A University of Embu senior lecturer has won a Sh106 million research grant from the German Research Foundation.
Dr Mark Otieno, an agroecology lecturer in the department of Water and Agricultural Resource Management (Warma) has placed the university on the world map after winning the award to do investigative research on functional complementarity between nocturnal and diurnal pollinators along a land use gradient in Taita Hills biodiversity hotspots in Kenya.
The research will align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Kenya Vision 2030, which both aim to promote sustainable development and protect biodiversity.
The study will focus on the impact of human activity on pollinators and plant reproduction, which will inform sustainable agricultural practices that support biodiversity and promote food security.
The three-year research will run from May 2023.
It will contribute to achieving one of the goals of the Kenya Vision 2030 to promote environmentally sustainable development.
The research will jointly be implemented by a panel of researchers from the University of Embu represented by Dr Otieno and the University of Wuerzburg in Germany represented by Prof Dr Ingolf Steffan Dewenter, a professor of spatial ecology, plant pollinator interactions, tropical agroecosystems and crop pollination.
Expert in montane biodiversity
Dr Marcell Peters, an expert in montane biodiversity and ecology, organismic traits and ecosystem functions and land use change will also be part of the researchers.
It is not the first time Dr Otieno is bagging such an award.
In 2022, he was named the University of Embu researcher of the year.
After receiving the grant, Dr Otieno expressed his gratitude to the foundation’s selection panel for the award, saying the study will have a significant impact on food security in Africa by increasing the number of pollinators, which is crucial for the reproduction of plant species.
University Vice Chancellor Daniel Mugendi applauded Dr Otieno for winning the grant, saying it will be a major boost in achieving the Kenya Vision 2030 and sustainable development goals.
Prof Mugendi said the research has a potential to inform policy and agricultural practices that promote sustainable development and protect biodiversity in the entire world.
Dr Otieno holds a PhD in Agroecology from the University of Reading (UK), a Master of Science in Animal Ecology and a Bachelor of Education (Science) degree in Biology from Kenyatta University.