< Our Work < Programs < African Women in Science Program < 2021
African Women in Science (AWIS)
The African Women in Science program is a transformative initiative for early-career African women scientists from the African Great Lakes region. The program aims to build capacity and offer mentorship opportunities for African women scientists who are actively engaged in African Great Lakes and freshwater research.
Participants will be a part of a 10-month cohort of African women scientists and become the next generation of African women scientists catalyzing positive change in the African Great Lakes.
Applying to the program
Thank you for your interest in the African Center for Aquatic Research and Education (ACARE)'s African Women in Science 2022 program. The 2022 AWIS Program Application process is now closed. Please continue to visit the site for updates.
AWIS is a ten-month program that integrates learning experiences from a cohort of peers and a variety of experts and mentors. The 2022 program will be a hybrid program, with many components taking place online, and a one-month international immersion experience in North America. Participants have ongoing assignments related to core components. Program components include:
- Leadership Development
- Scientific Skills
- Communications Techniques
- Networking Strategy
Take part in events at international symposia, which includes meeting other early-, mid-, and late-career women scientists to build a supportive community and mentor-mentee relationships
Attend international conferences to present work and integrate into the larger scientific community
Connect individually with senior scientists, and other experts for insights, advice and problem-solving related to research and careers
International Connections. Each participant will be invited to attend the annual Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting, to be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, North America, to:
Increase the global view of freshwater resources, for themselves, and others
Gain input on their research, writing, scientific approaches
Enhance their network of expertise to solve issues they face
Strengthen future opportunities for research, careers, and knowledge
Offer solutions and input to other global freshwater experts
Work on a project in a small group or individually that may be related to their current work, or another topic they can explore through the program
Develop end products that may include a short paper or journal article on their topic, a funding proposal or presentation that compares aspects of different lakes with input from peers and mentors
Present resent projects at the end of the program
What participants give:
Commit to full participation in monthly programming over the course of 10 months
Use the experiences to build your current work
Complete assignments based on core program components
Map in their progress journey along the way to share with the group
Have opportunities to present work/research to the larger scientific community
What participants get:
Make peer connections in a transboundary cohort
Build their professional network, locally, regionally, globally
Receive feedback from the larger scientific community
Grow your professional network
Take part in relevant skills training
Gain insight to grow leadership
The 2022 AWIS cohort has women from five countries working on all seven of the African Great Lakes and multiple connecting tributaries.
Catherine Nyawira Wachira
During 2022 we lost our friend and colleague Ms. Catherine "Cate" Wachira. Cate was a passionate scientist, working on the freshwater that sustains us all. We lost her too soon. Catherine was an integral, dedicated and uplifting member of ACARE’s African Women in Science (AWIS) program. She has been a sister in the AWIS community and her loss is deeply felt. During the time she spent at AWIS meetings and in Kigoma at the Species In Ancient Lakes conference with the AWIS program, she brought much intellect and a joyful sprit to those around her. She supported others in pursuing their goals and dreams and was motivated to pursue her own as well. We are heartbroken that she is unable to achieve her goals as a scientist, a mother, and a wife. We carry her beautiful spirit with us as an inspiration to follow our dreams. May her memory be a blessing to her family and friends.
Catherine's Biography from the beginning of the program, written at the beginning of 2022:
Catherine Wachira is a young energetic scholar passionate about aquaculture. She believes Africa is a great land with immense potential and we should never be considered a food insecure continent if we manage our African Great Lakes well. We need the right knowledge and skills to utilize fully, our fresh water resources.
Her passion on aquaculture started when she received the opportunity to join the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute at the beginning of 2021.She received a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology at the University. After joining KMFRI, she learned that fish farming is one of the most lucrative ventures and it could feed this continent if people have the right knowledge and skills. Most fish farmers fail to produce the desired yields because they lack the expertise needed to make it happen and the right skills on value addition technologies. Her research focuses on the different challenges fish farmers face and ways to mitigate them. If well managed, fish farming can eradicate poverty and also make Africa a food secure continent.
A video that Catherine made as part of her vision for women scientists. Recorded at the beginning of 2022.
UGANDA - LAKE VICTORIA
Uganda National Meteorological Authority
Donnata is a professional Meteorologist with a Bachelor of science in Meteorology from Makerere University, Uganda.
