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Applications open for African environmental researchers to apply for grant

The 2021 Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer (JWO) research grant recipient Gideon Idowu and Oppenheimer Generations chairperson Johnathon Oppenheimer. | Supplied

The 2021 Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer (JWO) research grant recipient Gideon Idowu and Oppenheimer Generations chairperson Johnathon Oppenheimer. | Supplied

Published May 20, 2022

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Cape Town - The increase in extreme weather events has prompted academics to stress the importance of intensified research of the environmental impact of climate change.

The Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer (JWO) offered around R2.4 million to assist African research efforts in preserving the continent’s natural environment.

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Over the past three years, hundreds of researchers have applied for the grant, with research subjects that focused on environmental challenges facing Africa.

Oppenheimer Generations head of research and conservation Duncan MacFadyen said: “The purpose of the award is to support African researchers with a grant that will enable them to conduct and fund their research initiatives, while honouring the memory of Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer, who was passionate about tackling environmental issues on the continent.”

Oppenheimer Generations head of philanthropies Bridget Fury said a key component in the selection of the recipients was the positive impact their work would have on the environment.

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Previous winners included Stellenbosch University post-doctoral research fellow Hayley Clements whose research explored the correlation between the strength of biodiversity intactness across Africa and how it related to human health to influence policy decision making to ensure biodiversity was strengthened.

Fury said the work of other recipients had direct applications to implications for the management of the environment as well as mitigation of climate change.

The previous year’s JWO grant was awarded to Gideon Idowu, a researcher and lecturer at the Nigeria Federal University of Technology Akure (Futa), whose research assisted policymakers and communities to better understand the effects of micro-plastics and chemical contaminants on people and the environment.

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“My research is investigating levels of microplastics and associated endocrine-disrupting chemicals in freshwater and marine environments. It is also accessing the level of human exposure to these contaminants,” Idowu said.

He said the research was key to understanding the magnitude of the threat posed by plastic pollution to aquatic biodiversity and human health in Africa and to inform needed policy changes to mitigate indiscriminate disposal of plastic wastes.

Fury encouraged applicants to apply online at https://jwogrant.kinsta.cloud/grant-application/ before the closing date on May 27.

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