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iLABS@MAK organizes first National Remote Engineering Consortium Consultation seminar

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The iLABS@MAK Project, Faculty of Technology, Makerere University organized the first Consultation seminar on the formation of “The National Remote Engineering Consortium” held at the Imperial Royale Hotel on Friday 27th November 2009.

The iLABS@MAK Project, Faculty of Technology, Makerere University organized the first Consultation seminar on the formation of “The National Remote Engineering Consortium” held at the Imperial Royale Hotel on Friday 27th November 2009.

L-R Paul Musasizi and Proscovia Nakazinga co-hosts

 

The co-hosts of the day Paul Isaac Musasizi, Project Administrator, iLABS@MAK project and Proscovia Nakazinga, Developer iLABS@MAK project thanked guests for making time despite the public holiday and announced the theme of the day “Enriching Science Education through Remote Engineering”.

The Principal Investigator iLABS@MAK Project Prof. Sandy S. Tickodri-Togboa in his keynote address outlined the relevance of Remote Engineering in Science Education citing some applications already implemented at Makerere University such as The iLABS project at the Faculty of Technology executed in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) , Obafemi Awolowo University(OAU) Nigeria and the University of Dar-es-Salaam (UDSM) Tanzania with support from National Instruments and The MIT Open Course Ware project, aimed at freely sharing course material and references from MIT with the rest of the world.

Prof. Sandy S. Tickodri-Togboa Principal Investigator iLABS@MAKOther Remote Engineering applications identified include Video Conferencing, High-Tech digital libraries and collaborative development of software solutions, which with the advancement in Technology and infrastructural support such as the establishment of faster internet connections through the submarine fiber connections are the way to go.

He then cited a case study of The Internet2 , a non-profit consortium project conceived as an application-driven project, designed to be a complimentary network to support advanced scientific applications. This project, founded when representatives from 34 American Universities met in 1996 currently receives financial support from more than 180 Universities, over 80 companies and the US government.

In concluding his address, Prof. Togboa observed that we have to work together, like never before to make Education address the diversity of needs, expectations and interests in their cultural contexts noting that Remote Engineering can improve the quality of teaching, learning and sharing knowledge and information.

Prof. BaryamureebaProf. Nawangwe , Dean, Faculty of Technology, thanked Prof. Togboa for his address and invited Prof. Venansius Barymureeba, Acting Vice Chancellor, Makerere University to make his remarks. Prof. Baryamureeba thanked the Minister of Higher Education, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT, representatives from the private sector, Heads of Secondary Schools and various stakeholders for sparing time to attend this first consultation meeting. Voicing his support for the formation of a National Remote Engineering Consortium, he congratulated the Faculty of Technology for astutely being a model as far as furthering research critical to improving the teaching and learning methods in Makerere University is concerned, thanking Prof. Togboa’s for his valuable contribution in this regard. He then invited the Minister of Higher Education to officially open the seminar.

Hon. Mwesigwa Rukutana the Minister of State for Higher Education extended a warm welcome to his fellow members of the cabinet, representatives Educational Institutions and all delegates present including Andrew Watchorn and Lesley Yu from National Instruments, noting that their presence reiterated their commitment to improving the teaching and learning experience in Uganda.

Hon. Mwesigwa Rukutana Min. of State for Higher EducationHe re-affirmed The Government of Uganda’s commitment to making education for all a reality and preparing all citizens to meet the challenges of the 21st century. “This is why deliberate macro development policies and reforms like Universal Primary Education (1997) and Universal free Secondary Education (2007) were introduced as a key ingredient of the Educational Strategic Plan.”

He then challenged all stakeholders to utilize Remote Engineering in combating other social problems like the burden of poverty and HIV/AIDS “These are challenges we are facing across the nation, whose prevalence would be less with improved information dissemination.”

The Minister then noted that despite the Nation’s comparable or even better commitment to education, research and innovation in the region, we were not generating as many innovations, new business ideas and new jobs as some other African countries. He however hoped that the seminar would offer an opportunity to take a huge stride in the positive direction and declared the seminar open.

