African Studies Center Welcomes the 2015-16 UMAPS Scholars

The 2015-16 U-M African Presidential Scholars with ASC staff. Photo by Calvin Mitchell.

Ann Arbor, MI—The African Studies Center (ASC), a member of the International Institute at the University of Michigan, is pleased to welcome the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars (UMAPS) for 2015-16.

This year’s cohort represents a broad range of academic interests and disciplines, including medicine, sociology, history, biotechnology, psychology, literature, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, population studies, and law. Each scholar will be in residency for a four- to six-month period and will work closely with U-M faculty while pursuing individual writing and research projects.

UMAPS is designed to enhance collaboration between early-career faculty from Africa with students and faculty at the University of Michigan. The program supports faculty development and capacity building at African universities. African scholars are brought to campus for four to six months and given access to library and research materials that can assist them with research projects, academic degrees, publications, grant proposals, or other relevant activity. While in residency, the scholars are paired with a U-M faculty member for mentorship or collaboration on projects that will help advance their careers. These activities allow the university to build and strengthen lasting scholarly relationships with visiting scholars and their home institutions. Though previously only open to faculty in Ghana, South Africa, Liberia, and Uganda, the UMAPS program this year allowed U-M faculty to nominate scholars from any country in Africa. Hence this is the most geographically diverse cohort to date with scholars also representing universities in Ethiopia, Cameroon, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The 17 scholars and their research projects are:

Sisay Addisu, medicine, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia: “The Characterization of Subtypes and Gene Variations among Female Breast Cancer Cases in Ethiopia.” He will work with Dr. Sofia Merajver, professor of internal medicine and epidemiology.

Semeneh Ayalew, Ethiopian studies, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia: “Urban Social Change and Revolution.” His mentor is Mike McGovern, associate professor of anthropology.

Vangile Bingma, sociology, University of Pretoria, South Africa: “Exploring the Relationships between Parents, Learners, and a Township Secondary School in the Tshwane South District in South Africa.”  Her mentor is Barbara Anderson, Ronald A. Freedman Collegiate Professor of Sociology and Population Studies.

Adey Desta, biotechnology, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia: “Assessment of Pathogenic Microorganisms that Proliferate during the Production of a Urine Derived Fertilizer: Struvite.” Her mentors are Nancy Love, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Krista Wigginton, Borchardt and Glysson Water Treatment Faculty Scholar in civil and environmental engineering.

Akye Essuman, medicine, University of Ghana, Ghana: “Establishing a Geriatric Fellowship Program in Ghana.” He will work with Dr. Philip Zazove, professor of family medicine, and Dr. Katy Gold, assistant professor of family medicine and obstetrics & gynecology.

Yonatan Fessha, law, University of the Western Cape, South Africa: “Institutional Design of States on the African Continent and How it Can be Used to Respond to the Challenges of Minorities within Minorities.” His mentor is Daniel Halberstam, Eric Stein Collegiate Professor of Law and director of the European Legal Studies Program.

Joy Gumikiriza, psychology, Makerere University, Uganda: “Behavioral Self-Control Interventions to Reduce Alcohol Abuse among HIV Positive Youths in Uganda.” Her mentor is Kristen Barry, research professor emeritus of psychiatry.

Endale Hadgu, medicine, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia: “Molecular and Genetic Characterization of Triple Negative Breast Cancer among Ethiopian Women.” He will work with Dr. Sofia Merajver, professor of internal medicine and epidemiology.

Elisabeth Mimiafou, English, University of Buea, Cameroon: “Ecofeminism and Black Women’s Writings.” Her mentors are Frieda Ekotto, professor of Afroamerican and African studies and comparative literature, and Petra Kuppers, professor of English.

Emmanuel Miyingo, engineering, Makerere University, Uganda: “Design and Development of Hybrid Micro Grid Systems Using Biogas and Solar Photovoltaic Electric Systems for Peri-urban and Rural Areas.” He will work with Roy Clarke, Marcellus L. Wiedenbeck Collegiate Professor of Physics.

Elizabeth Nansubuga, population studies, Makerere University, Uganda: “Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Outcomes of Maternal Mortality in Uganda.” She will work with Cheryl Moyer, assistant professor of learning health sciences and obstetrics & gynecology.

Christian Obirikorang, medical sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana: “Genetic Markers Associated with Dyslipidemia in HIV-Infected Individuals Who Are in Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Treatment (HAART).” He will work with David Burke, professor of human genetics.

Lawrence Ocen, literature, Lira University College, Uganda. “Reading Monuments: Politics and Poetics of Memory in Postwar Northern Uganda.“ He will work with Derek Peterson, professor of history and Afroamerican and African studies.

Natasha Ross, chemistry, University of the Western Cape, South Africa: “Carbon Supported Functional Nanoparticles for Catalysis, Electrocatalysis, and Energy Storage Applications.” Her mentor will be Mark Barteau, DTE Energy Professor of Advanced Energy Research, professor of chemical engineering, and director of the U-M Energy Institute.

Jacques Tagoudjeu, mathematics, University of Yaoundé, Cameroon: “Numerically Asymptotic Limits of Kinetic Models for Cell Migration Due to Chemotaxis.” He will work with Daniel Burns, professor of mathematics, and Nkem Khumbah, lecturer in mathematics.

Leon Tsambu-Bulu, sociology, University of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo: “Power and Gender Relationships on the Stage of Kinshasa Popular Music.” He will work with Nancy Hunt, professor of history and obstetrics & gynecology.

John Ulumara, history, University of Dodoma, Tanzania: “Assessment of the Contribution of Wild Products to Rural Livelihoods in Pastoral Communities.“ He will work with Kelly Askew, professor of anthropology and Afroamerican and African studies, and director of the African Studies Center.

To learn more about the scholars and the UMAPS program, please see the website:


Media Contact:  Raquel Buckley/

About the African Studies Center:
The African Studies Center serves as a conduit through which the many Africa initiatives across the university, from the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, to medicine and engineering, may be furthered to the mutual benefit of the university and its African partners. ASC is a member of the International Institute.

About the International Institute:
The International Institute brings together distinguished and diverse faculty and scholars with deep area studies and international expertise to enrich the university’s intellectual environment and to provide the U-M community with the knowledge, tools, and experience to become informed and active global citizens. We advance this mission through education, engagement, and innovation.