She works as a Weather Analyst with the Uganda National Meteorological Authority, where she is the project lead coordinator on a developing project, "Strengthening Meteorological Services to Increase Resilience in Uganda." She analyses weather systems, monitors severe weather events, and issues warnings and advisories about severe weather events to the public, generating daily weather forecasts, and issuing aviation weather forecasts.
With a passion for marine services, her primary focus is on increasing the resilience of communities on and around Lake Victoria through using an impact-based forecasting and warning services approach.
MALAWI - LAKE MALAWI/NIASSA/NYASA
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Gladys is academically trained as a fisheries scientist at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She is an upcoming researcher in the field of aquaculture and fisheries management. Recently she carried out research in estimating the economic valuation of river ecosystem in Malawi, taking a case of Linthipe River basin. Employing a mix of methods including Willingness to Pay, the study revealed the high value that riverine ecosystems have on the human livelihoods. It is worth to expand the research to cover wider number of rivers to appreciate the specific values and reasons for their valuations. Gladys was born to a Malawian father and Zimbabwean mother. In her free time she enjoys cooking and chatting with her family.
RWANDA - LAKES KIVU, ALBERT, EDWARD
Marie Claire Dusabe
Justus Liebig University
Marie Claire Dusabe is currently doing her PhD in Animal Ecology and Systematics at Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. Her goal is to develop a Biotic Index for the lakes of the East African Rift Valley using macroinvertebrates. Claire studied Wildlife and Aquatic Resources Management at the University of Rwanda and subsequently obtained a Master's degree in Natural Resources Ecology, Management, and Conservation at Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda. Claire has studied the entire Congo Basin on the Rwandan side, where she worked on 59 Congo Basin rivers to assess their water quality based on macroinvertebrate diversity. Before starting her PhD studies, Claire worked with the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association on bats in Rwanda. For her determination to save bats, she has been awarded different prizes including a Wildlife Warrior 2019, a Conservation Hero 2019 and a National Geographic Explorer 2019. Claire believes that more women in Science would lead to better science, research, and innovation.
TANZANIA - LAKES VICTORIA
Catherine Ajuna Fridolin
Aquatic Scientist & MSc Candidate
University of Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Catherine Fridolin is an aquatic and fisheries scientist currently pursuing a master of science in fisheries and aquaculture at the university of Dar es salaam (UDSM). She's in love with the aquatic resources for the benefits it serves to the communities.
TANZANIA - LAKE VICTORIA
Grite Nelson Mwaijengo
Lecturer and Researcher
Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology
Grite Nelson Mwaijengo is a freshwater ecologist who holds a Ph.D. in Biology, from KU Leuven, Belgium. She is currently working as a lecturer and researcher at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) in Arusha, Tanzania. Grite's main research interests span the areas of development and use of GIS-remote sensing and eco-hydrological tools in the assessment and monitoring of freshwater ecosystems. Specifically, Grite is interested in developing, validation and use of biological indices to improve the health of the freshwater ecosystems. She is keenly interested in influencing policy and decision-making processes on sustainable management of the freshwater ecosystems in Tanzania and the East African Great Lakes region through sound scientific research and information.
KENYA, LAKE TURKANA
Christine Gakii Mwirigi
Kenya Fisheries Service
Ms. Mwirigi is from Lodwar in Kenya. She is a passionate scientist in the field of capture fisheries, currently working with Kenya Fisheries Service as a Fisheries Officer posted on Lake Turkana. She is tasked with the responsibility to regulate fishing activities in order to conserve the fishery; under this role, she licenses fishermen and registers fishing vessels, and ensures illegal gear is not used in fishing. She works closely with beach management units along the lake to help conserve the resources in the fishery and ensure sustainable use of the fishery for long-term use to boost economic stability of the Turkana fishing community. She intends to further her studies in the area of capture fisheries management to widen her scope of knowledge in order to be more effective and efficient in her mandate. Additionally, Ms. Mwirigi enjoys working with women and especially empowering those from marginalized communities. Her goal is to see many women in these marginalized fishing communities actively participate in the different areas in the Fisheries sector such as fish processing, fish trade with well organized and funded groups as well in the co-management units in Lake Turkana.
