Two Senior Members Win Royal Society - DFID Awards
Two senior members of the Department of Chemistry, Dr. Evans Adei and Dr. Johannes Awudza, have won the first round of the Royal Society-DFID Africa Capacity Building Initiative awards. The awards, which are for five years, provide support for research consortia, consisting of three African research groups and one UK-based group. The funding cover research expenses, travel and subsistence costs, Ph.D. training and funds for equipment. Five awards of up to £1,243,000 each are given out in each round. The main aim of the initiative is to increase and strengthen the research capacity of universities and research institutes in sub-Saharan Africa by supporting the development of sustainable research networks.
Dr. Adei’s consortium, on the theme “ New materials for a sustainable energy future: linking computation with experiment” has Professor Nora de Leeuw of the University College London, Professor Wendimagegn Mammo Deneke of the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and Professor Olayinka Oyetunji of the University of Botswana. The collaborative research and training initiative will develop and employ state-of-the-art computational techniques and synthesis/characterization methods to design and optimise new catalysts and organic semi-conductors for renewable energy applications. The research will address specifically two related project areas: (i) development of novel catalysts for the conversion of biomass to fuel and/or chemical feedstock; and (ii) design of optimised conducting polymers for efficient solar energy applications.
Dr. Awudza’s consortium, which has Professor Paul O’Brien of the University of Manchester, Professor Neerish Revaprasadu of the University of Zululand in South Africa and Professor Peter T. Ndifon of the University of Yaounde 1 in Cameroon, is on the theme ‘Developing materials for applications in solar cells”.
Of the five awards for the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, two came to the Department of Chemistry here at KNUST.
Commenting on the announcement of the award winners, Dr Adei said “This is good news for us; it is good for the research team, for the department and the university. It’s not just about the money and the recognition of the modest work emanating from our lab with the initial set-up grant from TALIF. Our delight is in the use of these external funding from the Royal Society to continue building local physical and human resource capacity in molecular and materials modeling in a developing country that is integrated into the global scientific research community.”
A young lecturer in the Department, Dr. Lawrence Borquaye, described the news as “encouraging especially to early-career scientists.” “It shows that even though research is highly underfunded in our part of the world, there are still avenues for obtaining funds from elsewhere for research in the basic and applied sciences if you work hard and build a solid track-record”, he says. “The fact that two senior colleagues from this Department got two out of the five grants awarded is a source of pride for the Department. It will definitely spur us the younger ones on to work harder to achieve similar or better successes”, he added.
Dr. Godfred Darko, Head of the Department of Chemistry, was elated at the announcement, describing it as “good news indeed for the department”. He commended the hard work of Dr. Evans Adei and Dr. Johannes Awudza and expressed the hope that these awards will motivate them to continue to work even harder to raise high the image of our Department.
The Royal Society is the UK’s Academy of Sciences and is the oldest such society still in existence. The Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. A major activity of the Society is identifying and supporting the work of outstanding scientists. Sir Isaac Newton was its President between 1703 and 1727. Sir J. J. Thompson presided over it between 1915 and 1920 and Sir Ernest Rutherford between 1925 and 1930.