Tailored opportunities: Postdoctoral Research Fellowships on the African bioeconomy


The University of Pretoria is excited to announce a new Early Career Fellowship that aims to develop research leadership for the African Bioeconomy. Capacity in this focus area is crucial to help address Africa’s most urgent challenges and opportunities for sustainable and inclusive development.

The fellowship has unique elements that focus on both technical research and leadership skills development. It will aim to support the development of the research base at the fellows’ institutions, and build a longer-term collaboration to develop sustainable and high potential research programs. This will help to bridge the chasm between the completion of a Ph.D. and having an established research program. The ultimate goal of the fellowship is not only to produce excellent science, but to support the development of new centres of research excellence in Africa, one young research leader at a time.

The fellowship hopes to attract applications on topic areas such as technological and non-technological exploitation of natural resources to improve human health, address food security, ecological issues and climate change as influencers of bioeconomic advancement, the politics of the bioeconomy, including tensions around land and food security and economic growth, income insecurity and inequality, and the cultural perspectives and practices that influence human interactions with the natural environment.

The complexity and scale of the development challenge, as captured by the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and the AU2063 strategy, require a goal oriented and interconnected approach to research. For this reason, this program focuses on transdisciplinarity to connect various disciplines and sectors affected by or engaging with specific goals, from research institutions to governments, industry and broader society. The intent of the program is to stimulate a problem-oriented form of research which combines interdisciplinarity with the participation of extra-scientific actors for mutual learning and sustainable solutions in a real-world context.

This fellowship forms part of the programs hosted by Future Africa, an Institute at the University of Pretoria. The Future Africa campus will create a dynamic living, learning and research environment where a community of scholars and a range of other leading minds can engage to advance excellence in scholarship, dialogue and social responsibility across disciplines, cultures and generations. Future Africa proposes a new model for research and science leadership training in Africa at the intersection of disciplines, industry, government and civil society, within collaborations linked to global research networks.

The University of Pretoria (UP) is a research-intensive university that takes pride in its focus on research that matters, and its engagement with the challenges faced by developing regions, and Africa, in particular. UP is one of the oldest (established 1908) and largest Universities in Africa (>59000 students, approximately 14000 of which are postgraduate students). UP conducts training and research across the whole spectrum of knowledge fields. This fellowship is aligned with the Universities internationalisation goals with a focus on Africa, as well as its focus on interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary research.


Applications are welcome for such topic areas as:

  • Technological and non-technological exploitation of natural resources such as animals, plant biodiversity, micro-organisms and minerals to improve human health, address food security, and subsequently to contribute to economic growth and improved quality of life.
  • Ecological issues and climate change as influencers, promoters, and inhibitors of bioeconomic advancement.
  • The politics of the bioeconomy, including tensions around land and food security, biodiversity and indigenous knowledge, and economic growth and growing income insecurity and inequality.
  • Cultural perspectives and practices that influence, assist, or impair human interactions with the natural environment.This early-career fellowship will aim to develop research leadership to fill a critical gap in the African research capacity ecosystem. Emerging research leaders in the natural and social sciences and humanities are encouraged to apply for this fellowship to help address Africa’s most urgent challenges and opportunities to develop a sustainable and inclusive bioresource-based economy.

The program will select fellows from among the doctoral graduates and early-career postdoctoral
fellows linked to networks and initiatives supported by Carnegie Corporation New York. Eligible
programs are:
• African Humanities Program
• Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA)
• University of Cape Town (Corporation-supported doctoral and postdoctoral fellows)
• University of Ghana (Corporation-supported doctoral and postdoctoral fellows)
• Makerere University (Corporation-supported doctoral and postdoctoral fellows, plus MISR  doctoral graduates)
• Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Fellowship Program
• Networks comprising the Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE): AFNNET, AMSEN, SABINA, SSAWRN, WIO-RISE
• Regional Universities Forum for Capacity-Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) (Corporationsupported doctoral fellows)
• University of the Witwatersrand (Corporation-supported doctoral and postdoctoral fellows)


Deadline: April 30, 2018


All applicants have to provide two support letters by academic referees (details are provided in the application form). One of the two referees has to commit to be involved in future communications and mentorship in case of selection of the applicant into the program. This referee will be informed about the progress of the fellow and should be willing to support the fellow if he or she requires it. All applications will be reviewed and shortlisted by representatives of Future Africa at the University of Pretoria, in collaboration with expert reviewers at other institutions.

For detailed information on this opportunity, read this document.

If you need any support in making an application, post your question in the comment box below.

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Author: African Academic/Researcher

Science and Research by Africans for Africa

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