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ISP News 2021

ISP annual report for 2020

June 23, 2021

The ISP 2020 Annual Report including appendices are now available.

Picture: ISP staff Carla Puglia and Ernst van Groningen with staff and students (mostly women) from the ISP supported group in physics (IPPS MYA:01) at University of Mandalay, Myanmar in January 2020.

Two new members in ISP Board

ISP welcomes HE Prof Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (Former President of the Republic of Mauritius) and Prof Tom Britton (Dept of Mathematics, Stockholm University, Sweden) as new ISP Board members.

At the same time ISP would like to express its sincere gratitude to the two outgoing Board members HE Prof Mohamed Gharib Bilal (Former Vice President of Tanzania) and Prof Peter Brzezinski (Stockholm University, Sweden) for the time served in the ISP Board.

Prof Gurib-Fakim, who are you?

- I am a Chemist by training and have a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Exeter, UK. I have spent my academic career at the University of Mauritius. As the first woman Professor, I have served as Dean of the Faculty of Science, Deputy Vice Chancellor.

During my academic days, I worked on Herbal medicine and Traditional knowledge systems, creating the first database on the IKS (Indigenous Knowledge Systems) of my country and the surrounding region. I also coedited the first African Herbal Pharmacopoeia. I have published several scientific papers, books and book chapters both locally and internationally. After retiring from my academic position I translated my research data into an enterprise with a vision to produce innovative ingredients for industry in the pharma, cosmetic and food sectors. Finally in 2014, I was voted as the first ever female president of the Republic of Mauritius until 2018.

Why did you want to work with ISP?

- I was appointed on the Reference Group for Chemistry in 2008 until 2014. I am aware of the running of this group and also on the vision and mission of the ISP. It is a commendable effort on behalf of the Swedish Government.

What are your expectations of this work?

- ISP has been going on for several decades and has established itself as a credible partner for many universities/institutions in the developing world and focus countries of Sweden. I think ISP will keep consolidating its efforts in the promotion of the culture of science which is badly needed and especially if we are to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.

Something you would like to add?

- Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of the need for a strong science base especially in policy making. I hope that one of the priority areas for ISP will be to help promote science communication.

Thank you for your time, Prof Gurib-Fakim!

Prof Britton, who are you?

- I´m a Professor in Mathematical statistics and also the Dean of Mathematics-Physics Division at Stockholm University, Sweden. My main research interest is infectious disease modelling and data analysis.

Why did you want to work with ISP?

- I have a strong interest improve higher education and research in low and lower-middle income countries. I have been in the ISP reference group for Mathematics for about 15 years. I have also supervised four PhD students within ISP.

What are your expectations of this work?

- It will be interesting to see ISP activities from a different perspective.

Something you would like to add?

- A problem I have noted are the two funding sources: ISP Core programme and the Sida bilateral research programs. It would be good if these were better "connected".

Thank you for your time, Prof Britton!

List of all ISP Board members

ANders, Hugo and maria

In the first sentence of his inaugural speech Vice-Chancellor Anders Hagfeldt mentioned his ISP supported PhD students Hugo and Maria from Peru. But what are Maria and Hugo doing today? What do they think about Uppsala University´s new Vice-Chancellor and about ISP?

Prof Hugo Alarcón Cavero

Prof María Quintana

Prof María Quintana, what do you do today?

- After finishing my postdoc with Anders´ solar cells group, I came back to my country, Peru. I started working at my former university, National University of Engineering, as researcher and teacher. I got a position as Professor teaching thermodynamics.

My research on renewable energy allowed me to obtain a new position in another university, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, where I am the Director of Studies of Environmental Engineering.

I work in both universities researching and teaching.

What kind of research do you conduct?

- My research group is “Urpunano”, quechua word that means “Make nano”. I'm advisor of master and doctoral students, who works on dye solar cells, light emitting diodes and in the last years making graphene for environmental applications.

What did ISP support mean to you as a PhD student?

- It was crucial. Without the support of ISP I couldn’t have started my PhD studies. In my country, it was so difficult get a scholarship for doctoral studies, specially being a married woman with children.

Some comments about Prof Anders Hagfeldt as your supervisor?

- He is an extremely talented professional and an amazing person. He always had great input to help my work, but with the right words to make it easy to understand from the very first explanation. He was always really helpful and willing to listen when the time was there, and I couldn't be more grateful for all the help he gave me.

Something you would like to add?

- I think ISP, gave me the opportunity to go to Sweden to start my PhD studies, something I could not have done in my country at that moment. I'm sure there are many foreign students that took this opportunity ISP was giving, and now are working in their own countries.

I appreciate a lot the help Pravina and Hossein (ISP staff; editor´s note) gave me every time I went to Sweden.

I think If I went to another country to do my doctoral studies I might have failed or maybe I wouldn't have finished. In Sweden, not only did I learn about science, I learned about equality, about being environmentally conscious, about helping others in disadvantage, and about to sharing knowledge with everybody, just like Anders Hagfeldt did.

Thank you for your time, Prof Quintana!

