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The Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer research grant commences its third year

Applications are open for the $150 000 JWO Research Grant for early-career scientists on the African continent.

Applications for the 2021 Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer (“JWO”) Research Grant, worth $150 000 (USD) are now open for submissions. The JWO Research 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.

The JWO Research Grant begins its third year with impressive momentum, having garnered more than 217 applications from researchers originating from 26 African countries in 2020. The third JWO Research Grant follows the awarding of the inaugural grant in 2019 to Dr Hayley Clements for her ground-breaking research in, ‘Quantifying the biodiversity planetary boundary for Africa,’ and the 2020 recipient, Dr Bernard Coetzee, who was awarded the grant for his work on ‘Reducing vector-borne disease risk by optimising artificial light expansion across Africa’.

The JWO Research Grant was founded in honour of the late Mrs Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer – who was passionate about preserving the continent’s natural heritage. The grant aims to continue her contribution to and love for Africa, the environment, and for pioneering science.

“We are delighted to continue to give tribute to Mrs Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer, preserve her legacy, and make known her lifelong vision of seeing research being at the forefront of developing solutions in conserving Africa’s natural heritage,” said Bridget Fury, Head of Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies. 

“We look forward to receiving ground-breaking research applications from entrants for the third JWO Research Grant. We are confident that the contributions will not only enhance how we better manage our natural environment but also ensure the continued advancement of science on our continent,” said Dr Duncan MacFadyen, Head of Research and Conservation at Oppenheimer Generations.

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 2021 JWO Research Grant is encouraging trans-disciplinary research applications that seek solutions to challenges in Africa.

1The 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).

2The institution must have a proven ability to manage funding and subscribes to good financial grant practice.

3The institutional affiliation may be academic, research, government, NGO and for-profit organisation.


The 2021 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 or a special event. The funds will be distributed in agreed tranches, based on satisfactory progress as measured against agreed milestones

1Previously funded research not eligible


No late submissions will be considered.


Special consideration will be given to empirical research that:

  • Advances the frontiers of knowledge within the chosen field.
  • Enables solutions to African challenges.
  • Exhibits scientific rigour and excellence.
  • Contributes to human capital development (e.g. mentorship, support, and professional development opportunities) for the next generation of researchers.
  • Involves trans-disciplinary collaboration with partners (preference intra-African) to leverage time, expertise, skills, materials, resources and reduce duplication.
  • Creates impact both during and beyond the grant period.
  • Displays knowledge of associated recent or on-going work on the continent.
  • Defines a clear plan for disseminating research outcomes both inside and outside the scientific community.
  • Endeavours to open access publications (popular and scientific).
  • Does not present unacceptable ethical or safety risks.


All applications must be submitted in English through an online portal at:

JWO website link to be included.

Online applications will open 31 May 2021 and the deadline for submission will be 30 June 2021. ONLY ONLINE APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED.

The application process will comprise of two stages –

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