The African Studies Center (ASC) at the University of Michigan invites the campus community to a Fall Reception on September 28th from 4-6 pm in the Garden at the Michigan League to kick off its 10th anniversary year and welcome the 2017-2018 cohort of University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars (UMAPS).

These 17 faculty members representing universities in Ghana, South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Liberia, Nigeria, and Zambia will be in residence in Ann Arbor from late August 2017 through February 2018.

The UMAPS program, launched in the winter of 2009 with support from the U-M President’s office, to date has welcomed 135 early career faculty from ten different African countries. Scholars are paired with a U-M faculty member for mentorship or collaboration on projects that will help advance their careers through a four to six months residency. “UMAPS was conceived as an intervention to provide respite and academic resources to talented early-career faculty and to enhance research environments in African universities, as well as to internationalize U-M through new collaborations and partnerships with African scholars,“ explains Kelly Askew, director of the African Studies Center and professor of anthropology, and Afroamerican and African studies.

The UMAPS program is supported with funding from the President's and Provost's Offices, the South African Initiatives Office in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS), and the Center for International Reproductive Health Training (CIRHT). For the third consecutive year, a portion of the funding from the president and provost is allocated to supporting Ethiopian faculty with the hope of strengthening ties with institutions in Ethiopia.

The UMAPS program encourages each scholar to immerse her/himself in university life as they are provided with full access to campus research materials and facilities, attend seminars and classes, and present papers in conferences and workshops to fully engage with U-M faculty and students. These activities promote lasting scholarly relationships to support ongoing faculty development in Africa and capacity building for their home institutions.

The 2017-2018 University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars are:

Senyo Adzei, University of Cape Coast, Ghana, “Creative Processes in Shrine Music of the Awudome People of Ghana – An Ethnomusicological Inquiry.” He will be working with Naomi Andre, associate professor of women’s studies, Afroamerican and African studies, and at the Residential College.

Debela Gemeda Bedane St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College, Ethiopia, “Pharmacogenetic Predictors of Antidepressant Drug Response.” His mentor is Professor Srijan Sen, Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Professor of Depression and Neurosciences, associate professor of psychiatry, and research associate professor in Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute.

Odur Benard, Makerere University, Uganda, “A Retrospective Analysis of Progression in Neonatal and Infant Mortality Drivers in Uganda (1995-2016).” His mentor is Brisa Sanchez, associate professor of biostatistics.

Kalilu Donzo, University of Liberia, Liberia, “Advanced Training in Molecular Biology Techniques: Introducing research-based techniques at the University of Liberia.” His mentor is Clay Brown, scientific director of High Throughput Protein Lab and associate research scientist.

Veronica Dzomeku, KNUST, Ghana, “Exploration of Expectations and Experiences of Mothers toward Childbirth Care.” She will be working with Jodi Lori, associate dean for global affairs and community engagement, and professor of nursing.

Thelma Fennie, University of the Western Cape, South Africa, “Exploring Psychological Effects of Adolescent Girls’ Experiences of Menarche and Menstruation in School Settings.” Her mentor is Rona Carter, assistant professor of psychology.

Audrey Kalindi, University of Zambia, Zambia, "Factors that affect individuals' access to and use of maternal health services, HIV testing and linkage to medical care in Zambia."  Her mentor is A. Oveta Fuller, associate professor of microbiology and immunology.

Pamela Khanakwa, Makerere University, Uganda, “Bagisu Men Don’t Cry: Imbalu and the Construction of Masculinities in Uganda.” Her mentor is Derek Peterson, professor of history and Afroamerican and African studies.

Mestewat Debasu Mognhodie St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College, Ethiopia, “The Exploration and Utilization of Glycan-Based Biomarkers for Breast Cancer Patients on Chemotherapy in Ethiopia.” He will be working with David Lubman, professor of surgery.

Moses Muhumuza, Mountains of the Moon University, Uganda, “Holistic Community-Based Biodiversity Conservation in National Parks in Rural Africa.” He will be working with Nyeema Harris, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

Precious Ndlovu, University of the Western Cape, South Africa, “The Economics of Mergers and Acquisitions in Africa’s Regional Competition Law Frameworks: An Examination of the COMESA Competition Commission.” Her mentor is Laura Beny, professor of law.

Melessew Nigussie Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia, “Investigation of Triggering Mechanisms of Ionospheric Irregularities in the Equatorial Ionosphere.” His mentor is Mark Moldwin, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and associate chair of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering.

Oluwakemi Rotimi, Covenant University, Nigeria, “The Role of Epigenetics in the Toxicity of Environmental Exposures.” Her mentor is Jaclyn Goodrich, research fellow in Environmental Health Sciences.

Mthokozisi Simelane, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, “Ursolic Acid Acetate as a Promising Agent for Malarial Chemotherapy.” His mentor is Vernon Carruthers, associate director of Cellular and Molecular Biology Program and professor of microbiology and immunology.

Zewdu Jima Takle St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College, Ethiopia, “The Molecular Signaling Mechanisms in the Vessel Wall after Stroke and Pathways Mediated by Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF).” He will be working with Daniel A. Lawrence, Frederick G. L. Huetwell Collegiate Professor of Basic Research in Cardiovascular Medicine and professor of internal medicine, and molecular and integrative physiology.

Solomon Assefa Woreta, University of Gondar, Ethiopia, “Evidence-Based Public Health Practice for Screening Hypertension in Ethiopian Public Hospitals.” His mentor is Minal Patel, John G. Searle Assistant Professor of Health Behavior and Health.

Yikunnoamlak Mezgebu Zerabiruk, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, “From Competition to Composition:  Languages, Regions and Religions in an Ethiopian Literature.” He will work with Judith Irvine, Edward Sapir Collegiate Professor of Linguistic Anthropology and professor of anthropology; and Daniel Herwitz, Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor and professor of history of art, philosophy, comparative literature, and art and design.

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


Media Contact:  Raquel Buckley/