Welcome to this special N2Africa PhD Update. Each year around this time we ask all of the PhD candidates either directly funded by N2Africa or affiliated to the project to provide an update on the status of their work. As you will see it is a rich harvest! Two candidates Amaral Chibebe (Mozambique) and George Mwenda (Kenya) have already completed their PhDs. Amaral is back in Mozambique working as a rhizobiologist for IITA. We extend our congratulations to George who just graduated on the 14th September. He is still in Australia working part-time as a teaching assistant for biochemistry and cell biology laboratory sessions for undergraduates at Murdoch University. At the same time he is busy writing papers from his thesis and applying for post-doc positions – so if you know of any vacancies please let him know!

Left to right: Dr Jason Terpolilli (PhD supervisor), Dr George Mwenda, Dr Amanuel Asrat (fellow graduand) and Dr Graham O’Hara (PhD supervisor)

Several other PhD candidates have published journal articles already and are well on their way to completing their degrees, whereas others are still in the major phase of field work and experimentation. A few have just started as their studies will focus on evaluation of the dissemination methods used in N2Africa as part of the overall impact studies.

We are particularly proud of the wide range of topics covered by the PhDs. They are covering everything from molecular characterisation of the rhizobia nodulating the key legumes, the legume genotype by rhizobial genotype interaction, field measurements of nitrogen fixation and crop performance, the role of legume crop residues in animal production, participatory studies of farmers’ adaptation of N2Africa technologies, farm scale modelling and marketing studies of public-private partnerships. This reflects the interdisciplinary nature of N2Africa and the range of disciplines needed to fill the legume-rhizobium technology pipeline from discovery to application to address the needs of African smallholders.

As N2Africa is now producing a lot of research outputs in the form of journal articles I highlight two things: First, all of our papers must be published in “Open Access” journals and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will cover publication costs. Please contact us to see how to arrange this. Second, please only submit your papers to reputable journals – we are happy to advise on which journals we should choose and which to avoid. Predatory journals are increasingly trapping even experienced researchers (see this link) – so many of these journals have no proper editorial process and are not ‘peer reviewed’. it is a real pity if good research gets tainted in this way.

Read on! We look forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions, and to receiving your news and updates from the field for the next Podcaster.

Ken Giller

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