Prof Hugo Alarcón Cavero, what do you do today?

- I am a principal professor of the National University of Engineering in the Department of Chemistry of Faculty of Science, where I give lectures about physicochemistry and materials science at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Furthermore, I am the leader of GISMA (Synthesis research of advanced materials) group which are made up by Master and Doctoral students. 

What kind of research do you conduct?

- Nowadays, my research is focused on the synthesis of novelty materials, with particular focus on metallic oxides by electrochemical methods, Sol-gel, dip coating among other techniques for applications in: water treatment by electrochemical methods, hydrogen generation by water splitting and reduction of CO2 for the generation of alcohols.

What did ISP support mean to you as a PhD student?

- The support given by ISP was very important and it meant for me a take off at a professional level, especially as a researcher. Indeed, it allowed me to know a different way of conducting a research, being part of a group in Uppsala with Prof. Anders was incredible because I was able to establish direct communication with high level researchers, with which I gained a lot of experience with their knowledge as well as experience with the lab equipment. On another side, an important aspect was the social part that allowed me to know a different country with a different culture to generate good friends. 

Some comments about Prof Anders Hagfeldt as your supervisor?

- Prof. Anders, was and continues to be a good person and an excellent researcher, he was always attentive to the discussions and needs to carry out the project in such a way as to culminate with the objectives set in the research project. Besides, I always had the best attention to any detail that I needed for being a foreign student guiding me in the courses that I could take in such a way to efficiently complete my studies. I am very grateful to both Prof. Anders and the research group for the way I was treated academically and personally.

Something you would like to add?

Unfortunately, the support provided by ISP was cut short in 2007, which led to the culmination of the academic exchange that was held. Perhaps it could be resumed in some way through some agreements that allow students from Peru to access in some way to carry out exchange studies or short stays.

Thank you for your time, Prof Alarcón Cavero!

ISP news 2020


It is with great sadness that we announce that Prof Krishna Garg passed away the evening of December 10. Our sincere condolences go to his wife Alice and the family.

Krishna was a colleague and friend who passionately helped many of ISP supported groups in physics to establish education programs and equip experimental laboratories.

Krishna started his interaction and collaboration with ISP already as a young scientist when he participated in the Physics Seminars in 1971/1972. As an established researcher/professor at the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India, Krishna devoted himself with passion to help new groups in establishing their research capability. His work in Laos and Cambodia was fundamental for the development of ISP Physics (IPPS) supported groups in these countries. During the last decades he was also a highly-valued member of the IPPS reference group, where he contributed strongly to evaluating and guiding the research groups towards good science and good scientific practices.

The loss for us, colleagues and friends, is enormous and we all will miss his bright and sharp thoughts, his high personal integrity, his great ideals and his strong commitment for egalitarianism and peace.

Krishna, you will be deeply missed and remembered for ever. May you rest in peace.

Photo: Prof Krishna Garg at the IPPS reference group meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2008.

ISP´s Gender work

Recognizing the needs and the importance of addressing the gender gap in Science, ISP works hard to promote gender equality in supported groups and networks.

To make this work more visible, we have updated the ISP webpage with ISP and Gender. Here you can find a lot of good examples and best practices from ISP supported groups and networks.

If you want a fast update on the activities of the ISP Gender Equlity Grants activities for 2019, you can read the summary below.


10 September 2020

The ISP 2019 Annual Report including appendices are now available.

Read the short version in Summary of 2019 Annual Report.

Key results for 2019:

  • Support to 39 research groups and 17 scientific networks, together graduating 90 PhD (40% women) and 240 MSc students (33% women).
  • Disseminating more than 916 scientific papers as publications or at conferences.
  • Through ISP’s capacity building work and support to research of relevance to development challenges, ISP partners are contributing to several of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Gender Equality Grants constitute a successful strategy with the potential to attract more of women students to basic sciences on a longer term.  
Conference for female scientists organized at the National Polytechnic Institute in Yamousoukro, Ivory Coast.
Conference for female scientists organized at the National Polytechnic Institute in Yamousoukro, Ivory Coast.

New ISP Board Member

The new ISP board member is Ms Erika Dabhilkar, Director of the Division for Internationalisation at Uppsala University. She replaces Mr Kay Svensson who has moved on to new endeavors at Linnaeus University.

Erika started to work at Uppsala University in 2012. During her leadership the division has grown from 10 to 25 employees, reflecting an expansion of areas developed to offer administrative support worthy a modern “international office” to cater for the needs of the university’s ongoing internationalisation process.  ​

Erika, who are you?

A peace builder. To create opportunities to connect students, teachers and researchers internationally to help them achieve their respective goals, is my contribution to a better world. This is what I do, what I know and perhaps also who I am…? I have worked with internationalisation my whole life. Before joining Uppsala University, I worked in the private sector for 11 years connecting Scandinavian students with higher education institutions in English speaking parts of the world. Prior to that I worked as an international officer at the University of Gävle just north from Uppsala. 

Why did you want to work with ISP?

