Thunder Bay

Experimental Lakes Area to partner with African researchers in 2022

A new program could bring up to a dozen young, female scientists to the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in northwestern Ontario, who usually conduct their research on the other side of the globe.

Program aims to bring up to 12 young women to Experimental Lakes Area

Ted Lawrence is the executive director of the African Centre for Aquatic Research and Education. The group hopes to bring 12 young women, who are scientists and students in Africa, to learn about aquatic research at the Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario. (Supplied by Ted Lawrence)

A new program in northwestern Ontario could bring up to a dozen young, female scientists, who usually conduct their research on the other side of the globe, to the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) .

The African Centre of Aquatic Research and Education, which is affiliated with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) , will have researchers work on an exchange of sorts at the ELA, also operated by the IISD.

The program is a first, starting up about two years ago, but was halted by the pandemic, as those taking part in the ten-month course were unable to travel.

"There's a lot of gender inequality in Africa, but especially when you get to the sciences. So, what we've seen in Africa is there is a big disparity and within that disparity is an entire perspective that you're losing from these women," said Ted Lawrence, the executive director of the African Centre of Aquatic Research and Education and a senior policy advisor for the IISD.

Aline Munundu Mangaza works on a boat on the African Great Lakes, with the African Center for Aquatic Research & Education. The lakes hold 25 percent of the world's freshwater. (Supplied by Ted Lawrence)

The researchers, he said, all have experience working on the African Great Lakes — a chain of seven lakes that contain 25 percent of the world's freshwater.

"The African Great Lakes are tropical in nature, and ours are temperate. But, a lot of the approaches in science are similar and that's where we're making the connections. How do we approach these large bodies of water, with what equipment, with which direction."

The overall goal of the program is to progress the studies and careers of young, female scientists and to give them more perspective of how women are involved in the sciences.

Sharon Gubamwoyo is a scientist who works on the African Great Lakes, and is part of the African Center for Aquatic Research & Education program that wants to bring up to 12 young women from the African Great Lakes area to the Experimental Lakes area. (Supplied by Ted Lawrence)

"It sounds like we're giving the women a lot, but these women, these students and early career women will be bringing the experience and perspective of working on large African lakes to our experts here, so it will be a give and take."

"And we're going to expose them to some of the infrastructure and the sciences and approaches that we have on the North American Great Lakes, and the lakes in the Experimental Lakes Area. So we hope this will be the first time that we have this massive influx of African scientists." 

Lawrence will make a presentation Thursday night to Rotary clubs in Dryden, Kenora and Sioux Lookout, which could lead to the club's sponsoring some of the young women to come to Canada as part of the program.

A group of young African scientists could spend part of next summer at the Experimental Lakes Area near Kenora. It's an opportunity to share knowledge and culture. Hear about the international exchange 6:37

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.

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