[RUFORUM Postdoc Fellowship] Experience at University of Rwanda: Dr Emmanuel Masabo

During my PhD studies at Makerere University, I obtained research funding support from Carnegie Corporation through RUFORUM. It helped me to undertake the research activities and finish on time. I exactly graduated in January 2020. After graduation, I returned to University of Rwanda (UR). At UR, in addition to teaching, I also had to supervise the students (both undergraduate and past-graduate), write grant proposals, do advanced research, do some administrative work, etc. The after PhD journey had started, I was eager to serve better. How could I do better? What expertise did I need? How could I get it? Many questions came to my mind. I found myself in a situation, where I needed to learn more and do more than expected. So experience was needed.

The research team meeting farmers at Burera District in 2021

A few months after my graduation, in May 2020, a PostDoc call for applications was received from RUFORUM to support former Carnegie beneficiaries. It was a first quick opportunity after my doctoral studies. It was a way to address some of the aforementioned issues, and acquire the relevant expertise that will allow me to undertake my professional activities successfully. I wrote a grant proposal, applied for and obtained funding from RUFORUM. I thank RUFORUM for this opportunity. The proposed PostDoc research was about developing an AI-enabled IoT system for early detection and prevention of Mycotoxins in Cereals. The research focused on Maize, with the aim to scale to other cereals later.

This research was motivated by the fact that in Rwanda maize is currently a major food for children, adults and even heavily used in animal feed. As a major food, farmers have become interested in growing it as an opportunity to not only feed them but also bring income into their homes. However, according to some reports and other information provided to me by some local manufacturers, a significant amount of maize is not accepted in the market due to mycotoxin infections. This negatively affects farmers. On top of that, rejected maize could end up being used in fodder or in small local markets, which could pose serious health risks to the consuming population. The project offered an opportunity to learn more about this problem and to propose better solutions.

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