74th Graduation: Prof. Leif Abrahamsson Honoured for His Contribution to the Development of Mathematics in E.A

Prof. John Mango Magero presenting Prof. Leif Abrahamsson for the Award

Makerere University has awarded Prof. Leif Abrahamsson a Honorary Doctor of Science in recognition and appreciation of his contribution to the development of Mathematics in East Africa, and particularly in Uganda. The award was presented to Prof. Leif Abrahamsson by the Acting Chancellor, also Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe on the first day of the 74th graduation ceremony, Monday, 29th January 2024.

Prof. Abrahamsson receiving his award from the Acting Chancellor, also Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe

Prof. Leif Abrahamsson, formerly Programme Director at the International Science Programme (ISP), Uppsala-Sweden, and Coordinator of the Bilateral Programme of Sida at Makerere University, has immensely contributed to the development of teaching mathematics, and research capacities in Ugandan universities and globally through quality and mass PhD training and postdocs and research publications. It all started in 2001 when Prof. Abrahamsson convened a meeting of key African Mathematicians from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Ghana, and Kenya in Arusha-Tanzania to discuss the poor state of mathematics in the region then. His initiative under the Eastern Africa Universities Mathematics Programme (EAUMP) later built a solid background for Sida support to Mathematics in the region, which has seen the training of over 30 PhD students, over 20 Master students, and over 15 Postdocs in Mathematics and its Applications in Uganda since 2002.

The Chairperson, Makerere University Council, Mrs Lorna Magara presenting souvenirs to Prof. Abrahamsson

Presenting Prof. Abrahamsson for the award, Prof. John Mango Magero, Coordinator of Sida Project- 316 Capacity Building in Mathematics and Its Applications informed the congregation that over 100 publications in Mathematics at Makerere University are direct outcomes of Prof. Abrahamsson’s EAUMP and Sida initiatives. “Makerere University and Uganda as a whole are a big beneficiary of Prof. Abrahamsson’s work which rhymes with the country’s Development Plan of developing sciences.”

Prof. Abrahamsson has extended similar contributions to Mathematics in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, Niger, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and some countries in South East Asia (i.e Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar).

Prof. Abrahamsson conveys his appreciation for the award

CoNAS graduation

Overall, the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS) has presented 331 students for the award of degrees of Makerere University. Of these, 12 have graduated with PhDs (1 female and 11 male), 35 with Masters (12 female and 23 male), and 284 with BSc (79 female and 205 male).

The Principal of CoNAS, Prof. Winston Tumps Ireeta presenting PhD graduands

During the course of the 74th graduation ceremony, a total of 12,913 graduands will receive degrees and diplomas of Makerere University. Of these, a total of 132 students will graduate with PhDs, 1,585 with Masters degrees, 11,016 with Bachelor’s degrees, 156 with postgraduate diplomas, and 24 with undergraduate diplomas. 53% of the graduands are female and 47% are male. In the category of PhD graduands, 46 are female and 86 are male. In the category of students graduating with Master’s degrees, 699 are female and 886 are male.

The only female PhD graduate at CoNAS receiving her award

Remarks by the Vice Chancellor

In his remarks, the Acting Chancellor, also Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe applauded the Government of Uganda, parents, guardians, sponsors, and development partners for the enormous financial and moral support provided to the graduands.

Some of the PhD graduates with the Dean, School of Biosciences, Prof. Arthur Tugume

Status of research and innovations at Makere

Commenting on the status of research and innovations at Makerere, the Vice Chancellor noted that as a result of the various partnerships forged over time, the University’s research output in terms of innovations and publications had tremendously increased.

A PhD graduate celebrating with his relatives after receiving the award

Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award

Through his inaugural Makerere University Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Awards, in recognition of outstanding performers in research and publication, the Vice Chancellor presented plaques and certificates of recognition to the best five researchers from each of the 10 colleges. Based on the highest number of publications between the year 2017 and 2023 according to the Scorpus database, Prof. Moses Robert Kamya and Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze from the College of Health Sciences emerged the best overall male and female researchers. Prof. Moses Robert Kamya has 271 publications and Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze has 153 publications in the aforementioned period.