Andrew Watchorn, NIAndrew Watchorn, Senior Academic Field Engineer National Instruments who had prior to the seminar spent four days in the Faculty of Technology training students from several Universties noted that Uganda had some of the most intelligent young minds in the world. Andrew noted that applications such as those used during his four-day training were being utilized as components in world ground-breaking innovations such as the LEGO MINDSTORM NXT software and the CERN Large Hadron collider .

“The Education of Engineers cannot stop at what they learn in class or theory”. Andrew noted that instructors must go ahead and train engineers to apply their theory and continuously innovate.

Prof. Lugujo Head, Department of Elec. EngineeringAssociate Prof. Lugojjo, Head, Department of Electrical Engineering at the Faculty of Technology in his address called upon the Government, Private and Public sectors to come on board so as to leverage, implement and sustain innovations in our Institutions of Higher Learning. He encouraged all stakeholders to facilitate and demystify the teaching of Science and Technology in schools “We should democratize Science and Technology so as to encourage more students to take on science subjects and engineering”. He observed that he had so many brilliant project write-ups and theses written by his former students that were unfortunately gathering dust on shelves, hence reiterating the need to translate these materials to practical innovations.

In his remarks, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe , Dean, Faculty of Technology appreciated the timeliness of the consultation meeting, considering that the submarine cable was now operational and Makerere’s own brilliant students were rubbing shoulders and collaborating with their peers from MIT to come up with innovations like the vision200 car.

Prof. B. Nawangwe, Dean Faculty of Technology“Sharing resources is a commendable thing” said Prof. Nawangwe as he noted that with the use of projects like iLABS@MAK, students were able to share engineering applications with peers in the faculty and other universities using the LabVIEW software. He however noted that the missing link was the lack of close cooperation between several stakeholders i.e. the Ministries, Universities, public and private sectors. He then requested the National Instruments representative to publish innovations from Makerere University on their company website.

Prof. Michael Lejeune Deputy Executive Director, Uganda National Council for Higher Education kicked off his address with noting that the job of the Council was to ensure that the quality of education in Uganda is held high. The council had also observed a growing trend in the number of e-degrees and has had to put into place measures to evaluate their validity and merit.

Prof. LejeuneWith regard to Remote Engineering, Prof. Lejeune commended Makerere University for embracing innovation and keeping up with the technological trends in the industry. Considering that the East African Community integration process was becoming more of a reality daily, the future might see the formation of policies stating minimum requirements for graduation that will be effected across the region. In concluding his remarks, Prof. Lejuene noted that “Uganda needs us all to develop this country. Lets all do it with enthusiasm”

Dr. Saamanya P.S Min. of ICT The Guest of Honor and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT, Dr. Jimmy Saamanya thanked Makerere for organizing the consultative seminar aimed at forming a National Remote Engineering Consortium. As a background to his address he noted that previously as a result of higher bandwidth costs via satellite, the region may have lagged behind and missed out on advancements that have been made by other countries like India and the United States. However, with the advent of faster and higher capacity internet connections through the submarine cables, the Minister reckoned that we should be in a better position to compete favorably and produce more innovations.

With regard to legislation, the Ministry has pushed for the passing of three bills namely The Electronic Signature bill, The Electronic Transactions bill and the Computer Misuse Bill , all designed to regulate online activity in Uganda. With regard to partnering with Institutions of Higher Learning, he noted that that the Ministry of ICT was working with the College of Health Sciences on e-medicine collaborations linking Makerere to American Universities.

Presentations of the day saw Andrew Watchorn exhibit how National Instruments partnered with American Universities to produce spin-off companies like TORC (Virginia Tech) and EVIROFIT(Colorado State University) . In a practical demonstration of the power and ease of use of National Instruments products, Andrew built an “Illustration on Vibration Systems” using the LabVIEW software, a laptop and the National Instruments Educational Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Suite (NI ELVIS) module in under eight minutes.

