Four Ghanaians women scientist are among 20 others whose excellence has won them up to $5000 as grants under the OWSD Early Career fellowship programme.
Dr Mavis Owureku-Asare, Dr Mercy Badu, Dr Edem Mahu and Dr Priscilla Kolibea Mante have been chosen as part of the second cohort of the OWSD Early Career fellowship programme.
The funding for the fellowship is provided by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is to enable them to lead research projects at their home institutes, and to build up research groups that will attract international visitors.
The Early Career fellows were selected from a highly competitive pool of candidates based on the strength of their research proposals and their proven scientific excellence as well as leadership skills.
Meet all the 4 Ghanaian scientists who excelled.
Dr Edem Manu, Lecturer, Department of Marine and Fisheries Science, University of Ghana
Her research seeks to reduce the spread of nutrients from fertilized farmlands into lagoons and other coastal environments, through the development of easily accessible, cheap and user-friendly soil nutrient testing kits based on Android/interactive voice response (IVR) technology that can be used to limit excessive use of fertilizers.
Nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates can be beneficial to aquatic ecosystem productivity; however, over a certain threshold, they can cause adverse effects such as algal blooms, creation of low oxygen zones, and acidification of bottom water that can lead to impaired water quality and loss of biodiversity.
Dr. Mahu aims to providing farmers in agricultural zones near coastal lagoons with the soil nutrient testing kits, train them in the use of the kits, and design a routine water quality monitoring programme for Ghanaian lagoons as part of a comprehensive project to preserve the lagoon ecosystems.
Dr Priscilla Kolibea Mante, Senior Lecturer, Department of Pharmacology, KNUST
Medical and health sciences
She focuses on identifying microRNA biomarkers of epilepsy in Ghanaian epilepsy patients. Her research aims to provide genomic data for management of epilepsy patients in Ghana as well as promote accuracy of epilepsy diagnosis.
Currently, proper epilepsy diagnosis is dependent on expensive methods such as electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which may be unaffordable to epileptic patients in developing countries or may sometimes be completely absent.
Establishment of definitive epilepsy-associated biomarkers which can be accurately detected using portable and easy-to-use diagnostic methods would be a relief for such patients. The study will further apply these microRNA biomarkers in predicting drug-resistant epilepsy in patients.
Dr Mercy Badu, Senior Lecturer, Department of Chemistry, KNUST
She focuses on harnessing underutilized, non-traditional oilseeds for incorporation into food and other industrial products. Micronutrients in oilseeds and nuts can be used as food to reduce hunger and malnutrition in poor rural communities.
The aim of Dr Badu’s research is to identify and characterize these micronutrients as well as macronutrients, anti-nutritional factors and medicinal properties of the oilseeds.
Once the potential of the identified oilseeds and nuts has been established, farmers can begin to cultivate these plants to ensure their continuous availability and earn greater income.
Dr Mavis Owureku-Asare, Centre Manager, Radiation Technology Centre, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission
She is developing new solar drying technologies that can be used to process, add value, and extend the shelf life of tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables. High post-harvest losses (up to 50%) are incurred along the tomato value chain in Ghana because of the absence of facilities to store, process and extend the tomatoes’ shelf life.
Ghana does not have an effective processing mechanism for tomatoes, largely owing to the cost of production, and currently relies on importing a large number of tomato products, in particular, tomato paste.
Dr Owureku-Asare hopes that her research on various types of solar drying methods will lead to an affordable and sustainable commercial processing method to produce tomato puree and reduce the reliance on imported tomato paste and other products, that can eventually be applied to other food products as well.