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University don bags multimillion research grants

A senior lecturer at the University of Embu bagged a total of Sh106 Million research grants from the German Research Foundation.

In a press release to media houses, University of Embu Vice Chancellor Daniel Mugendi said the grants won by Dr Mark Otieno are meant to investigate the functional complimentary between nocturnal and diurnal pollinators along a land-use gradient in Taita Hills biodiversity hotspots in Kenya.

While congratulating Dr. Otieno for winning the research grants, the university VC said the research aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Kenya Vision 2030 which aim to promote biodiversity.

“By studying the impact of human activity on pollinators and plant reproduction, this research will inform sustainable agricultural practices that support biodiversity and food security,” he stated.

He added that the research will also be fundamental in Kenya’s vision 2030 realization towards environmentally sustainable development.

The VC also added that the research will inform policy and agricultural practices that promote sustainable development and protect biodiversity in the entire world.

He said the research will be running for three years commencing in May 2023 to May 2026 under the implementation of a panel of researchers from the University of Embu spearheaded by Dr Otieno.

The University of Wuerzburg in Germany will also be charged in the implementation of the research project and that it will be represented by Prof. Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter and Dr Marcell Peters.

The VC stated that the expertise and experience of Prof. Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter and Dr Marcell Peters will be fundamental in the implementation of the research project.

Prof Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter is a professor of spatial ecology, plant-pollinator interactions, tropical agroecosystems, and crop pollination while Dr Marcell Peter is an expert in montane biodiversity and ecology, organismic traits and ecosystem functions, and land use change.

Dr Otieno who is the Director of Research and Extension at the university said that he believes the research will have a significant impact on food security in Africa by increasing the number of pollinators which is crucial for the reproduction of many plant species.

Dr Otieno who holds a PHD in Agroecology from the University of Reading (UK), a Master of Science in Animal Ecology and a Bachelor of Education (Science degree in Biology from Kenyatta university.

After his PHD, he joined Alexander von Humboldt Foundation as a research Fellow where he did a study on the influence of landscape and field-scale factors on pollinator and pest natural enemy communities and pollination, pest control, and gene flow in field beans in Lower Franconia Germany.

By Justus Anzaya

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