School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension engage faculty and staff on their 2021-2022 research activities and their plans for the 2022-2023 academic year

By Diana Meso
On Thursday, September 22, the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension (SGSRE) hosted staff and faculty to a meeting to present their research report for the 2021-2022 academic year, table plans for 2022-2023 academic year, discuss how the school can support staff and faculty increase their research output as well as address questions related to research policies, processes, sourcing and management.

Prof. Munyae Mulinge, DVC, Academic and Student Affairs, in his opening remarks thanked faculty and staff for their immense contribution towards research and commended SGSRE for their effort towards involving the university community in research. He encouraged participants to integrate the five goals of the university’s 2022-2026 strategic plan into their everyday tasks so as to live by the university’s call of Education to take you places.

Prof. Amos Njuguna (Dean, SGSRE) in his presentation pointed out that even though his school mainly focuses on Goal 2: Distinction in research and scholarship, specifically Strategic objective 1: Triple research productivity by 2026 and exceed 160 high impact publications annually and Strategic objective 2: Triple external research funding by 2026, the school works with other stakeholders to feed in and achieve all the other goals for the 2022-2026 strategic plan.

Prof. Njuguna termed this year’s graduation (386 masters students and 26 doctorate students) as the most improved number of graduands especially in Doctor of Clinical Psychology and Masters of Arts in Communication Studies.

He explained the support and services offered by SGSRE to graduate students which include teaching and training them in grant and proposal writing, providing them with data analytics, networking opportunities through the Graduate Connect event and ethical review of research including Bio-medical related research (accredited by National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation-NACOSTI).

He also mentioned that SGSRE has partnered with Placement and Career Services (PACS) to use evidence driven approaches through action research to be able to connect graduate and undergraduate students to the labor market.

On publications, Prof. Njuguna said that although the school achieved 91% in publishing high impact research publication in credible sources, they are confident that they will meet the 800-publication threshold within the current strategic plan, adding that they plan to enroll in the Times Higher Education rankings.

On external funding, SGSRE exceeded their target by 29% to bring in Ksh. 365,443,243 with an average grant period of 20 months against the set target of 260 million Kenya shillings. Some of the notable projects include:

  • USAID Empowered Youth Project- that seeks to increase economic opportunities for youth, strengthen capacity of TVETS and help create youth service systems.
  • Market and Value Chain Assessment for Refugee Livelihoods in Nairobi Metropolitan Area report commissioned by UNHCR
  • A project spearheaded Prof. Francis Wambalaba (Professor of Economics) in partnership with YARA to test its social impact in six countries- Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana Indonesia and India.
  • Partnership with NCBA to develop content for their youth entrepreneurs.
  • Network of Impact Evaluation Researchers in Africa (NIERA) that promotes research driven initiatives in East Africa- Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
  • Kura Yako Sauti Yako led by Dr. Scott Bellows, Assistant Professor, Management
  • Center of Excellence in Pharmaceutical Innovations & Analysis (CEPIA) led by Prof. Lincon Munyendo, Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutics.
  • Grant to boost the Agribusiness Center focusing on food security won by Salome Asena, Senior Research Officer
  • Collaboration for Inclusive Development Research that focuses on global north- global south partnerships in education, policy, publishing among other things.
  • Center for Data Analytics set in the School of Humanities and Social Science building- 40pax capacity lab equipped with modern computers for coding, data visualization, quantitative social sciences, qualitative data analysis (NVIVO) among others funded by the Africa Development Bank.

Prof. Njuguna also mentioned the various innovations that are taking place in the Innovation and Incubation Center- Freida Brown Student Center- 3rd floor, headed by Dr. Scott Bellows. This year alone, there have been seven startups formulated and 21 trainings conducted on different topics. Some of the remarkable startups that were formulated in the center include purefresh that provides clean water and has so far employed 200 people with operations across four counties. Additionally, through the center, one of our students was a finalist in the Boabab Summit Social Venture that took place in Kigali, Rwanda.

Prof. Njuguna said that more can be done to improve the university’s research profile, he pointed the following as crucial to deal with for the effective and efficient realization of our 2022-2026 strategic plan, specifically Goal 2;

  • Low response to research calls through strategic team creation, efficiency in administration, SOP
  • Productivity of Internal Grants through M&E, Commitment & Responsiveness& Connection to Policy
  • Barriers to Publications through training, funding & mentorship – early, mid and advanced researcher
  • Stiff Competition for Research Funds through Strategic Partnerships, Spotlighting, Agility and focus on Critical Problems facing the African Continent
  • Plagiarism in Graduate Research
  • Internal Bureaucracies in HR, finance Low Publicity of Research Outputs
  • Low response to research calls through strategic team creation, efficiency in administration, SOP
  • Productivity of Internal Grants through M&E, Commitment & Responsiveness& Connection to Policy
  • Barriers to Publications through training, funding & mentorship – early, mid and advanced researchers.

Going forward, Prof. Njuguna said that SGSRE will give operational support and focus in the following areas to enhance research and scholarship opportunities.

  • Research Bee Line strategy- subscribe to a specific portal to inform on any grant opportunities that match our goals and objectives.
  • Publication Boot Camps, with mentors, editors, statisticians among others
  • Multi-disciplinary and multi-country research
  • Agenda setting forums to identify research areas that funders are interested in
  • Impact trainings, M&E and grant writing
  • Scientific communication and spotlighting researchers
  • Greater engagement with the media, colloquia and online presence.

He concluded his presentation by thanking the Management Board, Faculty, Marketing and Communications department, Human Resource department, Student Affairs, Finance Division, student interns and Ms. Virginia Thuku, Academic Advisor and the entire university community for their immense support.

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