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IDRC and the National Research Foundation announce winning projects under new South Africa-Canada Research Chairs Initiative

July 4, 2017 NAIROBI – Today, Jean Lebel, President of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and Dr. Molapo Qhobela, CEO of South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF), announced the winning projects under the new South Africa–Canada Research Chairs Initiative. The new South Africa–Canada Research Chairs Initiative is made up of the South Africa–Canada Research Chairs Trilateral Partnership Initiative and the South Africa–Canada Research Chairs Mobility Initiative.  Funded jointly by IDRC and the NRF, this initiative seeks to invest in the development of research in sub-Saharan Africa through the establishment of tri-lateral partnerships involving researchers from Canada, South Africa, and another sub-Saharan African country.

“This collaboration marks a huge leap forward in terms of building stronger linkages between Canadian and South African researchers. It is an example of how we can innovate in the way we collaborate and fund research,” said Jean Lebel, President of IDRC.

“Our approach is a fundamental expression of our collective belief in the essential role that research can and has to play, and the necessity of partnership to leverage our complementary strengths,” said Dr. Molapo Qhobela, CEO of South Africa’s NRF.

South Africa–Canada Research Chairs Trilateral Partnership Initiative

The following new Trilateral Research Chairs were selected by an international review panel from a large field of strong proposals. Each of the projects will be awarded up to CA $ 1 million for up to five years.

South Africa-Canada-Kenya

This project, a collaboration between Tebello Nyokong (Rhodes University), Juan Scaiano (University of Ottawa), and Edith Amuhaya (United States International University), focuses on the use of nanotechnology to develop materials that can provide solutions for current environmental issues, such as water and soil decontamination, as well as the design of new systems to reduce the cost of current methods of purification. For more information, please see below in the Backgrounder.

Professors Nyokong and Scaiano are among the world’s top researchers in chemistry. Prof. Nyokong received the South African Chemical Institute Gold Medal in 2013 and South Africa’s highest National Order, the Order of Mapungubwe (Bronze) in 2005. She was recognised in 2013 with the Lifetime Achievement Award of the NRF.

Among many accolades, Prof. Scaiano was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2005 and received the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal for Science and Engineering in 2008.

Dr. Amuhaya has demonstrated excellence as a young researcher, having worked and studied in the United States and South Africa, and now establishing a strong research group in Nairobi.

South Africa-Canada-Uganda

This project is expected to be formally announced in Uganda in the coming weeks and involves Colleen Downs (University of KwaZulu-Natal), Colin Chapman (McGill University), and Patrick Omeja (Makerere University Biological Field Station, Uganda). It focuses on human-wildlife interactions impacting the rural poor of tropical countries. For more information, please see below in the Backgrounder.

Dr. Omeja has extensive experience as a researcher, including at Makerere’s field station. He has collaborated previously with Professor Chapman, who is well-known for his far-ranging research in Uganda, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Professor Downs has been recognized nationally and globally for her work in biology, and is consistently named the top-published academic at UKZN.

South Africa–Canada Research Chairs Mobility Initiative

In addition, six mobility grants of CA $40,000 each have been awarded under this initiative to further develop research collaboration between Canada and South Africa.

The awards span a range of natural sciences and engineering disciplines (e.g., ecology, genetics and physics), and a diverse group of universities, including Cape Town, Pretoria, Rhodes, Stellenbosch, Tshwane and Venda in South Africa, as well as Alberta, McMaster, McGill, Memorial and Victoria in Canada. Five of the twelve grantees are women.

Issued by the Canadian International Development Research Centre and the South African National Research Foundation. For more information please contact:

Contact for IDRC

Ghislain Desjardins, Senior Media Relations Advisor
media@idrc.ca | +1.613.696.2117 | @IDRC_CRDI

Contact for NRF

Thabiso Nkone, Corporate Communication Manager

thabiso.nkone@nrf.ac.za | +27.12.481.4149 | @NRF_News


About the South Africa–Canada Research Chairs Trilateral Partnership Initiative and the South Africa–Canada Research Chairs Mobility Initiative

Funded jointly by IDRC and the NRF, the South Africa–Canada Research Chairs Trilateral Partnership initiative seeks to invest in the development of research in sub-Saharan Africa through the establishment of tri-lateral partnerships involving researchers from Canada, South Africa, and another sub-Saharan African country. This initiative builds on existing research capabilities, links, and common research interests in all three countries.

The South Africa–Canada Research Chairs Mobility Initiative awards grants which are intended to seed or deepen research collaboration between existing Canadian and South African research chair holders through support for the mobility of faculty, students or postdoctoral fellows, and the organization of events such as workshops.

About Canada’s International Development Research Centre

Part of Canada’s foreign affairs and development efforts, IDRC invests in knowledge, innovation, and solutions to improve lives and livelihoods in the developing world. Bringing together the right partners around opportunities for impact, IDRC builds leaders for today and tomorrow and helps drive large-scale positive change.

About South Africa’s National Research Foundation

The NRF promotes and supports research through funding, human capital development and the provision of research infrastructure to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge. 

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