Dr Tugume hands over the office laptop to Dr Katuura
Dr Esther Katuura has been appointed Head, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS). She takes on from Dr Arthur K. Tugume who was recently appointed Dean, School of Biosciences after serving his second term of office for close to two years. Dr Tugume served as Head, Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology for two terms (2012-2016 and 2020-2022).
On 4th April 2022, Dr Tugume handed over office to Dr Katuura at a ceremony witnessed by the Principal, CoNAS, Dr Tumps Winston Ireeta and Senior members of staff in the Department. Presenting his handover report, Dr Tugume congratulated Dr Katuura upon her appointment and acknowledged the contribution of former heads of Department. Since its establishment in 1956, the Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology has had 13 heads of Department including; Prof. Edna M. Lind (1956-1962), Prof. Robert T. Milburn (1962-1974), Prof. Hannington K. Taligoola (RIP) 1974-1976 and 1984-1986), Prof. Hannington Oryem-Origa (1986-1988 and 1988-1990), Prof. Remegius Bukenya – Ziraba (RIP) 1990-2002), Prof. Patrick Mucunguzi (2002-2004 and 2004-2008), Prof. Esezah K.Kakudidi (2008-2012), Dr Arthur Tugume (2012-2016 and 2020-2022), and Dr Perpetua Ipulet (2016-2020). Dr Katuura is the 14th Head of Department.
Outlining the achievements registered in the two years (2020-2022) of his second term of office, Dr Tugume said the Department had completed the revision of several programmes and developed four new programmes. The revised programmes include; Bachelor of Science Biological – Botany, Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology, Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology, Master of Science in Botany – three tracks (other 2 tracks elevated to stand alone MSc programmes). Proposed programmes include; Master of Science in Genetics, Master of Science in Microbiology and Plant pathology, Master of Science in Applied Economic Botany and Bachelor of Science in Ethnobotany. Other achievements included the documentation of the 66-year old departmental history. He however expressed concern over the low rates of graduate completion and limited practical exposure of students due to lack of funds.
Dr Tugume appreciated Makerere University Management for the opportunity accorded to him to serve as head of Department for two terms. He appreciated staff and students for the unmatched teamwork and support.
He urged the new head to consider the current staff as the most critical and most important resource in the pursuit of her duties and pledged continued support to the Department.
The incoming head expressed gratitude to the University Management for the appointment. She appreciated Dr Tugume for his significant contribution, and pledged to carry on with the good works to make the Department better.
Dr Esther Katuura holds a PhD (Phytomedicine), MSc. Plant Taxonomy and Biosystematics and Bachelor of Science, all from Makerere University. She is a Lecturer in the Department of Plant Science, Microbiology and Biotechnology, Makerere University. She also worked as a Principal Research Officer, Natural Chemotherapeutic Research Institute-Ministry of Health, Uganda.
MANDATE AND FOCUS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF Plant SCIENCES, MICROBIOLOGY & BIOTECHNOLOGY (PMB)
For now more than four decades, the department has been alive to the fact that the diversity of “plant sciences” as a pure science fits in the light of the roles plants play in the maintenance of life on earth. Both higher and lower plants inclusive of ocean and fresh water phytoplanktons generate and supply the earth’s 100% oxygen through photosynthesis, and for this reason are the main support of all other lifeforms on earth.
The Department of PMB, therefore, has over 4 decades themed its academic and research operations to cover, promote and provide scientific leadership as defined in 6 themes stated below:
THEME 1: Classical Botany: Phycology, Plant Taxonomy, Systematics and Diversity.
THEME 2: Economic Botany: Ethnobiology, Bioprospecting, People-and-plants.
THEME 3: Plant Physiology: Development, Phytoremediation and Eco-physiology.
THEME 4: Ecology: Nature Conservation and Ecosystem Services.
THEME 5: Microbiology: Plant-microbiota Interactions, Microbiology
THEME 6: Genetics, Evolutionary systems, Molecular Biology & Biotechnology