The Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer (JWO) Research Grant has announced that it is receiving applications for its 2024 edition. Applications are currently open and will close on 3rd May, 2024.

The winner of this year’s JWO grant will be awarded Ksh. 20.25 million (USD 150,000). The grant will support a research program of up to three years.

To apply for the Grant, the lead applicant should be an early-career African scientist with strong links to a credible African institution and proposing to conduct research in Africa. This year, the JWO Research Grant encourages trans-disciplinary research applications that demonstrate a strong link to biodiversity and conservation.

Applicants must also hold a PhD Degree and should have no more than seven years of work and/or research experience post-degree, excluding career breaks, including family-related breaks. The institution must also have a proven ability to manage funding and subscribes to good financial grant practices. The institutional affiliation may be academic, research, government, NGO, or for-profit organization.

The JWO Grant was established in 2019 to honour the legacy of the Late Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer, a pioneer in African education and environmental science. Since its inception, the Grant has been instrumental in advancing vital research initiatives across Africa. This year, the Grant aims to attract a greater number of early-career scientists to apply, offering them the opportunity to potentially receive a transformative award.

Over the past five years, early-career scholars and scientists specialising in various environmental disciplines have applied for the grant. The grant also contributes African voices to global conversations on the environment and sustainability.

Last year, Dr. Lovanomenjanahary Marline, a renowned bryologist from Madagascar, exemplified the grant’s impact by securing Ksh. 20.25 million (USD 150,000) for her innovative research. Dr. Marline’s study on bryophytes and lichen explores their potential in monitoring critical environmental and human health risks such as biological diversity loss, climate change, and air pollution.

Dr. Bernard Coetzee, Dr. Gideon Idowu and Dr. Elizabeth le Roux were honoured as recipients of the JWO Research Grant in 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively. Dr. Le Roux’s research is focused on aligning ecological processes with local livelihoods amidst the growing isolation of African protected areas. With the support of the grant, Dr. Le Roux successfully measured the connectedness achieved by various rangeland management techniques.

Dr. Gideon Idowu from Nigeria, winner of the grant in 2021, emphasized the importance of studying chemical pollutants and microplastics in Africa’s freshwater systems. His innovative study extended beyond the well-explored ocean context, examining the short- and long-term effects on human health.

Dr. Bernard Coetzee’s research aimed to understand the impact of artificial light consumption on Africa and its potential role in spreading vector-borne illnesses such as dengue fever, the Zika virus, and malaria. The JWO Research Grant helped him facilitate investigations into this crucial yet understudied subject, potentially saving numerous lives.