PHD students with high-quality research works have been encouraged to apply for funding support from the Alexander Humboldt Foundation in Germany. This was made known at the Humboldt Kolleg International Conference, 2018 which took place at the Federal University of Technology, Akure.
“The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation sponsors excellent researchers from all over the world to come to do research at German universities,” Dr Daniella Kneissl, Head of Division, Africa and Middle East Representative of the Alexander Humboldt Foundation.
She said, “At the end of the research stay, the researchers go back to their home countries, and we go on to sponsor them with alumni sponsorships, and the Humboldt Kollege programme is one of these.
‘Humboldtians,’ as we call our alumni, are able to hold these scientific conferences at their home universities and we can sponsor these financially. We get funding for this from the Federal External Office in Germany.”
Shedding more light about the opportunity, Dr Thomas Hesse, Deputy General Secretary, Alexander Humboldt Foundation, told Nigerian Tribune that, “Scientists and scholars come from abroad to Germany. We support about 2,000 Humboldtians per year. A thousand are from Africa, two-thirds are from sub-Saharan Africa; we have about 200 from Africa which makes Nigeria the largest alumni group in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The aim of the Humboldt Foundation is not just to invite scholars to study between six months and two years to Germany to do research, the aim of the Humboldt Foundation is to create networks spanning countries of scientists from every part of the world. Right now, we have over 30,000 alumni from 140 countries of the world. The idea is to network those 30,000 people not just with Germany, but among themselves.”
He said the Foundation was sponsoring research for two reasons: “to solve global problems because no scientist or institution can do it alone. Second, which is cultural, is to create trust among scientists and the countries they come from as they collaborate.”
Speaking on the quality of research on display at the conference, Dr Hesse said he was impressed with the work he saw scientists and scholars doing in Nigerian universities, and their support for the next generation, adding that the support for development in Nigeria from the Foundation will continue. He said financing infrastructure abroad was not within the purview of the foundation.
“I was privileged to be a fellow of Alexander von Humboldt some years ago. The main thrust is to support researchers based on excellent researches. There is no quota for country or gender, just excellence,” said convener of the conference, Professor Oluwatooyin Osundahunsi, of the Department of Food Science and Technology, FUTA.
She said alumni are expected to return to their home countries to contribute to development there. “One of the means of supporting is sponsoring this international conference,” she added.
Speaking on the theme of the conference, “Science and technology as a Panacea to Revitalise Insurgence-Ravaged Economy in Achieving Wealth and Health Security,” Professor Osundahunsi said Nigeria is not supposed to still be at this level of development. “We have what it takes. We are endowed with human and natural resources. We are trying to make suggestions to the people and government such that we will be the ones to solve Nigeria’s problems especially hunger which is our main focus for this conference.”
“We have gathered seasoned scientists to bring solutions to malnutrition, over-nutrition, and diseases associated with food.”
She said such solutions for Nigeria could be a prototype for other African countries.
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