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STAFF AND STUDENTS TO BENEFIT FROM BLOSSOMING MMUST-INDIANA UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIP

Staff and students at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, and Indiana University (IU) Bloomington, are set to benefit from the blossoming MMUST-Indiana partnership which began with the visit of two (2) eminent professors, Prof. Henry K. Wakhungu and Prof. Phoebe Wakhungu. The two (2) scholars were at MMUST  on 3rd August, 2021, to recruit prospective graduate students as well as early career staff into IU. The visitors, who were received by the Director, Directorate of International and Academic Linkages, MMUST, Dr. Catherine Aurah, met a number of staff and students to sensitize them regarding opportunities at IU.

 “The goal of this initiative is to talk to as many potential graduate students as possible in order to give them a better understanding of the application process. We are deliberately trying to increase international student enrollment at IU and we hope that this event will lead to a collaboration between the two (2) institutions especially at the Faculty level. There is need to shift from the notion of ‘’ to ‘’ for the benefit of our people,” said Prof. Henry Wakhungu.


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Prof. Henry Wakhungu and Prof. Phoebe Wakhungu with MMUST Director of Research, Prof. Peter Bukhala.


It is worth noting that the two (2) professors’ visit to MMUST is a way of giving back to their community. “As we grow older, the desire to give back to where we came from grows too. Prof. Henry and I are a product of people who gave back. We want to educate our people about the opportunities that are out there and tell them that they can do it regardless of where they come from,” stated Prof. Phoebe Wakhungu. The two (2) scholars hail from Bungoma County but went to Indiana University almost 23 years ago.

According to Prof. Henry Wakhungu, staff exchange will be one of the important components of this initiative. “Faculty here can collaborate one on one with other Faculty at Indiana University. The easiest and most strategic way to begin is to have a starting point by finding out who is doing research in the same area and then connecting with them. We can be the bridge to friends and colleagues that need partners in both institutions,” said Prof. Henry Wakhungu.

Speaking during one of the sessions, Dean School of Public Health, Biomedical Sciences and Technology, MMUST, Prof. Edwin Wamukoya, commended the kind gesture from the Wakhungus, adding that the partnership can become richer if experts from both institutions travelled so as to share their skills in situ.

Prof. Phoebe Wakhungu, a research scientist and adjunct professor at O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, IU, pointed out that publishing is another viable area for partnership. However, she cautioned against ‘lazy’ scholarship and encouraged scientists to stay focused and allow data to speak for itself when carrying out research. “It is important for policy to be generated and implemented directly from research. As scholars, we cannot afford to sit and wait for other people to solve society’s problems,” she said.

The professors assured students that they are very intentional and proactive with this process. “Graduate applications are not new. There are many Websites and people already telling you how to go about it but they are not as organic as somebody who grew up in a village in Kenya. This is a very personal way of reaching out to our own,” said Prof. Henry Wakhungu.

The Director Research and Postgraduate Support, MMUST, Prof. Peter Bukhala, said that scholars must play their role in helping their communities mitigate pressing human catastrophes and everyday challenges. “One such example is the case of Gold mining in Ikolomani, Kakamega, which has benefited foreigners but left locals displaced, sick, hungry and poorer than before. If MMUST gets support from a partner, researchers from a variety of disciplines can move in, not only to alleviate the situation, but also to tap into the opportunities the mining presents,” stated Prof. Bukhala.


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Prof. Phoebe Wakhungu’s response to this was that as researchers, they are willing to support the research on Gold mining in Kakamega by providing research analysis expertise. Prof. Phoebe Wakhungu teaches Statistics at O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, IU, while Prof. Henry Wakhungu is an expert in development of growth simulation models for sustainable management of indigenous community forests, experimental designs in tropical forestry research, and service learning research. 


by  Dr. Lydia AnyonjeMary Wangari Wambugu