University dons dominate new list of AAS fellows

Scholars and researchers based in African and foreign universities have dominated the latest list of 32 senior scientists named as 2017 fellows of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS).

Out of the list of 32 scientists, 17 of them are university-based scholars, some working in higher learning institutions in North America and Europe.

The dons are drawn from universities in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, United States, Britain, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and Senegal.

Out of the 17, only three are women and include Nancy Phaswana-Mafuya, deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation at North West University, South Africa; Aissa Wade, mathematics professor at Pennsylvania State University and president of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Senegal; and Mary Abukutsa-Onyango, deputy vice-chancellor at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya.

Overall, only eight women made to the list of 32, among them UK national Alison Elliott who is based at the Uganda Virus Research Institute hosted by Makerere University.

Prominent scholars elected to the 2017 list include Ethiopian professors Yacob Mulugetta of University College London, and Shiferaw Berhanu of Temple University, United States.

“To date, the AAS has recognised 396 AAS fellows and associate and honorary fellows who are proven science, technology and innovation leaders, policy advisors and thinkers, most of whom work or have worked on issues affecting the continent,” said the AAS in a statement introducing the fellows.

According to the AAS, its fellows may live in Africa or in the diaspora and are elected by AAS fellows based on achievements that include their publication record, innovations, leadership roles and contribution to policy.

The academy has three categories of fellows including the ordinary fellows, associate fellows and honorary fellows.

Ordinary fellows are Africans who may live in or outside the continent, while associate fellows are non-Africans who have contributed to the development of science on the continent.

Honorary fellows on the other hand are eminent members of society who have helped the AAS achieve its goals, and some of the prominent fellows in the category include Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria, and Denis Sassou Nguesso, the president of the Republic of Congo.