Academic Mobility Paves way for Young Scholar from Benin, West Africa

EricEric Etchikinto Agoyi from Benin is a PhD student of Plant Breeding and Biotechnology at Makerere University, Uganda. The PhD in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology is one of the postgraduate programmes piloted by the RUFORUM Network. Eric’s PhD scholarship is under the EU supported Intra-ACP SHARE s project. His nascent PhD research protocol focusing on “Genetic study of promiscuous nodulation in soybean” won him the 2015 Norman Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Programme (LEAP) fellowship. The fellowship was awarded to him for his PhD research, targeting genetic and environmental factors involved in promiscuous nodulation in soybean. Through this fellowship, Eric will be mentored by Prof. Brian Diers, Associate Head of Crop Sciences Department of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a seasoned Soybean Breeder. He will also be working with Dr. Hesham Agrama of the International Institute of Topical Agriculture (IITA) Zambia, another well experienced Soybean Breeder. Through their mentorship and opportunity as well as exposure to vanguard laboratory facilities, Eric will conduct part of his research work at the University of Illinois. He will gain expertise in soybean breeding, conducting and supervising research, that he hopes he will use to invest in food security and capacity building in his home country Benin.

This career path and growth would not have been possible without the academic mobility opportunity which is increasingly becoming important among and between universities in Africa. At Makerere University, Eric has opportunity to interact and learn together with colleagues from several other African countries including, among others, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Ethiopia. That great opportunity has also enabled Eric to participate in many trainings and workshops to acquire diverse additional skills, including teaching skills, scholarly writing, research approach and proposal writing. Eric has also participated in training courses on modern concepts in plant breeding and biotechnology from USA (Cornell University and University of Arizona) and the Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU). Eric hopes to build upon these exposures and networks to engage in collaborative breeding programmes, knowledge sharing and dissemination of research findings that will benefit Africa and his home country Benin.

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