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Johnson, Ikpe, and Viens awarded one of eight mini-grants for the Year of Global Africa

MSU established the Alliance for Africa Partnership (AAP) Program in 2017, to help formulate research and engagement collaborations between MSU and African scholars, universities, and governments. AAP declared 2019 the Year of Global Africa (YGA), and sponsored a competition at MSU for “mini-grant” projects to enhance collaborative activities. STT is pleased to announce that a project by its very own professors Leonard Johnson (lead), Dennis Ikpe, and Frederi Viens, was one of eight winners. The competition was steep, since AAP received 63 applications!

Grant Reception Photo

Dr. Johnson had been discussing an idea with the other two STT faculty: how to develop a framework for data curation and repositories across sub-Saharan Africa.  The specific idea for the YGA project initiated from Dr. Ikpe’s participation in the International Data week held in Gaborone, Republic of Botswana (November 5th-9th, 2018). It became clear that a good relationship between MSU and a trusted top-level African researcher and university leader would be necessary for a successful interdisciplinary data center at MSU focused on African research. The STT team proposed to use the YGA funds to attract Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Vice Chancellor of University of Cape Town (UCT), and her team, to visit MSU for a free broad-audience lecture on the topic of data curation, repositories, and management. She and her collaborators will visit in mid-September 2019, her lecture is planned for September 17.  Prof. Phakeng was the deputy vice chancellor for research and innovation at the University of South Africa for seven years. On January 1st, 2017 she joined UCT as the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Internationalization. She became Vice Chancellor on July 1st, 2018. UCT is consistently Africa's top-ranked university. In August 2014, CEO magazine named Prof. Phakeng the most influential woman academic in Africa.

Prof. Phakeng’s visit will focus on research collaboration opportunities in Africa, and the role of data curation and repositories therein. It will also serve as the beginning for a joint research data initiative between MSU and UCT, with a goal to impact the research of MSU faculty, students, and their collaborators in the African research communities. UCT is home for the Africa Data Coordinating Centre (SADaCC). SADaCC is an administrative, data standardization and coordinating center for various research and infrastructure needs. It is jointly funded by South Africa National Research Foundation and the United States National Institutes of Health.