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Trustees Commended as MURBS Registers 17% Record Return on Investment

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Countless commendations from Management, Scheme Members and the Regulator – Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA) representatives poured in as the Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme (MURBS) gave details of the 17% rate of return on members’ opening balances as at 1st July 2017. This was at the 8th MURBS Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Wednesday, 24th October 2018 in the Main Hall.

“On behalf of the University Management and the Director Human Resources, I would like to appreciate the MURBS Board of Trustees (BoT) for a job well done. Last week, MURBS organised a Joint Press Conference with the University Leadership at which the Chairperson Council-Eng. Dr. Charles Wana-Etyem praised the Board of Trustees upon the stewardship that led to the declaration of 17% return on investment,” remarked Mrs. Dorothy Senoga-Zake.

Mrs. Senoga-Zake further remarked that the Human Resources Directorate was in constant receipt of positive reports from retirees whose benefits were processed on time. “I also thank MURBS for promptly updating member statements and as a member, I am constantly aware of the monies deposited on my account,” she added.

L-R: Mr. Walter Yorac Nono and Mrs. Dorothy Senoga-Zake (Rear) with Mr. Robert Katuntu and Mr. Wilson Kayindi (Front) at the 8th MURBS AGM

She however expressed surprise that only six hundred out of the approximately four thousand scheme members are registered on the online portal according to the MURBS Annual Report. She therefore urged the unregistered members to expressly approach the Scheme Office and take advantage of this service so as to receive notifications of deposits and quickly follow up on any unremitted funds.   

Speaking on behalf of the Regulator – URBRA, Ms. Lisa Betty Oyella commended the MURBS Board of Trustees for once again putting up a tremendous performance leading to the declaration of a 17% sector high return. She also lauded MURBS’ commitment to implementing all URBRA recommendations and effecting policies that improve the Scheme’s efficiency.
 
“MURBS is a very cooperative team and we commend them for always sparing time to participate in URBRA activities. We held a Trustee Training earlier today, where we needed Trustee from an exemplary scheme in the sector to speak to participants and were happy when Dr. John Kitayimbwa agreed to make a presentation despite the short notice. Please note that his willingness to join us was in the midst of preparing for this AGM,” lauded Ms. Oyella.

She also thanked the scheme members for attending the 8th AGM, noting that the annual gatherings present a platform where the regulator can interact with them and take note of matters arising. These notes, she said, can then be used to make recommendations to the BoT to help improve scheme operations.

L-R: Ms. Lisa Betty Oyella, Mr. Davis Mbuga, Ms. Janet Iremera (Rear) and MURBS' Ms. Susan Khaitsa listen to proceedings at the 8th AGM, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

Upon registering for 8th AGM, members were handed a copy of the MURBS Annual Report for the year ended 30th June 2018. Prominently displayed on the cover page is a photograph of a beaming retiree, former Dean, and prolific publisher of the School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences (CHS), Prof. David Musoke Serwadda.

“I was completely stunned that I received my retirement benefits within two weeks of submitting my application. I immediately invested my money and I now earn a monthly income from it – EXCELLENT SERVICE!” reads a caption in the Annual Report attributed to Prof. Serwadda.

The Chairperson MURBS Board of Trustees, Mr. Wilber Grace Naigambi in his remarks shared that the scheme had paid out benefits amounting to UGX3.79billion to exiting members during the financial year ended 30th June 2018, compared to UGX3.22billion the previous year.

“Our target of paying out benefits to members under normal retirement is thirteen working days upon receipt of the application form and complete paperwork. I am glad to report that during the financial year 2017/2018, we paid out benefits on average within six days.

Cover Page of the MURBS Annual Report for the year ended 30th June 2018 with happy retiree Prof. David Musoke Serwadda

"I would also like to report that in the course of the last financial year, we paid out death benefits amounting to UGX132million in respect of ten members” said the Chairperson.

Mr. Naigambi also informed the AGM that MURBS had launched the Departmental Ambassadors Programme, which was another first of clear succession planning in Uganda’s Retirement Benefits sector. Officially launched on 27th February 2018, the Ambassadors Programme membership quickly grew to forty two as at 30th June 2018. Ambassadors have since appointment undergone training in the basics of managing retirement benefits schemes and been closely exposed to MURBS operations, through participation in Trustee meetings and Board activities.

“As part of strategies to secure the retirement of our members, MURBS has started awareness programmes to popularise the annuity payment option as a viable alternative to the current lump sum payment. We believe that the annuity option is a better way of ensuring that our members have a regular income after retiring from service, and our Departmental Ambassadors have been trained on the same” added the Chairperson.

