Ann Arbor, Mich. (September 28, 2021) – The African Studies Center (ASC) recently welcomed eight early and mid-career scholars from universities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Sudan to the Ann Arbor campus. They constitute the Fall cohort of U-M African Presidential Scholars and will remain in residence through the end of December. They will be followed by the Winter cohort, comprising an additional 16 scholars from Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda. After a one-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, the program is hosting the largest UMAPS cohort to date in the 2021/22 academic year.

Established in 2009, UMAPS is the university’s flagship program for engagement with colleges and universities on the African continent.

The highly competitive program attracts applications from scholars in all disciplines working at universities and colleges across the continent. “The UMAPS program is by far one of the best fellowship programs on offer for African scholars because you get to work with faculty members who are leaders in their field,” says Kholekile Malindi, recent UMAPS fellow, and lecturer in Economics at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. In addition, UMAPS fellows are integrated into the ASC and U-M community, including the home departments of their U-M collaborators.

The UMAPS fellows in the Fall cohort will present their research to the U-M campus community in a one-day symposium on December 15, 2021. They are:

Stephen Ajwang (Guastalla UMAPS scholar) is a tutorial fellow in the Department of Informatics and Information Science at Rongo University, Kenya, and a PhD student at Kibabii University, also in Kenya. His research focuses on integrating analytics and machine learning to provide farmers with the information necessary to cope with the impacts of climate change. His U-M faculty host is HV (Jag) Jagadish (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science).

Mohammed Seid Ali is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia. His areas of research interest include labor and human rights, development economics, and the African political economy. His U-M faculty collaborator is Laura Beny (Law School).

Fawzi Hassan Bakhiet, who received his PhD from Université Charles de Gaulle, Lille III, is an assistant professor and head of the Department of Archaeology in the Faculty of Arts at Neelain University, Sudan. Bakhiet previously served as senior inspector of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), also in Sudan. He will be working with Geoff Emberling (Kelsey Museum of Archaeology).

Oluwabunmi Bernard is a lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and African Languages at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. She received her PhD in Yorùbá language and literature from that same university. Bernard will use her time as a UMAPS scholar to work on new research exploring morality and sexuality in Yorùbá “lampooning songs.” Her U-M collaborator is Omolade Adunbi (Afroamerican and African Studies).

Bantayehu Shiferaw Chanie is an assistant professor in political science and international relations at Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia, where he is also a PhD candidate. His research interests include conflict and state formation, ethnicity, federalism and state-building, democratization and human rights, foreign policy and international relations. He will be working with Susan Page (Ford School of Public Policy and Law School).

Fedila Shehebo Hussen (Wandoff-Smith UMAPS Scholar) is a lecturer in law at the University of Gondar, Ethiopia. She received her LLB at the same university, and her LLM in Business and Corporate law from Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia. She also serves as a free legal aid provider for vulnerable groups, particularly women, children, and people with disabilities. Adam Ashforth (Afroamerican and African Studies) serves as her U-M collaborator.

Million Alemayehu Mengesha is a lecturer at the School of Earth Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. At U-M, he will investigate the timing and nature of carbonate formation in the Plio-Pleistocene continental sediments of the Afar rift and analyze their impact on petroleum reservoir properties. Naomi Levin (Earth and Environmental Sciences) serves as his U-M collaborator.

Tolulope Olawole is a faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry at Covenant University, Nigeria. Having worked on the gene modulatory effects of nutrients in diabetic rodents during her PhD, her research focus is now on the influence of early-life nutrition, malnutrition, and environmental chemical exposure on the epigenome. She will be working with Jaclyn Goodrich (Environmental Health Sciences).

Funding for UMAPS is provided by the U-M Office of the President, Office of the Provost, the South African Initiatives Office, and private donors. To learn more about the program, visit


Contact: Henrike Florusbosch (

The African Studies Center (ASC) at the University of Michigan provides strategic guidance and coordination for Africa-related education, research, and training activities on campus, and promotes opportunities for collaboration with African partners on the continent. ASC is a member of the International Institute.