Andrew then cited an example of how students, with the aid of their Professor led to the formation of Mashavu (Swahili for “Chubby cheeked”) . The project enables medical professionals around the world to connect with patients in the developing world using modern technology and communications infrastructure. Prof. Khanjan Mehta , Senior Research Associate, Electronic and Computer services, Penn State University and one of the students’ team faculty advisors noted that the project is a laptop-based system designed to use the existing mobile phone infrastructure.

iLABS team LeaderStudents on the iLABS@MAK project team led by Orishaba Doreen a Fourth year Electrical Engineering student went ahead to demonstrate the merits of the LabVIEW software. Tom Kigezi, Developer and Second year Electrical Engineering student then walked delegates through the structures and activities of the iLABS team before Nicholas Mpanga, Developer and Third year Telecommunications Engineering student made an online demonstration of how an iLAB is conducted.

In his closing remarks Prof. Lugujo expressed his disappointment as some of his brilliant students after graduation go on to seek better paying jobs at the expense of turning their project ideas into cutting-edge innovations. He however had hope that this would all change as “LabVIEW will provide a confluence of aspirations to bridge generations” and foster innovation. He urged all stakeholders present to continue collaborating so as to make the National Remote Engineering Consortium a reality. On behalf of the Acting Vice Chancellor and his Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance & Administration and the Dean, Faculty of Technology, he thanked everyone present for coming and encouraged them to continue with the good work, urging all students to keep up with the enthusiasm as they were the heirs of Science and Technology.

Click on links below to view respective powerpoint presentation

Minister of State for Higher Education's Full Speech  

Vice Chancellor's Full Speech  

Dean, Faculty of Technology's Full Speech  

Principal Investigator iLABS@MAK-presentation of the Position Paper

Presentation by Andrew Watchorn-National Instruments Senior Academic Field Engineer

Presentation by students on their ILABS experience  

 

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Rotary International President visits Mak

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The Chairperson of Council, Mrs Lorna Magara (L) presents a plaque to Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta in appreciation of his visit and invaluable service, 15th September 2021, CTF1, Makerere University.

By Hasifa Kabejja

Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta has appreciated Makerere University for supporting and carrying forward the newly introduced programme aimed at advancing peace on the African Continent. Launched in January 2020, the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University runs a postgraduate diploma programme in Peace-building and Conflict Transformation. The hands-on program entails coursework that addresses topics including human rights, governance, and the role of the media in conflict. Other studies focus on refugees and migration, as well as resource and identity-based conflicts.

At a high level meeting held with the University leadership on 15th September 2021 at CTF1, President Shekhar Mehta said Rotary International was proud to be partnering with Makerere to promote peace on the African Continent. “The mere absence of war does not translate into total peace. Besides war, there are many other factors undermining peaceful co-existence. It is our duty to address these issues so as to create harmony in our communities. Through the Rotary Peace Centres across the globe, we are undertaking a number of initiatives aimed at promoting peace. Since 2002, the Rotary Peace Centres have trained more than 1,300 fellows who are working to advance peace in more than 115 countries. We are happy to work with Makerere University to foster peace and development on the African Continent,” he noted.   President Shekhar Mehta, who was on a three-day tour of Rotary projects in Uganda, was visiting Makerere for the first time since the University won the bid to host the International Rotary Peace Centre, the first of its kind on the African Continent.

President Shekhar Mehta, who was in company of past and current Governors of Districts 9213 and 9214, said peace was a necessary catalyst for the progress of humanity and general development of nation states across the globe. Elected for the 2021-22 term, President Shekhar Mehta, through his year theme Serve to Change Lives, asks Rotarians to participate in service projects where they can make a difference in their communities and the people who live in them. Since he joined Rotary in 1984 as a member of the Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, West Bengal, India, President Shekhar Mehta has led many major service initiatives in India and South Asia, including among others, constructing 500 homes for Tsunami survivors at Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and starting the Shelter Kit programme in India which has served about 20 disasters and benefited about 75,000 disaster victims. 

