How RISE is helping advance science research in developing countries

How RISE is helping advance science research in developing countries
3 min read

The Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE) is a project of the Science Initiative Group (SIG), an organisation dedicated to fostering science in developing countries and based at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, USA.RISE logo white background

RISE was established in 2008 with the goal of strengthening science research and education in sub-Saharan Africa by increasing the population of qualified academic staff in the region’s universities. Its broader goal is to build capacity in science, technology and innovation as a key to economic development in sub-Saharan Africa.

RISE is currently made up of five university-based networks spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa, each focused on a particular research area. It supports scientists pursuing PhDs and master’s degrees on the continent through these research and training networks. Its scientists have reaped the benefits of participating in information and material exchange, scientific consultation, and collaborative research. It was designed with African needs and challenges in mind. The five networks’ current areas of scientific training—materials science and engineering, natural products research, biochemistry and bioinformatics, water resources, and marine science—target some of Africa’s most pressing ecological problems and technological deficits. Read more about the RISE scientists’ stories here.

“The network approach is what makes RISE unique. The idea behind the RISE networks is that they give their affiliated students a comprehensive PhD (or master’s, or in the case of some of our students, both) experience within Africa by pooling the resources—scientific infrastructure, mentors, and researchers—of multiple universities and institutions across a given region. The students benefit from both thesis advisors of varied backgrounds and a wide array of collaborative network activities. The networks also fund students to use equipment outside of their home universities as needed.  The RISE network model has enabled students to do compelling research within Africa, and this itself has had the effect of reducing brain drain. All of our current students either have positions in Africa awaiting them upon graduation or are planning to seek employment within Africa after completing their degrees. The primary objective of RISE has been to train the next generation of professors who will teach and conduct research in sciences within Africa. The concept for RISE grew out of discussions with African stakeholders, and it has been the goal all along to root the entire initiative firmly within Africa. We are currently working on a partnership to transfer responsibility for RISE to an African secretariat, and we are hopeful that the program will continue after its Carnegie-IAS iteration ends.

– Sarah Rich, Program Associate, Science Initiative Group (SIG)