Dr Mark Otieno, a senior lecturer at the University of Embu, has secured a research grant worth Sh106 million from the German Research Foundation. The grant will enable Dr Otieno to conduct investigative research on functional complementarity between nocturnal and diurnal pollinators in the Taita Hills biodiversity hotspots in Kenya, along a land-use gradient.
The three-year research project is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Kenya Vision 2030. It aims to promote sustainable development and protect biodiversity by focusing on the impact of human activity on pollinators and plant reproduction. The study will also inform sustainable agricultural practices that support biodiversity and promote food security.
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. He will be joined by a panel of researchers from the University of Embu and the University of Wuerzburg in Germany.
The research team includes Prof. Dr Ingolf Steffan Dewenter, a professor of spatial ecology, plant-pollinator interactions, tropical agroecosystems, and crop pollination from the University of Wuerzburg. 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 team.
Dr Otieno, who is an agroecology lecturer in the department of Water and Agricultural Resource Management (Warma), has previously been awarded for his research work. In 2022, he was named the University of Embu researcher of the year.
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 added that the research has the 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. The research project is set to begin in May 2023, and it is expected to contribute to achieving one of the goals of the Kenya Vision 2030, which is to promote environmentally sustainable development.
Article by RB Correspodent