Delivering her remarks, the Chairperson Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara appreciated Rotary International for entrusting Makerere University with the mandate to host the first rotary peace centre on the African Continent. “Choosing to house the Centre at Makerere University shows Rotary International’s trust and confidence in Makerere and her vision for building for the future. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of Rotary International’s agenda. We also sincerely appreciate Rotarians all over the world who have committed funds to support the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University,” she noted. Similarly, she appreciated The Rotary Foundation (TRF) of Canada for setting up an endowment fund for the Peace Centre. “This will go a long way in ensuring the sustainability of the Peace Centre at Makerere University. The fund will help in the Capstone week where Fellows will present their social initiatives. These initiatives will showcase how the Rotary Peace Centre contributes to positive peace initiatives all over the world.”

In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe informed the President that the decision to establish the first Rotary Peace Centre in Africa at Makerere University was welcomed with ‘excitement and gratefulness’. “We consider this to be a vote of confidence in our efforts in the peace and conflict resolution agenda. We extend our appreciation to Rotarians in Uganda and beyond for selflessly supporting this noble cause.” The Vice Chancellor appreciated the leadership of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere, and the Director of the Centre, Dr Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala for their tireless efforts in ensuring the centre achieves the intended objective.

By the end of this year, the Centre will have hosted two cohorts of peace fellows. The first cohort was at Makerere University between February and May, 2021. Currently, these Peace fellows are carrying out their peace initiatives in their communities. The second cohort will report on September 27, 2021. In both cohorts, Peace Fellows were chosen from 20 countries and by the end of the year, the Centre will have had a total of 36 Fellows.

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Intentionality Key to Nurturing More Women Leaders

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The "Enhancing Women’s Participation and Visibility in Leadership and Decision-Making Organs of Public Universities in Uganda through Action Research" Phase One Study dissemination poster for the event held on 14th September 2021, CTF1, Makerere University and Online.

The Gender Mainstreaming Directorate (GMD), Makerere University on 14th September 2021 presented findings from phase one of the study on Enhancing Women’s Participation and Visibility in Leadership and Decision-Making Organs of Public Universities in Uganda through Action Research. The study team led by the Director GMD and Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine also consists of Assoc. Prof. Consolata Kabonesa, Dr. Anna Ninsiima, Ms. Frances Nyachwo, Ms. Susan Mbabazi and Mr. Eric Tumwesigye.  

The team is also made of coordinators from participating Universities such as Busitema University-Ms. Elizabeth Birabwa, Kabale University-Sr. Dr. Eva Tumusiime, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST)-Dr. Specioza Twinamasiko, Muni University-Ms. Amandru Stella Wawa, and Gulu Univeristy-Sr. Rosalba Aciro.

Funded by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), the study was inspired by the fact that women are persistently few in numbers as staff, more so in leadership and decision-making organs of Ugandan Public Universities. “This is despite all the various efforts at national and international levels; the numbers are not growing as fast as needed to meet development goals of the country” explained Dr. Euzobia.

Based on this background, the study team therefore sought to conduct a situational analysis of the gender terrain of the six public universities to obtain baseline information encompassing the composition of governance and leadership organs and senior staff by sex, as well as a needs assessment and profiles of potential mentors and mentees.

Furthermore, the team sought to explore the capacity to conduct gender-responsive research as well as the role of male staff engagement in gender equity interventions within the universities as the drivers of development.

Dr. Mugisha-Baine shared that results of the baseline would then be used to design participatory training manuals or guides on gender and leadership. The manuals would cover; Institutionalized mentorship, How to conduct gender-responsive research, gender and equity budgeting, among others.

The Director GMD, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine
The Director GMD, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine

 “Within these manuals, we shall have a male staff engagement strategy in gender equity interventions in universities” she explained.

The development of the aforementioned materials would then be followed by their adoption and use to build capacity for women not only in leadership of participating and other public university but also beyond. “We shall periodically evaluate whether the capacity we have built has influenced women’s participation in leadership and decision-making organs of the university” supplemented the PI.

