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UMD to Train and Mentor Ph.D. Students from Select African Universities

Visiting Scholars will conduct research in climate change, plant breeding, renewable energy, and many other fields.

By Everlyn Nguku & Graham Binder

The University of Maryland has joined the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif) as an International Partner Institution (IPI), where it will offer internship opportunities for visiting doctoral students to train, conduct research, and build capacity to innovate when they return to Africa. Rsif scholars attending UMD will study alongside world-class experts in the fields of food security, energy, climate change, data science, and materials engineering.

UMD joins the other 28 Rsif IPIs and widens opportunities for Rsif scholar-sandwich placements in an advanced research facility. Rsif IPIs are world class universities, research institutes/centers or companies (public or private) with advanced research and training facilities willing to offer research internship opportunities to Rsif PhD scholars registered at the Africa Host Universities. See other Rsif IPIs here.

Through placement in international training programs, Rsif scholars gain exposure to diverse research environments, collaborate with experts from different cultures, access specialized resources, and foster personal and professional growth. The importance of this “sandwich” training option lies in its ability to cultivate a global perspective, allowing the scholars to thrive in a competitive academic landscape. Visiting scholars would be J-1 visa holders, non-degree at UMD, and must complete one year of a PhD program at their home university before spending up to one year at UMD under the mentorship of faculty.

“By hosting PhD scholars from select African universities, UMD will strengthen its commitment to furthering research on the global grand challenges facing humanity, including climate change, natural resource preservation, food security, and energy,” said Craig Beyrouty, dean and director of UMD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Our hope is that this partnership will help build on the success of African scientists and innovators in the applied sciences, engineering and technology.”

Scholars benefit from advanced facilities, cutting-edge equipment, and unique resources available at partner universities, enriching their research projects. As they navigate international academic systems, the scholars develop adaptability, resilience, and a global outlook, positioning them as exceptional researchers with international recognition and credibility.

Rsif, launched in 2015, is the flagship program of the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering, and Technology (PASET). PASET is an African-led initiative aimed at fostering competencies and skills to support the growth of key economic sectors and drive Africa’s socio-economic transformation. Rsif focuses on building high-quality training, research, and innovation environments, as well as developing institutional capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa to benefit the entire region. The program supports PhD students, post-doctoral scientists, and universities in SSA, with the goal of advancing research and innovation in priority economic sectors.

The program is currently funded by African governments, the World Bank, the Government of Korea, and the European Union through the ACP Innovation Fund. It is managed by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Nairobi, Kenya, serving as the Rsif Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU). With the aim of establishing the first Africa-led Pan-African science fund, Rsif invites additional funders and partners to join this important initiative.


This article was initially published on the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources website.

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