A school on materials for solar energy conversion is being organized to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in June 2012, with local support from Addis Ababa University. Graduate students and early career researchers from various African nations and the US participate in an instructional program taught by renowned instructors/researchers from Africa and the US. In addition to the instructional program covering a current topic in materials research, a primary objective of the school is to serve as pilot test for a more comprehensive effort in the form of a series of US-Africa winter/summer schools with the goal of developing and sustaining scientific collaborations and exchange opportunities between African and US materials researchers. The initial focus will be on East Africa where the need and hence potential impact are high.
Approximately 50 student participants from the US and Africa, identified through a competitive process, and 10 instructors participate in the two-week school. The school contributes to the long term goal of: (1) building knowledge and capabilities in materials research cooperation between the US and African nations; (2) establishing international collaborations and exchanges; (3) teaching cutting edge research topics to US and African researchers; (4) increasing scientific awareness and communication internationally. These interactions not only personally enrich the school participants but also enhance materials research and education in both Africa and the US.
The Joint U.S.-Africa Materials Initiative (JUAMI) was created to foster collaboration in materials science research between the United States and Africa, with an initial focus on East Africa. Our objective is to develop strong ties between young materials science researchers in both regions by bringing them together in a series of pedagogically focused international research schools and keeping them connected through an online JUAMI community. To this end, the first JUAMI School on Materials for Sustainable Energy was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from December 9, 2012 – December 21, 2012. It was attended by an inaugural class of over 50 graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty, with men and women participating from the U.S., Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia. Three Principal Investigators from the U.S. (Simon Billinge, Columbia University; Sossina Haile, California Institute of Technology; Peter Green, University of Michigan) worked with four co-organizers from Africa (Teketel Yohannes, Addis Ababa University; Bernard Aduda, University of Nairobi; Tom Otiti, Makerere University; Joseph Tesha, University of Dar es Salaam) to organize this highly successful school, which featured 11 experts from a variety of the most important subdisciplines in energy-related materials as instructors and mentors for the students during the workshop. Even beyond the development of research-level scientific knowledge and capabilities among the participants, this school led to a deep level of mutual knowledge and understanding of each other as peers and colleagues, laying the foundation for robust personal and professional collaboration between materials science researchers in the U.S. and Africa to tackle the global challenges currently facing the world. A follow-up one-day symposium was held in Addis Ababa on December 10, 2013 as part of the 2013 Africa Materials Research Society meeting, where about 15 JUAMI participants were invited to share the collaborative research and outreach efforts they had conducted since the first school in 2012. This also gave the broad audience in attendance at the meeting an opportunity to learn about JUAMI and become involved in ongoing JUAMI activities. Moving forward, we have created an online portal to keep JUAMI members connected to each other and generally support the international materials science community (www.juamiresearchportal.pbworks.com). More information and images may be found at the JUAMI2012 facebook page, (www.facebook.com/juami2012?fref=ts) and blog (http://juami2012.blogspot.com/)