UGANDA, LAKES EDWARD AND VICTORIA
Rubirizi District Local Government
Mary Nantongo is a Ugandan Aquaculture and Fisheries scientist holding a Masters of Science in Health of Aquatic Animal Resources from Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania and Bachelors of Science in Fisheries and Aquaculture from Makerere University, Uganda. Mary has experience in fisheries and aquaculture research specifically in aquatic animal health, capture fisheries and biodiversity conservation. She is deeply passionate about Aquatic Animal Health, a field she has done enormous research in with National Fisheries Resources Research Institute and Makerere University including epidemiological studies, diagnostics and development of control and preventive strategies of fish health issues especially in Aquaculture systems around the Lake Victoria region. Mary is currently a Fisheries Officer with Rubirizi District Local Government and is engaged in water and fisheries resource management of Lakes Edward and George and the connecting Kazinga Channel system in Uganda. Her goal is to develop and apply knowledge, innovations and skills to build viable solutions for increased but sustainable fisheries productivity, biodiversity conservation, food security and economic growth.
MALAWI, LAKE MALAWI/NIASSA/NYASA
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Ms. Sinda is a Masters student in aquaculture at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Malawi. She is currently pursing her masters degree in aquaculture at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources with an undergraduate background in fisheries. Her research topic is titled "Analysis of the quality of fried and smoked Engraulicypris sardella and Copadichromis species using Chitofu 3 in 1 fish processing technology" in comparison to traditional fish processing units. Ms. Sinda is also doing an internship under Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture and watershed management project where she technically and logistically supports the project with preparation and implementation of project activities to increase recovery of fish stocks through multispecies and watershed management, reduce poverty through sustained income from fisheries, increase fish consumption and strengthen nutritional security. Her ambition is to become a productive female fisheries scientists the sector can rely on.
RWANDA - LAKES IHEMA, MIRENGERO, KIVUMBA, AND HAGO
Conservation and Research Assistant
Akagera Management Complany
Diane Umutoni holds a Master’s degree in Hydrobiology from China and a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Aquatic Resources Management from Rwanda. She currently works as a Conservation and Research Assistant at Akagera National Park, a job that involves answering the key ecological questions to assist in management decision. She carries out different monitoring and has been focusing on fisheries management in the park and collecting various data to understand factors that affect daily catch. She has worked on different research projects in animal ecology, ecotoxicology, Aquaculture, mating preference and predation, and public health.
Ms. Umutoni is passionate about research and the way it helps in making important decisions; is passionate about seeing women becoming strong scientists; and has worked on scientific research based projects, aiming to provide a safe and a healthy space for every living organism. She believes that water is life.
KENYA - LAKE VICTORIA
KENYA - LAKES TURKANA, VICTORIA
Elizabeth Wambui Wanderi
Kenya Fisheries Service
Elizabeth Wanderi is working with Kenya Fisheries Service as a Fisheries Officer in the Lake Turkana Region. Her role as a Fisheries officer is to manage, develop and conserve fisheries resources of Lake Turkana and promoting 'eat more fish' campaigns among the community to promote an alternative food source. She is also pursuing a Master of Science in Aquaculture at Kisii University, Kenya researching how to maximize factors of production in Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) cage farming in Lake Victoria, to gain optimum profits. Her research interest areas include; fisheries management, aquaculture, gender equality, and food security. She strongly believes that education is the key to empowering women so that they can fully participate in the decision-making process and management of natural resources for sustainable livelihoods.
2022 AWIS Sponsors
Generous Private Donor
Carhartt generously donated field equipment (rain jackets, work and field boots and shoes, and backpacks) so that these women, who often do not have such gear in their studies and research, are adequately outfitted for the elements. The equipment, shown here on our cohort, was put to use on USFWS and Ohio Dept. of Natural Resource vessels.
The African Women in Science (AWIS) program is actively seeking partnerships. The success of AWIS relies on the support of donors who recognize what investing in the next generation of freshwater experts means for our global freshwater future. Together, we can answer the global call to enhance the participation of women in solving our most critical freshwater issues. To support the AWIS program please reach
Ted Lawrence, IISD-ACARE Executive Director: email@example.com
The African Women in Science (AWIS) program is a joint program through the International Institute of Sustainable Development and the African Center for Aquatic Research and Education.