In accordance with the Board Charter; the performance of the MURBS BoT was evaluated for the period 1st July 2017 to 30th June 2018 by an independent consultant; J. Samuel Richards and Associates Certified Public Accountants. Reading the results of the evaluation on behalf of the consultant, Mr. Robert Katuntu, CPA, reported that the BoT demonstrates a high degree of competence, due skill and care in managing MURBS.

The Chairperson, MURBS Board of Trustees-Mr. Wilber Grace Naigambi delivers his remarks at the 8th AGM

“MURBS operations are to a great extent compliant with applicable laws and regulations, as well as the Scheme’s governance policies and procedures and, majority of the Scheme’s members are satisfied with the Board’s performance” read Mr. Katuntu from part of the evaluation.

The Scheme’s Independent Auditors; KPMG Certified Public Accountants, also gave MURBS a clean bill of health. “In our opinion, the financial statements give a true and fair view of the financial position of Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme as at 30th June 2018, and of its financial performance and its cash flows for the year then ended in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standars, the financial provisions of the Scheme Trust Deed and Rules and Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Act, 2011” read Mr. Wilson Kayindi on behalf of KPMG.

Prior to discussion of the Scheme’s financial reports, the 8th AGM’s emcees; MURBS’ Principal Pension Officer-Ms. Susan Khaitsa and Mr. David Ddumba Walakira recognised the presence of the Director Internal Audit-Mr. Walter Yorac Nono, Deputy University Secretary-Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, Chairperson Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA)-Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, Chairperson Makerere University Administrative Staff Association (MASA)-Mr. Vincent Abigaba and University Imaam- Hajji Sam Ahmad Ssentongo. Also recognised were URBRA Officials Mr. Davis Mbuga and Ms. Janet Iremera.

Dr. Kitayimbwa kicked off his moderation of the discussion by recognising the presence of the Bank of Uganda’s Mr. Allan Betabe, CFA, who guides the MURBS BoT on Investments. Responding to one of the questions from the audience on the fate of some members’ unremitted funds in terms of benefiting from the 17% record return, he explained that investments made by MURBS are only on the basis of funds received, as per URBRA regulations.

Representatives from MURBS' service providers, Stanbic Bank Uganda, Sanlam Investments East Africa, GenAfrica Asset Managers Limited and Octagon Uganda Limited (Front) and part of the audience (Background) at the 8th AGM, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

“As mentioned by the Chairperson in his remarks, Court awarded the Scheme UGX23billion as unremitted In-House funds from the University in October 2017, together with an interest of 7% per annum effective 1st April 2009. We are hopeful that we shall secure these monies on behalf of our affected members and proceed to invest them,” explained Dr. Kitayimbwa.

Still on investments, another member questioned why a big percentage of the Scheme’s investments at 65% and 7.1% are allocated to Treasury bonds and Treasury bills respectively, and yet there were other investment vehicles into which funds could be diversified so as to earn higher returns for members. In his response, the Secretary, BoT appreciated the suggestion but reiterated that the spirit of the URBRA Act is to ensure that all Schemes in the sector invest members’ benefits safely.

“The UBRA Act limits asset categories by which schemes can invest funds. Additionally, all fund managers have to be licensed by URBRA. So whereas there are so many riskier but higher returning investment vehicles, MURBS cannot employ their services unless they are recognised as fund managers by the sector regulator URBRA” added the Secretary BoT.

The biggest commendation of the day to MURBS came from the eighty two year old former Professor of Biochemistry at Makerere University, Prof. Edward Kakonge. Speaking softly but authoritatively, Prof. Kakonge sincerely thanked the Board of Trustees for all the great work done in profitably investing members’ benefits, as well as the plans to recover all unremitted funds.

MURBS and Council Member, Assoc. Prof. Wilson Tumps Ireeta (with microphone) poses a question during the session to discuss financial reports at the 8th AGM

“I was so happy to see my name in the New Vision (published 19th October 2018) among those whose benefits were ready for collection from MURBS,” added Prof. Kakonge.

The Chairperson MURBS BoT thanked all scheme members for the huge turn up at the 8th AGM, and prayed for an even bigger audience at the 9th AGM. He thanked the University Management, URBRA representatives and all service providers for attending the meeting and contributing to the record 17% return.
 
The total MURBS fund value grew by 36% (UGX37billion), climbing from UGX104.5billion as at 30th June 2017 to UGX142billion as at 30th June 2018, representing the biggest fund growth over the last five years. The growth was mainly driven by; recovery in performance of the equity market, and increase in members’ salaries which in turn increased contributions to the scheme. Payment by the University of UGX10billion owed to the scheme and the vigilance of trustees in pursing an aggressive investment strategy were additional contributors to the growth.

In his closing prayer, University Imam Hajji Ssentongo thanked the Almighty God for according us a bounty of peace and tranquillity during the course of the 8th AGM. He also prayed for divine enablement that the leaders and members of MURBS may be able to achieve the vision, mission and values of the Scheme.

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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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