Introducing the African Researchers Network
A bridge between ASPB and the African plant science community
The African Researchers Network (ARN) was established in the aftermath of the Plant Biology 2020 World Summit by a group of African Scholars who yearned to promote the representation of African plant biologists within the international plant science community. As most of the challenges we, as plant scientists, aim to address in our research - such as climate change, food security and preservation of biological diversity - directly affect people and livelihoods in African countries, we believe it is essential to empower African scholars who are tackling these issues and foster collaborations with plant scientists across the world. Moreover, establishing a networking, mentoring and professional development platform to support and strengthen capacity building of scientists from and working in Developing Countries is key to meet ASPB's goals of "bringing the international plant science community together" and "promoting interests, growth and education of plant scientists in general". As members of the ASPB ARN, we seek to highlight and promote research done by African plant scientists, to provide networking, mentoring and career advancement opportunities and foster membership of African plant scientists to ASPB.
Do you share our vision of a plant science community that promotes synergy and co-creation of knowledge with African scholars and their collaborators? Join our network on Plantae and follow us on Twitter.
Meet some of the ARN Scholars:
- Sessen Daniel Iohannes is an Eritrean-Italian master's student at Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (Pisa, Italy), where she is majoring in Agricultural Sciences and Molecular Biotechnology. Her field of research is crop genomics and she is mainly interested in implementing genomics tools to uncover the genetic diversity and the genomic features of neglected or underutilized crop species (NUS), such as Eragrostis tef. As to why she joined the network, she says "I believe it is essential to increase the representation of research carried out by African plant scientists and foster partnerships between African research institutions and ASPB". Follow her on Twitter: @DanielSessen
- Modesta Nnedinso Abugu is a Nigerian master's student at the Horticultural Science Department at University of Florida. Her field of research is plant breeding and molecular biology and she is currently working on the introgression of some superior flavor genes into modern tomato cultivars. Modesta says "African scholars are resourceful and creative. I want to connect with scholars from all over the world to share research ideas, keep tab of plant improvement efforts, build networks and foster speedy access to technologies and improved crop varieties to small holder farmers in Africa". Follow her on Twitter: @modestannedi
- Mathieu A.T. Ayenan is a Beninese PhD candidate at the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement at University of Ghana, where he is majoring in Plant Breeding. He is currently investigating the genetic architecture of heat tolerance in tomatoes and defining heterotic groups to speed up breeding for heat tolerance in tomatoes. He says "I yearn to share my experiences of doing research in Africa for african farmers with plant scientists across the world, to expand my network and actively take part in nurturing the next generation of plant scientists. I want to leverage this network to share with african plant scientists, the various opportunities available at ASPB and other professional societies for capacity building and career development". Follow him on Twitter: @Mathieuayenan
- Chinedu Charles Nwafor is a Nigerian Post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and his research focuses on plant genomics, plant biochemistry, and plant molecular biology. His current research is centered on the application of synthetic biology to improve root systems for crop yield and productivity. As a member of ASPB ARN, he says "I am fascinated by the opportunity to participate in a research community that aims to positively impact Africa’s research landscape. With that in mind, I hope to contribute to the platform by connecting with more researchers from Africa, share my knowledge, experiences, skills, and collaboratively exploit new ideas." Follow him on Twitter: @aforntacc
- Mary Ranketse is a South African PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria and she is majoring in plant genetics. Her research focuses on the genetic diversity, whole genome sequencing, assembly and comparative genomics of the Macadamia tree genome. As a member of the ASPB ARN, she says "The African continent is very rich and diverse in people, raw material and unique plants. The problems we face on the planet, and especially Africa can be solved more efficiently with collaborations, and exchanging of knowledge and skills. This network is a great space to do just that. This allows different individuals and sectors to come together, work together, and support each other to achieve our common goals of ending food insecurity, bringing good health, and broadening skills and knowledge to even the most remote people". Follow her on Twitter: @mranketse1
- Chidi Afamefule is a Nigerian-Spanish senior research officer (Post-doc) at the University of Essex. His research focuses on the use of genome editing technologies to improve the photosynthetic efficiency of crops. As to ASPB ARN's mission, he says "It offers a great opportunity to connect with African scholars across the globe, share experiences and ideas, and ultimately bridge the gap between African farmers and research programs willing to make an impact on their lives". Follow him on Twitter: @ScienceChidi
- Prince Zogli is a Ghanaian research scientist (Post-doc) at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. His research focuses on the use of omics, molecular and gene editing technologies to improve plant tolerance to crop insect pests. As an ASPB ARN scholar, he says: “It is an excellent platform to foster collaborative Ag-research among researchers on the continent and abroad. I'm looking forward to engaging fellow scientists on the platform and championing collaborative research ideas/discoveries that promote sustainable agriculture and food security". Follow him on Twitter: @PZogli
- Ruth Ndathe is a Kenyan Ph.D. candidate at Louisiana State University. Her research is on how plants respond to osmotic stress, specifically the role of phosphatidic acid, a membrane phospholipid in osmotic stress signaling. She says “Most of Africa still depends on agriculture as a source of food and livelihood and this platform will be an excellent opportunity to foster relationships with African scholars both within and out of the continent. Hopefully from this we can create better solutions in agriculture providing better livelihoods. This initiative will also be important in providing mentorship to young African students especially women to study science". Follow her on Twitter: @ruthndathe
- Femi Alaba is a Nigerian Ph.D. student at the University of Maine, Orono. He has been working to improve crop nutritional content and resilience to adverse conditions since 2011. His current research focuses on leveraging haploid induction to develop novel diploid potato germplasm. He says, “The African Researchers Network is a dynamic research community that will facilitate bi-directional knowledge and materials flow between Africa and other regions of the world.” Follow him on Twitter: @oaalaba
- Oluwatoyosi F. Akintayo is a Nigerian Ph.D. student majoring in Plant Biology at Iowa State University, Ames, USA. Her research interest is Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, specifically in the role of Nonhost resistance genes in plant immunity to plant pathogens. “African scientists home and abroad need a platform to discuss advances and challenges of Plant research across the continent. I am positive that this ARN network will foster collaborations and research capacity building”. Follow her on Twitter: @mztys