africa’s Economic, Social and Technological Insurgence consultation held in Zimbabwe; the 2nd International Global Food Security Conference 2015 held at Cornell University, Ithaca, USA as International Scientific Committee member; and to contribute to a UNESCO special issue on “Women and Biotechnology; Outlooks in Pesticide Management”, among others.

In addition, the Dr. Kelemu was invited to Expo Milano 2015 Women’s forum to speak at the plenary session on women and food security. She was the only participant from Africa invited as a member of a high level panel on Science Week in Italy that TWAS and the Italian Government organised, where she presented and participated in a roundtable discussion at the Trieste Next 2015 Science week. The topic for the roundtable discussion was “Ask Africa—Can Agribiotech Make the Difference?” An Italian journalist with international experience moderated the session, which involved two other speakers, Prof. Michele Morgante (University of Udine), and Prof. Alessandaro Vitale (National Research Council of Italy). The DG made a presentation on icipe titled “Out of Africa: Bioscience Innovations in Agriculture and Health” prior to the roundtable discussion.  The event was given wide exposure in over thirty-one (31) print and electronic media platforms during the month of September. (See print coverage included as Annex 7ii). Considering that most of icipe’s current funding comes from Europe, this positive media coverage and fascination with icipe is valuable for the Centre. The strong partnership with TWAS is also critical on many fronts.

The DG (and icipe) was invited to be featured in an international science TV series called The Mind of the Universe, see http://themindoftheuniverse.nl/. The Mind is an ideological cross media project. It will be the first open source TV series ever, providing the whole series for free to all countries in the world in order to ’spread knowledge’. UNESCO is ambassador of The Mind of the Universe. Open University UK will create an international online learning experience to make all information available for everyone. Filming completed in November, 2015.