The first cohort of the Africa Doctoral Fellowship Scheme

Published on 12 April 2024

The University has launched a multi-million pound Doctoral Fellowship Scheme to develop capacity in partner universities and underpin sustainable long term collaborations between research teams in Dundee and Africa – here are the first group of awardees

On this page

The Africa Doctoral Fellowship Scheme is central to the University’s Africa Strategy, reflecting the commitment to broadening research ties and capacity building with strategic partners across the continent.  

The scheme is a commitment to funding 25 PhD places for candidates across Africa over 10 years, with a focus on PhD projects that aim to tackle issues throughout the continent.   

The first five awardees include individuals from Ghana, Malawi and Uganda, from the following institutions:  

  • Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (Malawi) 

  • Kyambogo University (Uganda) 

  • Malawi University of Science and Technology 

  • University of Malawi 

  • University of Ghana 

The group are undertaking PhDs at Dundee that focus on antimalarial drug resistance, deforestation, groundwater sustainability, medical education and mental health.

Read more about the first cohort and their projects below.

Edem Adika

Edem Adika 

Edem Adika, from the University of Ghana, is undertaking research in the University’s School of Life Sciences to understand the impact of parasite genetic background on antimalarial drug resistance in Africa.  

Edem said, “Malaria is a worldwide disease, but as we know, it's hardest hit is Africa, and it accounts for 90% of cases in Ghana.  

“There is resistance to most of the frontline drugs – Ghana has not seen resistance yet, but works are showing that resistance is gradually emerging in other African countries. We need to be on guard.  

“I’m looking to understand whether the genetic background of parasites helps them develop resistance, to contribute to our understanding of how resistance emerges. In doing that we can counter drug resistance and develop new drugs, ultimately bringing down the disease. 

“Dundee is really young university, but if you look at its track record, and given that they’ve landed a Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research, it shows that they are doing great work.” 


Adrian Ivan Kakinda

Adrian Ivan Kakinda, from Kyambogo University, is now based in Dundee’s School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law. His doctoral project looks at the mental health of children and young adults after adverse experiences.  

Through his research, Adrian seeks to address crucial gaps in understanding and supporting the mental well-being of young people. 

“Uganda's child and adolescent mental health status represents a critical public health emergency that requires prompt response," he said. "My steadfast dedication to comprehending and bolstering the mental wellbeing of adolescents, with a specific focus on Uganda, forms the fundamental basis of my quest for a doctoral degree in mental health investigation.

"Adolescence represents a formative stage where unique challenges and experiences can profoundly influence mental health outcomes. Through a targeted approach to understanding and supporting the mental health of young people, we can significantly shape their trajectories towards growth and development.

“Whether through counselling, advocacy, or research endeavours, I am resolutely committed to effecting positive change in the lives of young people, ensuring they have unfettered access to the support and resources necessary for their mental, emotional, and social wellbeing.

"The collaborative partnership between Kyambogo University and the University of Dundee offers an unparalleled opportunity to address the dearth of mental health care in Africa, particularly in Uganda."


Esther Mabedi

Esther Mabedi, from the Malawi University of Science and Technology, is undertaking research within Dundee’s School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law that looks to advance methods for assessing, mapping and managing risks to groundwater quality and access, with a particular focus on rural southern Malawi.  

“Groundwater is central to our rural areas and provides a lot of things for our communities,” she said. “Access points are places where communities converge and socialise - it’s more than just a source for us. Having it at its optimal quality and quantity is crucial.  

“Throughout my PhD I will be working with a real community in Malawi, looking at their approach in groundwater management and water provision, directly addressing and trying to improve social problems around water supply with the knowledge of science.  

“My research has the potential to inform policy in-country and will have a huge impact on improving how people access water in Malawi - it can inform how best we can manage water supply, looking at how we ensure that the the water is of good quality all of the time, and how we share information about the the water supply system. Being able to study that and provide that for these people is important to me.  

“A PhD has always been on my mind, and this is a very exciting opportunity that offers the chance to study at one of the best universities in Scotland.” 


Colleen Mbughi

Colleen Mbughi, from the University of Malawi, is also based in the University’s School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law. Her project looks at the changing forest livelihoods in Malawi, with a particular focus on deforestation and livelihood challenges for young people in forest communities.  

“Deforestation is a huge problem in Malawi and is happening at a very high rate,” said Colleen. “However, the problem of deforestation is very difficult to handle – communities cut down trees and use them to earn a living, either selling it as wood for energy or construction, making charcoal to sell, and in some cases for medicinal purposes. 

“Here in Malawi, people rely on the forest for their livelihood. They use the forest to survive, as a source of income and other basic needs. Most of the young people in these communities are unemployed and depend on the forest to earn a living.  

“Deforestation directly affects them – if the trees aren't there anymore, how will they earn a living? The findings of my project will provide answers on how we stop deforestation and have sustainable forest development. 

“I'm excited to deepen my knowledge in an area I am interested in.” 


Gervasio Nyakax

Gervasio Nyakax, from Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, is pursuing a PhD in Medical Education at Dundee and is based at the University’s Centre for Medical Education. He has a specific interest in simulation education and low-cost virtual reality and will investigate how such tools can be implemented in a resource poor setting to improve competencies among health professionals. 

Healthcare students at KUHeS currently practice in hospitals, in real wards with real patients. Gervasio explained how this poses a risk to patient safety.  

He said, “Our literature shows that there are issues – in some cases, our students do not have the skills to handle patients, ultimately bringing harm.  

“My interest is looking at how we can improve student competence, skills and safety, and the use of virtual reality poses a low risk. When students acquire skills on the bedside of patients, in real hospitals, errors result in real harm. When practicing using virtual reality tools, there is room for mistakes, an opportunity to learn from mistakes and perfect skills.  

“We are coming from a low to middle income country, where we cannot afford to purchase advanced tools. Low-cost tools, such as virtual reality headsets, can replicate the actual environment in the wards. Students can then visualise the wards, see the patient and the condition and decide how they proceed with procedures.  

“My research will look at the skills of our students prior to any implementation of virtual reality tools, then introducing the tool and analysing whether this results in an improvement in skills and competency. I am hoping that after that, if the results are positive, we can roll out a project at KUHeS of the use of such tools in our curriculum.” 

Africa Initiative

Our long-term commitment to working in equitable partnership in research, education, and engagement, to enrich lives both in Scotland and Africa.


Press Office, University of Dundee

Story category Africa Initiative