AIMS announces female climate change science fellows

A programme under the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI), aimed specifically at increased female participation to contribute to a more sustainable societal response to climate change, has announced its first climate change science fellows.

Dr Nana Klutse from Ghana, Dr Jessica Nosizwe Paula Thorn, a South African national living in the United States, and Dr N'Datchoh Evelyne Touré from Ivory Coast will each receive between US$25,000 and US$31,000 over one year for the fellowship.

AIMS-NEI launched the Fellowship Program for Women in Climate Change Science in 2017. The fellowship addresses barriers for women scientists such as pregnancy, childbirth and establishing a family head-on: the funding includes allocations for up to three dependents.

Sixteen to 20 fellowships will be awarded from 2017 to 2022 to outstanding female scientists from all over the world who are applying substantive mathematical science concepts to address pressing climate change issues relevant to Africa.

The programme was made possible by a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and support from Canadian government, as part of a broader effort by AIMS-NEI to build the intellectual capital needed to solve the numerous challenges to Africa’s development resulting from climate change.

Thierry Zomahoun, president and CEO of AIMS-NEI said in a statement the programme puts female researchers in the driver's seat to contribute to a more sustainable societal response to climate change.

“We are proud of a very strong first cohort," he said.

Zomahoun said climate change represents one of humanity's greatest challenges of the 21st century, and the challenges are greater for African countries that are experiencing an increased population growth with downstream consequences on land redistribution.

He said, unlike other continents, Africa is in a unique position to grow its economy and industries using climate-smart strategies that apply research-based evidence that limit future extreme climates and adapt to current climatic conditions.

To achieve this, Zomahoun said, contributions by both men and women are critical.

IDRC has been involved with AIMS-NEI since 2010 when Canada became the first donor to help AIMS to expand across Africa. Today there are five centres in Africa.

The fellows were selected from among 14 competitive applicants following a two-step evaluation process by international subject experts, including an international selection committee.

To strengthen the capacity of African institutions, the fellows are required to conduct their research at a host institution in Africa, different from their home institution.

Nosizwe Paula Rose Thorn, a postdoctoral researcher at the Colorado State University, will be hosted by the African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Klutse, a senior research scientist from the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute, will be hosted in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town.

Touré, a research associate from the Félix Houphouët-Boigny University in Côte d'Ivoire, will be hosted by the Competence Centre WASCAL, Burkina Faso.

Dr Jean Lebel, president of the IDRC, said the fellows’ research projects are expected to add significantly to the understanding of climate change and its impacts and to the development and implementation of innovative policies and strategies for mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

“We look forward to great research results from these outstanding mathematical scientists," said Lebel.