The Minister of State for Higher Education, Hon. Dr. J.C. Muyingo represented the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni

The five members of staff at CoNAS recognized for their research excellence included; Prof. Charles Masembe form the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences; Prof. Godwin Kakuba and Prof. John Mango Magero from the Department of Mathematics; Dr Godwin Anywar from the Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology; as well as Prof. Robert Byamukama and Dr Patrick Sebugere from the Department of Chemistry. 

Speaking about the awards, the Vice Chancellor urged members of staff to continue conducting research on national development priorities as well as matters of global interest. “I also implore you to continue publishing your work in high-impact journals so as contribute to our drive to become a research-led university. Needless to say, the research should lead to patents, copyrights and trademarks, and tangible innovations in the form of products, policy briefs, manuals and others.”

Some of the CoNAS MSc graduates

Transforming Makerere into a research-led University

On the aspirations to transform Makerere into a research-led University as stipulated in the 2020/2030 Strategic Plan, the Vice Chancellor noted that with funding from the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), the University was supporting PhD research ideas that generate knowledge that addresses national development priorities. “Additionally, through the same fund, we are supporting the commercialization of projects that have demonstrated the potential for scaling up. These commercialization efforts have been complemented by our partners including the UNDP who have supported the establishment of state-of-the-art Innovation Pod, the first of 13such pods to be established across Africa. The Pod will facilitate students to apply design thinking to solve societal problems and will offer collaborative working spaces to enable students create business ideas as well as host community and collaboration building events.”

CoNAS staff with Prof. Abrahamsson after receiving his award

Appreciation to Government

The Vice Chancellor appreciated the Government of Uganda for its continued support to Makerere University. “It would not be possible for Makerere University to realise all these achievements had it not been for the unwavering support of our Visitor, our Minister, Parliament and the entire Government. I wish to convey our appreciation to H.E. the President and the entire Government for the continued support to Makerere University, especially the support to staff welfare and the Research and Innovation Fund. We once again pledge our commitment to serving our country with maximum dedication through training of highly skilled human resource, research for development and support to Government programmes including the Parish Development Model and measures aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”

He also appreciated all stakeholders who are providing scholarships to enable bright, but economically disadvantaged students to attain education at Makerere and to support research and innovation. These include: Makerere University Council through the Female Scholarship Foundation, the Madhvani Foundation, the Government of Uganda through the Higher Education Students Financing Board, Sida of Sweden, the Embassy of China, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Government Ministries, State House, NORAD, Gerda Henkel Foundation, Mellon Foundation, USAID, NIH, Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, Centre for Disease Control, ARUA, RUFORUM, IUCEA and many others.

Performing Arts students entertaining the guests during the ceremony

Makerere University Transcripts and Certificates

The Vice Chancellor noted that the University had come up with measures aimed at making the issuance of academic transcripts and certificates very fast and convenient by shortening the clearance process. “With the support of the University Council and Senate, the Department of the Academic Registrar, the Directorate of ICT Support Services, and the leadership at the Colleges, the academic transcripts for students graduating during the 74th graduation ceremony were printed before graduation. The academic transcripts are ready and they are due for issuance to graduands who have satisfied the academic and financial obligations. I therefore urge all our graduands to pick their transcripts from their respective colleges at the end of this graduation ceremony.” 

Advice to the students

The Vice Chancellor cautioned the graduands against indiscipline noting that success only comes with discipline and hard work. “With regard to our efforts to continue improving student discipline, I appreciate the First Lady and Hon. Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni for coming up with a programme – the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) aimed at building a critical mass of the next generation of leaders through character building and formation.

Remarks by the Minister of Education and Sports

In her remarks presented by the State Minister for Higher Education, Hon. J.C. Muyingo, the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni congratulated the graduands upon the milestone, and faculty for their unwavering commitment to academic excellence. “The Government of Uganda and the Ministry of Education and Sports are prioritizing the youth because you are very central in the transformation of Uganda. I am glad that the students and youth I am addressing during this 74th graduation ceremony of Makerere University have acquired the academic knowledge and skills, which set the pace for you to come up with ideas that can be turned into business ventures and entrepreneurship sites.”

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