Science Communication for Policy Engagement

Moderator:
Dr Tshiamo Motshegwa
Panellists:
Dr Alexander Kipronoh
Dr Vanessa McBride
Mr Emmanuel Ocran
Mr James Azam
Mr John Wade-Smith
Mr Samson Mutunga
Ms Miriam Nyamai

Dr Alexander Kipronoh

Alexander K. Kipronoh (BVM, MSc, PhD; University of Nairobi) is a veterinarian with postgraduate training in Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics (VEE), working as a research scientist at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) – Veterinary Research Institute (VRI). His current research focuses on improvement of animal health and productivity for food security and human health by controlling occurrence and transmission of infectious diseases in livestock including diseases that are transmissible between animals and humans.  He is involved in research projects aimed at developing technologies for efficient disease diagnostics, epidemiological surveillance and effective vaccines for control of diseases of economic importance in food animals. He is also involved in projects that ensure safe animal products for human consumption and development of guidelines and policy advises for production of animal source foods that are free from biological, drugs, chemicals, heavy metals and aflatoxin residues. He works closely with national and international stakeholders in the livestock industry to develop strategies for improvement of animal welfare for sustainable livestock farming and enhanced livelihoods for the livestock keepers who work within the industry. Dr.Kipronoh is a 2018 DARA Policy Fellow and is interested in policy work that affects the development of sustainable agriculture.

Dr Tshiamo Motshegwa

Dr Tshiamo Motshegwa (BEng, PhD University of London) is based at the Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science at the University of Botswana. He leads the High Performance Computing and Data Science Research cluster, and has been Chair of the SADC Technical Experts Working Group developing the SADC Regional Cyber-infrastructure Framework. He serves on the Botswana Government’s Ministry of Tertiary Education, Science and Technology task team for the Botswana Space Science strategy overarching developments and opportunities in space sciences and technologies. He is also a member of the Botswana SKA & African Very Long Base Interferometer Network (AVN) Projects technical Committee, and the Botswana Open Data Open Science (ODOS) committee. Dr Motshegwa participates in the SADC Intellectual Property Rights initiative, and has engaged in Southern African Innovation Support Programme (SAIS) projects around innovation ecosystems and Technology Transfer.

Dr Vanessa McBride

Dr Vanessa McBride is an astronomer at the Office of Astronomy for Development. She has a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Southampton and her research centres around populations of evolved, massive stars in binaries. Her experience comprises teaching at an undergraduate level and supervising postgraduate research. Dr McBride works towards bridging the gap between the community of professional astronomers and the development world with a view to helping astronomers apply their skills to problems related to socioeconomic development, with particular reference to achieving the UN Global Goals.

Mr Emmanuel Ocran

Emmanuel Ocran (BSc. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, BSc. Hons. University of Cape Town, MSc. University of Western Cape) is a PhD student at the University of Cape Town.  His research work is focused on the multi- wavelength properties of faint radio sources using data from the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India.  These data provide images of the radio flux density over small regions of the sky with the same sensitivities that will be achieved by the South African MeerKAT telescope and phase one of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope over much larger areas. Emmanuel is a 2018 DARA Policy Fellow and is interested in higher education policy relevant to the training of young African scientists.

Mr James Azam

James Azam is originally from Ghana and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Science, and two Master’s degrees in Mathematical Science. He is a 2018 DARA Policy Fellow and is currently a PhD candidate in Mathematics at the University of Stellenbosch. His research is on investigating the role of vaccine supply chains in the context of a measles outbreak in locations where resources are scare and tough decisions have to be made about who and what to prioritize. He has a passion for data science and science communication and was a heat finalist at FameLab 2017, a science communication competition for postgraduates and early career scientists held at the CSIR Convention Centre in Pretoria in December 2017.

Mr John Wade-Smith

Born in Saigon, Vietnam, John then spent his school years being educated in the UK, but living in the US, Mexico and Mauritius.  From 1984-1988 he went to the University of St Andrews where he gained a Masters in Geography before following in his father’s footsteps by joining the Foreign and Commonwealth, which allowed him to feed his passion for travel and international  relations.

During his 30 year career as a diplomat, John has served in a number of countries in a variety of roles, but with Africa becoming a central career theme.  In the mid-90s he was involved in development work in Kenya, before becoming British Deputy High Commissioner to Botswana in 2000.  After a stint leading a team in London providing policy advice on southern Africa, John returned to the continent to set up a climate change team in Pretoria which he ran from 2008 until just after COP 17 in Durban.  He then spent 3 years in Washington DC as the Consular regional Director for North America and the Caribbean before being fortunate enough to return to South Africa as the regional head for science and innovation.  John is married to Emma Wade-Smith who is her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa.

Mr Samson Mutunga

Samson M. Mutunga (BSc. Astronomy & Astrophysics; MSc. Physics) is a PhD student at the University of Nairobi. His current research focuses on developingnew workflows to automate satellite based salinity monitoring and alert systems. The outputs from his research will help provide evidence for potential correlations between secondary salinization and crop production, as well as automating a satellite monitoring and alert system for potential salinization hazards in Kenya. It will help farmers and regional authorities in managing irrigated agricultural areas and hence minimizing the impacts of salinization in crop productivity. Mr. Mutunga is a 2018 DARA Policy Fellow and is interested in policy work that affects the development of sustainable agriculture.

Ms Miriam Nyamai

Miriam M. Nyamai (B.ed, Kenyatta University; BSc, University of Cape Town; MSc, University of Free State) is a PhD student at the University of Cape Town. Her research involves the use of radio telescope observations to study out flows from white dwarf stars that explode after an extensive accretion of material from a close companion star. The data generated by these new radio telescopes are huge and learning to handle them is an important skill that she intends to translate into other data intensive research areas such as agriculture. Miriam Nyamai is a 2018 DARA Policy Fellow and is interested in policy areas that impact e-infrastructure and data driven decision-making.

In this session we will explore the relationship between scientific research and policy, from the perspective of both early career researchers and experienced policy makers. We will discuss the mechanisms of science communication for policy engagement and discuss how these differ from those used for public engagement. We will also explore possibilities for cultivating expertise within the scientific community in order to develop the relationships and skills necessary to communicate the outcomes of research programs effectively to policy-makers, in order to facilitate and inform effective evidence-based policy-making.

Developing these skills is of particular importance as we enter the fourth industrial revolution, as big data presents both an opportunity and a challenge to policy makers. Effective communication with scientists working in data intensive research areas can provide an improved quality of evidence, insight and analysis for policy-makers – but it also brings the challenge of rapid and adaptive policy-making in return.

Panellists in this session include the 2018 DARA Big Data Science Policy Fellows, early career researchers selected from across Southern Africa working in the data intensive scientific research themes of Radio Astronomy, Sustainable Agriculture, and Healthcare. The fellows receive training in communicating scientific research to policy makers and will reflect on their own experiences during the session.

2018-11-13T08:40:58+00:00