The capacity building trainings for women, it is envisaged, will lay the foundation for the formation of a functional Uganda University Women’s Think Tank, starting with the six participating universities. Dr. Mugisha Baine added that through this Think Tank, a monitoring and tracking system for gender representation in recruitment, promotion, retention/turnover and leadership of public universities shall be established and maintained.  

At the conclusion of phase one, the study team had drafted participatory training manuals in gender and leadership with content on; gender specific critical analysis of the leadership spectrum of public universities, positioning of individual women within the institutional framework and strategies for their advancement, gender equity advocacy in the university setting, institutional mentorship, building capacity in conducting gender-responsive research, among others.

“This content will be validated by the participating universities before the actual research training is conducted” added the PI.

On behalf of the research team, Dr. Mugisha Baine thanked the Government of Uganda for providing the resources that facilitated phase one of the study and prayed that the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) would support the next phase of capacity building.

Speaking on behalf of the Mak-RIF GMC Chairperson, Prof. William Bazeyo, Dr. Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala thanked and congratulated the team led by the Director GMD upon the milestones registered in the critical research.

“We are very proud of that work that is being done by all researchers in Mak-RIF and we would like to most sincerely thank Management for all the support throughout this process” she remarked.

Dr. Nkabala encouraged the research team to continue disseminating and using the findings for the furtherance of gender mainstreaming, particularly through the aspect of male staff engagement in gender equity interventions.  

The Executive Director, NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol. Courtesy Photo.
The Executive Director, NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol. Courtesy Photo.

Prior to delivering the keynote address of the day, the Executive Director National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) Prof. Mary Okwakol thanked the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for inviting her to the important forum, noting that women’s participation in decision making and governance is a priority area of the Uganda Gender Policy 2007.  

She commended Makerere University for being at the forefront of gender mainstreaming in Uganda, noting that this prominence was one of the reasons why the Gender in Education Policy 2007 provides for replicating the institution’s strategy in all other Higher Education Institutions.   

Prof. Okwakol whose keynote address was punctuated incisive personal examples reaffirmed the statistics that women are generally not visible in leadership of Universities. That notwithstanding, in instances where they rise to leadership and decision-making positions, they are regularly subject to roles traditionally deemed as women’s inconsiderate of their managerial seniority and experience.

She nevertheless rallied the women to play their respective roles in enhancing participation and visibility at a personal level. The following were some of the strategies she proposed; work hard to acquire academic credentials so as to compete favourably with men, acquire necessary administrative training and experience, network among women, join professional networks as well as do research and publish.  

On joining professional networks, she shared her personal experience as a young zoologist who joined UNESCO’s Tropical Biology and Fertility Programme. “Within a short time I was appointed Coordinator for Africa and after two years, I was elected as a Member of the International Board of Management. After serving for two years, I became Vice Chairperson of that Board and finally I became Chairperson of that International Board.”

At the institutional level, Prof. Okwakol appealed to the Chairperson Council and Vice Chancellor to proactively recruit women who meet the requirements for leadership positions even if it means actively seeking out the reluctant ones. In this regard, she shared that it would be useful for the university to develop a database of women and their qualifications to ease this process.

She shared that NCHE has in recognition of female underrepresentation at every level in Higher Education approved the establishment of a Gender and Equity Unit with the aim of promoting inclusive gender participation in the sub-sector.

“This unit has been placed under the Directorate of Quality Assurance and Accreditation which implies that as we look out for and regulate quality, gender will be a very important aspect of that regulation” she reassured.

Prof. Okwakol concluded by urging participants to read the; Third National Development Plan (NDPIII), Uganda Vision 2040, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) noting that there is no way all three can be achieved while women are left behind because they each make a case for inclusion of the female gender.  

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe follows proceedings during the dissemination.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe follows proceedings during the dissemination.

“What we are addressing here are historical injustices” said Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe as he commenced his remarks, “And in the case of Makerere University, it is well known that the institution started as a male-only institution and we all know the original motto was ‘Let us be men’” he added.

