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HomeAfricaEmpowering African Environmental Science: The Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer - STOKVEL TALK

Empowering African Environmental Science: The Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer – STOKVEL TALK

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(JWO) Research Grant Seeks Another Trailblazing Recipient
Historically, Africa has been underrepresented in global research and development
endeavours, with limited resources allocated to research initiatives compared to other
regions. However, there is growing recognition of the immense potential for
innovation and scientific advancement within Africa’s diverse landscapes and
communities. Subsequently, this is why research grants such as the Jennifer Ward
Oppenheimer Research Grant, now in its sixth year, are impactful.
The Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer Research Grant (JWO Grant) was established in
2019 to honour the legacy of the late. Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer, a distinguished
pioneer in African education and environmental science. The JWO Research Grant
has been instrumental in advancing vital research initiatives across the continent. As
it approaches almost a decade of existence, the JWO Grant aims to attract a greater
number of early-career scientists to apply in 2024, offering them the opportunity to
potentially receive a transformative award.
Over the past five years, early-career scholars and scientists specialising in various
environmental disciplines such as biodiversity, microplastics, and disease vectors
have eagerly sought this grant to explore innovative research topics aimed at
addressing the unique challenges confronting Africa’s natural environment. Dr.
Duncan MacFadyen, the Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation
Head, praises the JWO Research Grant for showcasing cutting-edge, innovative
scientific research ideas and providing a platform to foster and support Africa’s
brightest minds. The grant also contributes African voices to global conversations on
the environment and sustainability.
This cutting-edge research not only sheds light on pressing environmental issues but
also actively contributes African perspectives to international discussions on
sustainability. Last year, Dr. Lovanomenjanahary Marline, a renowned bryologist from
Madagascar, exemplified the grant’s impact by securing $150,000 for her ground-
breaking research. Dr. Marline’s study on bryophytes and lichen explores their
potential in monitoring critical environmental and human health risks such as
biological diversity loss, climate change, and air pollution. With the support of the
JWO Research Grant, Dr. Marline is collaborating with researchers and students
from across Africa to further her research.
The positive influence of the JWO Research Grant has been far-reaching since its
inception, with published scientist Dr. Haley Clements being the inaugural recipient in
2019. Her winning project, “Quantifying the Biodiversity Planetary Boundary for
Africa,” focused on addressing the pressing need to navigate growth sustainably,
avoid exceeding biodiversity loss limits, and highlight the societal benefits of
investing in nature. Dr. Clements is currently an interdisciplinary conservation
scientist at the University of Stellenbosch.

Dr. Bernard Coetzee, Dr Gideon Idowu and Dr. Elizabeth le Roux were honoured as
recipients of the JWO Research Grant in 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively. Dr. Le
Roux’s research is focused on aligning ecological processes with local livelihoods
amidst the growing isolation of African protected areas. With the support of the grant,
Dr. Le Roux successfully measured the connectedness achieved by various
rangeland management techniques.
Dr. Gideon Idowu from Nigeria, winner of the grant in 2021, emphasized the
importance of studying chemical pollutants and microplastics in Africa’s freshwater
systems. His innovative study extended beyond the well-explored ocean context,
examining the short- and long-term effects on human health.
Dr. Bernard Coetzee’s research aims to understand the impact of artificial light
use in Africa and its potential role in spreading vector-borne illnesses such as
malaria. The JWO Research Grant helped him facilitate research into this crucial 
yet understudied subject.
The JWO Grant has evolved into a significant source of support for researchers and
individuals committed to fostering a better, more economically and environmentally
sustainable Africa. This program not only drives positive change but also empowers
early-career scientists to address the pressing climate crises of our time. In its sixth
year, JWO is calling upon early-career African scientists to apply and put forward
their ground-breaking research for a chance to make a lasting impact.
Grant Eligibility
1. The lead applicant should be an early-career African scientist with strong links
to a credible African institution and proposing to conduct research on the
2. The 2024 JWO Research Grant encourages transdisciplinary research
applications that demonstrate a strong link to biodiversity and conservation.
3. The applicant must hold a degree (PhD) and should have no more than seven
years of work and/or research experience post-degree (excluding career
breaks, including family-related breaks).
4. The institution must have a proven ability to manage funding and subscribes
to good financial grant practices.
5. The institutional affiliation may be academic, research, government, NGO, or
for-profit organization.
Grant Award
The 2024 JWO grant of $150,000 (USD) will be awarded to one successful applicant.
The grant will support a research program of up to three years. There will be an
annual call for new applications (previously funded research will not be eligible), and
the grant recipient will be announced at the Oppenheimer Research Conference.

To apply for the grant, please follow this link –
Applications are open from the 2 nd of April 2024 to the 3rd of May 2024.
About Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation
The Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation team continue to build a
first-class research entity which partners with national and international researchers
to conduct cutting-edge research focused on the natural sciences ensuring practical
and impactful outcomes. They are committed to further developing, expanding, and
promoting the growth of sustainable conservation programs and networks throughout
the African continent.