Many opportunities open to the youth – Kahaka
The first Namibian woman to receive the UNESCO – L’Oreal International Fellowship for Young Women in Life Sciences Award, Dr Gladys Kahaka has encouraged young Namibians who want to venture into science to grab the opportunities made available by government.
Kahaka, a lecturer from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Namibia, accepted the prestigious award at a hand over ceremony which took place at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris late last week.
In an interview with the Economist, Kahaka said that the Namibian Government has made opportunities available for young people who want to go into science by giving scholarships and bursaries as well as sending them outside the country.
“Namibia has the resources and it is up to us to take that and use it wisely, so if possible we should take the opportunity and develop ourselves, get all the international skills that we need and come use it in Namibia,” she said.
Dr Kahaka said winning the award is not only a turning point in her research but also an opportunity for her to network with fellow scientists.
“Winning this means a lot to me, I just finished my PhD in 2010, so this came as an opportunity for me to be able to continue with my research and also an opportunity to network with fellow scientists, also an opportunity for me to able to contribute to science in general,” she said.
The title of her post-doctoral work is: The transcriptome quantification of Namibian endangered species using Affymetrix human and Arabidopsis ATH1 GeneChips.” Kahaka will be conducting her research at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.
The aim of the fellowship is to improve the position of women in science by recognising outstanding female researchers who have contributed to scientific progress. It is designed to identify and reward fifteen deserving, committed and talented young women scientists, from all over the world, active in the life sciences.
A maximum of three young female scientists from each of the five geographical regions of the world are awarded the fellowships. The candidates must not be more than 35 years old, and must already be engaged in pursuing research at doctoral or post-doctoral level in fields including, Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Agriculture, Medicine, Pharmacy and Physiology.
The 2012 recipients from the sub-Saharan Africa Region are from Kenya, Namibia and South Africa. The value of the award is US$100,000 for each fellow.