Researcher Mobility: Diaspora Communities Supporting Early Career Researchers

Researcher Mobility: Diaspora Communities Supporting Early Career Researchers 2016-11-01T10:25:02+00:00

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Chair: Prof Thandi Mgwebi, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Panellist: Dr Moses Osiru, Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, Uganda
Panellist: Dr Christian Acemah, African Science Academy Development Initiative, Uganda
Panellist: Mr Marcel Mballa-Ekobena, Standard Bank Group, Kenya / Cameroon
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Goal summary: This session will formulate and discuss the key challenges regarding international mobility for early career researchers and innovators. As a second step, the session asks how research focused diaspora communities can successfully address these challenges and support professional and intellectual mobility. Furthermore, the session aims to highlight some existing services and resources.

Context: In research and higher education international mobility has become a valuable career asset as well as a professional and personal challenge for early-career researchers. In an increasingly globalized research and innovation landscape, success as a researcher and educator greatly benefits from international experience and a professional international network. Moreover, researchers are encouraged to seek out optimal work and training environments beyond their national resources. A highly mobile and transnational career path is becoming the norm rather than the exception, especially for early career researchers.

While public and private research institutions recognize the value of international experience and are working toward lowering the obstacles, the pursuit of such a career is anything but clear-cut. In addition to professional obstacles such as systemic differences, varying scientific cultures, resources, and career structures, as well as administrative issues such as visa and degree recognition, language barriers, transnational job searches and application processes, there are significant personal challenges ranging from family planning and culture shock to developing personal and professional networks and mentoring relationships.

In recent years support for early-career researchers has mainly come from two sources: professional career development and support services (institutional / top-down) and the research communities themselves (bottom-up). Strong support with regard to issues concerning mobility specifically has often come from diaspora communities.

This proposed session is similar to those organised under the auspices of the Global Diaspora Forum (2013 “Diaspora Collaboration Among Early-Career Researchers”), the National Postdoc Association (2014 “Addressing the Needs of International Postdoctoral Researchers Through the Collaboration with Diaspora Communities”) and ESOF (2014 “Life after PhD I & II”, and 2016 “Going mobile: support for early career researchers’ mobility”).

Deliverables:

  1. Raise awareness of the specific challenges facing internationally mobile researchers through case studies and participant experience (see audience)
  2. Survey existing support communities and structures, with a focus on Africa and African communities abroad
  3. Nurture existing researcher diaspora communities and promote the creation of new ones.
  4. Leverage the support that researcher diaspora communities provide to promote and sustain opportunities for researcher mobility to/from and within Africa.

Audience:

  1. Postdoctoral community leaders will offer perspective on challenges to international mobility facing their members, and how they address these challenges
  2. Internationally mobile postdoctoral researchers will report on their lived experiences
  3. Career development advisors will discuss needs and existing resources for international early-career researchers
  4. Policy makers will offer a broader frame of reference and provide context that includes consideration of the global research landscape. They contribute according to their professional perspective and may gain insights to potentially influence future policy decisions.

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mgwebiProf Thandi Mgwebi
University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Chair

Thandi Mgwebi is a Research and Innovation leader with a PhD in Medical Sciences, specifically, Cell and Developmental Biology from the University of Cape Town (UCT). For the past 10 years – since 2006, she has worked within the South African NSI from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the later as Executive Director for DST-NRF Research Chairs Initiative at the National Research Foundation (NRF). During this period she was responsible for designing and implementing numerous policies, organisational and development systems and strategies involving the management and mentoring of multicultural teams, and establishing and guiding multi-sectoral partnerships and networks. Her science diplomacy skills and insightful knowledge of the SA National System of Innovation (NSI) have seen her being nominated and invited to represent the country at many international forums such as the World Science Forum; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the European Open Science Forum and others. Her insightful knowledge of the Science and Education landscape and experience in Education, has seen her being appointed by the Minister of Higher Education and Training (DHET) as a Ministerial task team member in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of a National Mathematical Sciences Programme. Thandi is an advocate of science engagement and communication, and has concluded significant international partnerships that have leveraged financial and in-kind support to the national science agenda. Thandi is a co-Chair of the 2017 World Sustainability Forum. She currently serves as Director of Research at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa.
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osiruDr Moses Osiru
Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, Uganda
Panellist

Dr. Moses Osiru is RUFORUM’s Deputy Executive Secretary. He holds a Ph.D in Agriculture (Plant Pathology) and MSc (Plant Breeding/ Pathology) from Makerere University. He has over 30 research publications, four of which are as book chapters. Dr. Osiru has over 15 years’ experience in the agricultural and higher education sectors, including close to ten years within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). As Regional Pathologist with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Moses supported small holder farmers to improve groundnut production and marketing, including through mitigating aflatoxin contamination in groundnut in Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Ghana (based in Bamako, Mali) and in Eastern and Southern Africa (based in Lilongwe, Malawi). Dr. Osiru supported farmers in East and Central Africa to combat Banana Xanthomonas Wilt and other banana diseases through research and development activities at Bioversity and its BARNESA network in East and Central Africa. During his time with the Ministry of Agriculture (PMA Secretariat, NARS Secretariat) in Uganda, Dr. Osiru participated in the review and reform of agricultural research in Uganda that led to the new agricultural research policy in 2004. Dr. Osiru led the development of ECOWAS’s Strategy and Action Plan for the Control of aflatoxins in West and Central Africa and a needs assessment for African agricultural research and training institutions to enhance collaboration with Brazil. Moses continues to teach plant pathology related courses at Makerere University. Dr. Osiru currently serves on various Boards and Steering Committees including the African Crop Science Society; the International Network for Higher Education in Africa (INHEA) , the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations (GCHERA), the Swedish Agriculture for Food Security 2030 Initiative (AgriFose) and the Acacia International School. He also sits on editorial boards of various Journals, including the Journal of Phytology [ISSN: 2075-6240]. He was a member of the Founding Steering Group of the African Forum on Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS).
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acemahChristian Acemah
Uganda National Academy of Sciences, Uganda
Presenter

Christian Acemah is Executive Secretary of the Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS), where he is the chief executive officer of the UNAS secretariat. Prior to joining UNAS in November 2015, Christian was Director for Strategy and Program Development for the African Science Academy Development Initiative of the U.S. National Academies within the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) based in Washington, DC. Between 2010 – 2016, he was also Visiting Professor of African Studies at Quest University, Canada, where he taught a range of courses on African development, politics, feminism, and the arts. Christian has served as Executive Officer, Policy and Research at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) within the GAVI Alliance Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. In that role, he was a junior advisor to the CEO of GAVI. Prior to that, he worked in the Sudan-Uganda program of the Lutheran World Federation/Department for World Service on livelihoods projects and HIV/AIDS advocacy, monitoring, and evaluation. He has also been a development economics researcher for Dr. Callisto Madavo, former Vice President of the World Bank and development anthropology researcher for Prof. Gwendolyn Mikell at Georgetown University. He received his first degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico and his graduate degree from Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
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ekobenaDr Marcel Mballa-Ekobena
Standard Bank Group, Kenya / Cameroon
Panellist

Marcel Mballa-Ekobena is a business entrepreneur and farmer, and the former Executive Head of Investment Products, East Africa at the Standard Bank Group. He has held senior and executive positions at the International Finance Corporation and JP Morgan, and is the former Vice-President: Financial Analysis at HSBC. He holds an MSc from the University of Reading, UK in International Securities Investment and Banking.
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