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Investing in Africa’s future: The JWO Research Grant enters its 5th year of funding African scientists.

South Africa, 2023 – Since its inception, the Jennifer Ward-Oppenheimer Research Grant has awarded $600 000 to African researchers pursuing solutions to the continent’s environmental issues.

Widely referred to as the JWO Research Grant, the grant is fondly named after Jonathan Oppenheimer’s late wife, who devoted her life’s work to philanthropic support in education, health and later sustainable ecology.

With over 1000 applications since its inception and yearly increasing numbers, the grant is able to address the need for inclusive early-career scientist funding on the continent.

The grant is an important initiative that seeks to support early-career African researchers focused on innovative research that will contribute to the advancement of environmental and allied sciences; and address relevant, real-world, African issues of current and future importance.

Previous recipients such as Dr Gideon Idowu of Nigeria are looking at the potential impact of microplastic pollution not only in terms of the ocean where research has been substantial, but also in Africa’s freshwater systems. What are their short- and long-term effects to the human body?

Dr Idowu believes that “Beyond the unesthetic scenes that plastic waste creates in the environment, we want to provide evidence in their effects in creating microplastics and endocrine disrupting chemicals, which potentially impair growth and reproduction in species. We believe that the findings will further compel policy makers to take real actions to reduce the disposal of plastic wastes”.

Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation Head, Dr Duncan Mcfadyen says that “The grant showcases cutting-edge, innovative scientific research ideas and provides a platform to foster and support Africa’s most brilliant minds. By so doing, it contributes African voices into global conversations on environment and sustainability. The work pitched here is cutting-edge, innovative scientific research, that often has the expert panellists in feverish anticipation of who will ultimately walk away with the prize”.

Grant Legibility

The lead applicant should be an early career African scientist1, who has strong links to a credible2 African institution3 and is proposing to conduct research on the continent. The 2023 JWO Research Grant is encouraging trans-disciplinary research applications that seek solutions to challenges in Africa.

  1. The applicant must hold a degree (PhD, equivalent or higher qualification), and should have no more than seven years of work and/or research experience post-degree (excluding career breaks, including family-related breaks).
  • The institution must have a proven ability to manage funding and subscribes to good financial grant practice.
  • The institutional affiliation may be academic, research, government, NGO and for-profit organisation.

Grant Award

The 2023 JWO grant of $150,000 (USD) will be awarded to one successful applicant. The grant will support a research programme of up to three years. There will be an annual call for new applications1, and the grant recipient will be announced at the Oppenheimer Research Conference The funds will be distributed in agreed tranches, based on satisfactory progress as measured against agreed milestones.

To apply for the grant, please follow this link –