Recognising Excellence – RUFORUM IMPRESSA Awards Winners 2017

IMPRESSA AWARD 2017 Winner- Professor Brice Sinsin, Rector – Université d’Abomey Calavi

During the 13thAnnual General Meeting, RUFORUM recognized outstanding university scientists and leaders who have made significant contribution in the field of agricultural research and science for development in Africa, through the Impact Research and Science in Africa or IMPRESSA Award.

The IMPRESSA Award, which is been run for the fourth round in 2017, recognizes outstanding university led contributions to development through agricultural research and science, human and institutional capacity building. The competitive award is open to all agricultural scientists/ researchers/ development workers from the RUFORUM member Universities through nomination. Both individuals and teams whose work, undertaken in Africa has contributed to the objectives of IMPRESSA Award are eligible for nomination which are sent to the RUFORUM Secretariat for selection of the winners. This years’ winners come from Benin, South Africa and Ethiopia.

IMPRESSA AWARD 2017 Winner- Professor Brice Sinsin, Rector – Université d’Abomey Calavi

Professor Brice SINSIN is an agronomist and forester from the Republic of Benin. He has special interest in applied ecology, species and biome conservation. He was appointed a full Professor in July 2005, and is the Director of Laboratory of Applied Ecology at the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, and Rector of University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin).

He has over 25 years’ experience in research and teaching activities, and has published more than 350 scientific papers in outstanding ISI-ranked journals, and books and conference proceedings in the field of natural resources management, agroforestry, and biodiversity conservation. He is a visiting Professor at many African, Asian, European and North American universities. He has also coordinated more than 20 research-development projects and is a member of more than 25 international scientific groups such as IUCN-WCPA, World Agroforestry Center, etc.

Professor Brice SINSIN has been granted a number of national and international academic honours. He created a multi-university master’s degree and PhD programmes with connection and application to Biodiversity, Protected Areas and Wildlife management.

Since 1993, Professor SINSIN has organized several conferences, seminars and workshops that promote discussion and dissemination of research findings and outputs to various stakeholders. As such, he has led many activities on capacity building within local communities for biodiversity conservation through parabiologist training and the establishment of two botanical gardens at Papatia and Pehunco in Benin.

Professor SINSIN’s commitment to science in Africa in general and West Africa in particularly and his success have triggered many interests from students and young scientists across the globe. As a result, Professor SINSIN has supervised more than 60 PhD dissertations to date.

As Rector of the University of Abomey Calavi (UAC), Professor SINSIN led the establishment of UAC Foundation to secure funds for facilitating the professional insertion of recently graduated students through the Volunteer Group of UAC and the UAC Startup Valley. In 2017, Professor SINSIN was appointed by the President of Benin His Excellence Patrice TALON to coordinate the writing of the scientific basis for the implementation of the National Governmental Action Plan 2017 – 2021.

Elected as Rector of the University of Abomey-Calavi in 2011 and 2014, Professor SINSIN has contributed greatly to the progress in Africa.

IMPRESSA AWARD 2017 First Runner Up- Professor Peter Mbati, Vice Chancellor and Principal – University of Venda

Professor Peter Mbati

Professor Peter Mbati, a Kenyan by birth, is the Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Venda (UNIVEN) in South Africa. He obtained his PhD in Parasitology from Kenyatta University in 1995 and, thereafter, completed a postdoctoral training in advanced studies in protozoan diseases in 1997 from the Research Centre for Protozoan Molecular Immunology, Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Japan.

Prof. Mbati serves on the Executive Board of RUFORUM (Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture) and, the Association of African Universities (AAU) among other national and international Boards.

He was recognized as being a South African National Research Foundation–rated research scientist between 2000 and 2016. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed internationally recognized journals and has supervised 23 post graduate students at Masters and doctoral levels in the fields of parasitology.

As Vice Chancellor at UNIVEN, he has overseen major transformative initiatives at the institution, including extensive re-engineering of the academic programs, exponential growth in research outputs and post graduate student’s enrollment and construction of state of the art infrastructure to the value of R 1.5 Billion. In addition he sourced R6 Million from Bank SETA towards funding a nascent SAICA-accredited BCom accounting programme.

Professor Mbati has previously served as the Acting Director of the Biomedical Sciences Research Centre of the Kenya Medical Research Institute, Campus Principal of the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State and Group Executive of the Livestock Business Division of the Agricultural Research Council, South Africa.

Some of the awards bestowed to Professor Mbati include:

  • Award of “Outstanding Leadership” bestowed on him by University of the Free State, Qwaqwa campus during their 25th Silver Jubilee Celebrations in 2007
  • “La Matinal Educational Excellence Award for outstanding contribution to Education” at the inaugural Africa-India Partnership Summit in Mauritius in 2011
  • An award for Excellent Leadership by the Limpopo Black Management Forum in 2013.

IMPRESSA AWARD 2017 Second Runner Up- Professor Fetien Abay Abera, Vice President for Research and Community Services – Mekelle University

Professor Fetien Abay Abera

Professor Fetien is the Vice President for Research and Community Services in Mekelle University, Ethiopia. She holds a Diploma in Plant Science from Hawassa College of Agriculture (1985); a Bachelor of Science (1991) from Hawassa University of Agriculture, Ethiopia. She received her Master’s in Rural Resource Management from University of Wales, Bangor, UK in 1996, and a PhD in Plant Breeding and Seed Science from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in 2007. Professor Fetien is the first Professor in Plant Breeding and Seed in the Department of Dryland Crop and Horticultural Sciences in the history of Ethiopia. She has done outstanding research as evidenced by the release of five climate resilient, high yielding and quality barley varieties. As the Integrated Seed Sector Development Tigray Regional State coordinator since 2009, she has organised 50 seed producer cooperatives who are currently supplying the major seed requirements for the Tigray region.

Professor Fetien has also won several grants, led several large projects and created synergy among them which has resulted in high impact of the projects on community development. This has enabled seed producer cooperatives to access seed cleaning machines, strengthened women farmers’ engagement in value addition of Local food preparation, and promoted rural entrepreneurship as well as community biodiversity management. Her involvement as the national coordinator on a five year project (2014-2018) on USAID’s Feed the Future Innovation Lab on Postharvest Loss in collaboration with Kansas State University (USA) has benefitted many farmers and trained six PhD students.

She has set up four new laboratories (for molecular breeding, nutrition, and two postharvest laboratories). Professor Fetien has published 81 papers (32 peer reviewed journal papers and 49 others), and several book chapters.

Professor Fetien has received numerous awards and recognitions, but her greatest asset is the support she has provided to women in agriculture to bring awareness about gender equality, an ignored role of women in agriculture. Professor Fetien in is a dedicated university professor who has supervised 54 MSc/PhD graduate students. In addition, she is actively involved in upgrading women Diploma students to BSc level (as she herself did many years ago).

Written by Catherine Mloza-Banda, Onsite Reporter for the RUFORUM AGM 2017


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