US embassy invests R8m in UFS research project
The University of the Free State (UFS) will further strengthen its ties with the Appalachian State University in the next two academic years through a research project funded by the US Embassy and Consulates in South Africa.
The project with an R8 million fund injection, between the UFS and the US institution, will cover the two Master’s degree programmes in underdeveloped niche areas, meteorological weather stations, leadership capacity building for black women in academia, and doctoral research projects.
The Qwaqwa campus departments involved are physics, geography, community development, and the Afromontane Research Unit (ARU).
The Qwaqwa Campus is in one of the most biologically diverse areas stretching across two countries, South Africa and Lesotho, and including more than 600km of mountain range
Talking about this collaboration, the project leader, Professor Geofrey Mukwada, said it would bring together researchers from both the UFS and Appalachian State University and enable them to work together to develop what is currently an underdeveloped research niche, mountain studies.
“This project will reinforce the mandate of the ARU. It will provide the basis for a long-term development agenda through training and infrastructure development. For instance, the project will fund the implementation of two Master’s degree programmes – an MSc in mountain environments and MA in community development – which are long-term projects,” says Mukwada.
“It will also support innovation in climate change research. Through this project, it will be possible to receive climate data from weather stations in distant, isolated, and generally inaccessible locations without travelling to those locations.
“We will be able to understand how the climate of the region is changing and assist in developing adaptation measures and decisions that are applicable to agriculture, water, tourism, environment and other sectors. This will enhance the capacity of the ARU to contribute to the development of research in mountain environments,” he adds.
The project’s virtual launch takes place on Tuesday, November 10 at 3pm. To find out more, visit www.ufs.ac.za