Citing examples from history such as; Marie Curie – one of the smartest physicists, Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and Cleopatra – prominent Pharaohs of Egypt, George Eliot, Rosa Luxemburg and Hypatia – all great philosophers as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel – first female Chancellor of Germany, the Vice Chancellor said there is no plausible argument that there are things women cannot do as well as their male counterparts.

He said it was against this knowledge and in a bid to correct historical injustices that Makerere University pioneered initiatives such as putting in place affirmative action for girls, establishing a Gender Mainstreaming Directorate as well as a School of Women and Gender Studies. The Vice Chancellor nevertheless stressed the need to go beyond pioneering to protecting these gains through legislation. “Historically we have seen that discrimination can only be addressed by laws and policies.”

Prof. Nawangwe thanked the Government for providing funds to support Mak-RIF as well as the Funds GMC and Secretariat for ensuring that these funds are put to good use. He equally thanked the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara for her not only her support but also sparing time to attend a good number of the research dissemination events.

A screenshot of the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara delivering the concluding remarks.
A screenshot of the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara delivering the concluding remarks.

Delivering the concluding remarks, Mrs. Magara acknowledged that the study was timely and relevant the contemporary University, as one of the critical drivers of the national and international development agenda. She therefore reechoed the Vice Chancellor’s thanks to the Government of Uganda for generously supporting the University’s research through Mak-RIF.

Turning to the keynote speaker she said, “I thank Prof. Okwakol for ardently discussing the critical issues affecting the female gender, the strategies to overcome the challenges, including sharing her inspiring personal experiences.”

Mrs. Magara equally thanked Prof. Okwakol for her very instructional analysis, providing mentorship guidance with the resultant impact of enhancing the female gender in decision-making positions. In the same breath she congratulated the PI and her team upon successfully concluding phase one of the project.

“Phase one has generated insights in understanding the status of women in leadership in public universities, the legal and policy framework and its implications on women’s visibility, the institutional mentoring systems and the gaps therein” she observed.

The Chairperson of Council acknowledged that the challenge of underrepresentation of women in leadership roles cannot be resolved at an individual level. She therefore advocated for broad based strategies that can address deep-seated structural and cultural biases facing women. “These include developing mentorship networks, enacting laws and policies that address the imbalances and providing training programmes to address the leadership gaps.”

She therefore pledged the University Council’s unwavering support to the Gender Mainstreaming Programme by ensuring an enabling policy environment that facilitates gender-responsive teaching, learning, research innovation and community service.   

The research dissemination was moderated by the Principal Public Relations Officer (PRO), Ms. Ritah Namisango and the Director Communications, Learning and Knowledge Management, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) and PRO Mak-RIF, Ms. Harriet Adong.

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Section Editors & Associate Editors Wanted-CABI Agriculture & Biosciences Journal

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The CABI Agriculture and Biosciences Journal (CABI A&B) is still in search of both Associate Editors to join the CABI A&B Editorial Board, as well as a Regional Editor-in-Chief to lead for Africa in addition to serving as a Section Editor in the area of either Environmental and SOIL SCIENCE, AGROECOLOGY, OR AQUACULTURE AND FISHERIES. Ideally CABI wants Section Editors (SE) who are prominent members of their research communities, with high-level established positions at a research institution, with a strong, current record of international collaborations and publication, with an H-index of at least 25.  For Associate Editors (AE) we hope for researchers who have with established positions at a research institution (e.g., not post-docs or Ph.D. candidates), with a strong growing record of international collaborations and publication (e.g., around 8 publications in the past two years), and have an H-index of at least 15.

Very importantly, CABI hopes for SEs and AEs who are good communicators and are passionate about serving and building the journal to be an outlet for both large and small steps of sound science that will improve the lives and livelihoods of people worldwide.

Please see Downloads for the CABI EDITORIAL DIRECTORY

Interested applicants should email PHILIPPA J. BENSON, PH.D. MANAGING EDITOR | _CABI A&B | P.BENSON[at]CABI.ORG

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