News from the MCAA - The MCAA Africa Chapter: Meet the new Chair

Newsletter

The MCAA Africa chapter provides a platform for me to collaborate, develop my career and assist in building a bridge between natural and social science by encouraging networking and collaboration among researchers and with policymakers

Precious Ekwere,

a personal account

My name is Precious Ekwere, and I am a researcher. I completed my PhD at Sensor Laboratory University of Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa and some aspects at the Autonomous University of Madrid (AUM), Spain. I am a recipient of prestigious PhD scholarship awards, such as (i) the Junior Research Exchange Fellowship Award (2019) under the European Union H2020 RISE INFINITE-CELL-DVL-777968 project; and (ii) the National Research Foundation (NRF) – The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS)/African Renaissance Doctoral Scholarship Award (2018 – 2021). My area of research interest and expertise is in the designing and development of electrochemical energy storage/generation cells based on highefficiency graphene nanomaterials. While at Sensor Lab, I served as the health and safety officer in the energy laboratory, ensuring that laboratory rules are adhered to by providing training, supervision and guidance to lab users. I have been actively involved in lectureship, mentorship and human capacity development at both the undergraduate and the MSc levels. Another area of interest for me is bridging the gap between natural and social sciences through collaborations between policymakers, diplomats, and scientists/researchers.

Why did you decide to run as Chair of the Chapter?

After completing an exchange program in Europe through the European Union's H2020 RISE INFINITE-CELL-DVL-777968 project, I joined the MCAA in 2020. I was eager to join the organization because its vision and mission resonated with me. To begin, MCAA envisions a future in which knowledge will benefit society, which piqued my interest. As previously stated, I am interested in bridging the gap between natural and social sciences through collaborations among policymakers, diplomats, and scientists/researchers. This tenet was also very visible in the core of MCAA. Among the pillars of MCAA are networking, science policy, and science communication, all of which are directly tied to my interests. I had been a member for about a year and felt I could add more value if I took on the challenge of leading the chapter because its values are values I am passionate about. I ran for the position of African chapter chair in order to contribute to the realization of this vision. I hoped that researchers, particularly those from the African continent, could connect, engage, and communicate regardless of discipline.

What will be the objectives of the Chapter under your tenure?

As the new MCAA Africa chapter Chair, my priorities will be inclined towards three major areas; 1) self- development of African researchers and the effective communication of science in Africa; 2) networking among members of the MCAA Africa Chapter; 3) global participation of the Africa Chapter group in The MCAA events.

I want to encourage and assist the Africa Chapter in promoting researchers' careers, as well as contribute to the creation of a forum for Alumni to exchange ideas and work on projects. I would like to help the MCAA Africa Chapter (a) establish itself as an important "voice of researchers" within the AU-EU Research Policy, and (b) guide alumni through funding opportunities in order to provide options for future career development and training. Because I am interested in researchers’ well-being and mindfulness, I want to facilitate dialogue and training aimed at developing healthy and prosperous researchers. I also intend to use this opportunity to enhance public awareness of African research and to establish links within the global research and innovation community, with a particular emphasis on the MSCA experience of international and inter-sector mobility. I aspire to accomplish these goals through conducting meetings, debate forums, professional development programs, joint events with national/regional/global partners, and social events that promote networking and collaboration for societal benefit.

What is the role of the Chapter within the MCAA community?

We contribute to and support the advancement of knowledge in Africa by organizing webinars that are tailored to an African audience. We represent the MCAA in global events happening in Africa, for example the AU-EU Innovation Agenda Stakeholders Event in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2022 and the World Science Forum that will take place in South Africa in December 2022. We also provide insight to the African perspective of advancing scientific research communication, research funds and science policy.

Do you already have plans for events and activities? Can you tell us some?

Yes, we do. For instance, the Africa Chapter hosted an event on November 11th, 2022 called “Funding Options for Early Career Researchers". The African Chapter, in collaboration with Euraxess Africa, held a webinar on the 17th of November, with the theme “Horizon Europe: Opportunities for Sub-Saharan African Countries".

How will you cooperate with other Chapters and Working Groups?

We intend to participate in activities planned by the various Chapters and working groups, as well as get them involved in our planned activities, by updating our web page with those planned activities, and using other means of advertising. We also plan to have a physical presence at the MSCA General Assembly & Annual Conference to meet other members and start effective collaborations.

What would you say to members who are considering joining the Chapter?

I encourage new members to join and we will be happy to welcome them into the group. I will also encourage them to be active in the group as there is a lot we can do together to push the objectives of the group forward.

Precious Ekwere
MCAA Africa Chapter Chair
africa.chapter@mariecuriealumni.eu

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