I have been following ISP:s outstanding work from a distance ever since I started working at the university in 2012. To build capacity and strengthen research networks as well as higher education through internationalisation is a vital part of any university’s DNA. If I can contribute ever so slightly in facilitating and developing that process in the areas where ISP is focusing on, I’m honored and humbled to do so.  

What are your expectations of this work?

It’s such a vast operation with so many activities but if I am to pick one specific expectation it would be this one; I know that ISP intends to focus on continued work to promote gender equality in the coming years. I expect increased visibility on activities carried out throughout the network within areas to support future female scientists in particular. 

Welcome Erika, it´s great to have you with us! 

List of all ISP board members.

Photo of Erika Dabhilkar

AiBST and the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe

The African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology (AiBST) is a private organisation (partly sponsored by ISP) and located at the Wilkins Infectious Disease Hospital in Zimbabwe. It is a center of excellence in drugs and diagnostics research and innovation in Genomic Medicine. AiBST is one of the Government of Zimbabwe designated SARS-CoV-2 testing laboratories in the fight against COVID-19.

Through the leadership of Dr Justen Manasa, a Medical Virologist at AiBST, a team of qualified volunteers from different sectors was assembled. The team comprises of medical laboratory scientists (Takudzwa Marembo, Frank Chinowaita, Prosper Chimbunde, Donald Vhanda, Solomon Mukwenha and Lovemore Hlamalo) and medical laboratory technicians (Alice Pedzisai, Frank Mangongo and Tinashe Mandisvodza). The volunteers came from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Harare City Council and Private sector laboratories. The team was activated in response to increasing demands for testing, which the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory was not going to be able to cope with.

Currently the AiBST lab is receiving samples from Wilkins hospital (one of the two infectious diseases hospitals in Harare), Rapid Response Teams serving Harare, quarantine facilities in Harare, hospitals, as well as other centres. Using 8-hours shifts, the lab has a capacity to test up to 200 samples per day, with a turnaround time within 72 hours.

Apart from testing, the AiBST team has been providing technical support to the National Coordinating team for the laboratory response to COVID-19. They have also been providing training on new testing protocols to ensure optimal utilisation of all testing consumables.  

Prof Masimirembwa, the President and Chief Scientific Officer of AiBST had this to say about AiBST’s contribution:  In times of national disasters such as this COVID-19 pandemic, it is both a responsibility and opportunity for science, scientists and research institutions like AiBST to rise to the challenge in service of humanity. I therefore highly commend Dr. Justen Manasa’s leadership and the selfless comminttment of the young scientists who have volunteered their expertise and time to fight the COVID-19 pandemic through diagnostics testing services.

AiBST infrastructure and technical capacity has been established through support of many organisaitons including the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science Technology, Innovation Development (MHTESTID), EDCTP, GHPP, ISP, SPARK GLOBAL, to name a few. This support is here acknowledged as a clear demonstration of the value of capacity building projects that have broader impact on society when confronted with health challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Laboratory Scientists at work at AiBST laboratories

Prof Ekanayake - IUPAC Fellow

ISP is proud to announce that Prof Sagarika Ekanayake has been appointed as a Fellow of the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

Prof Ekanayake is a renowned researcher in the field of biochemistry in Sri Lanka and she is serving as a Senior Professor at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. Prof Ekanayake has published over 65 research articles in international and national peer reviewed journals and over 190 abstracts on topics related to Food Chemistry, Applied Nutrition, Bioactivity studies and Clinical Biochemistry.

The research group initially led by Prof E R Jansz and then by Prof Ekanayake was until 2007 one of the beneficiaries of the ISP support in Sri Lanka.

ISP support to my department tremendously helped me and many other young researchers who were working under very resource limiting conditions to be trained in advanced research and obtain postgraduate qualifications. ISP funds were utilized to develop a research laboratory with many up-to-date equipment in the department which are still being used and also that many young researchers got opportunities to be trained at centers of excellence outside Sri Lanka under eminent researchers which enabled us to continue conducting research contributing to the development of the country and also to continue training more students both undergraduate and postgraduate. 

- Personally I attributes all my success as a researcher to the training obtained through ISP funding during my postgraduate work which enabled me to be trained under eminent scientists in various research institutes in Sweden.

Prof Ekanayake highly appreciates the support by Directors of ISP, starting with late Prof Rune Liminga who initiated supporting the SRI 07 project with Prof E R Jansz as the leader in 1996, Prof Malin Åkerblom during whose time she undertook the leadership of the project and current Director Dr Peter Sundin and all staff of ISP office for the continued excellent support throughout 1996 – 2007 and beyond.

ISP support to Sri Lanka and Thailand

ISP phased out groups and network

Professor Ekanayake

Dr Zeinab Noureddine Tag-Eldeen

We are very sad to announce that our dear colleague Dr Zeinab Noureddine Tag-Eldeen has passed away due to Covid-19. Our thoughts are with her family.

Zeinab was an Associate Professor at the Swedish Agriculture University (SLU), and has been coordinating Sida-funded capacity building programs with Ardhi University in Tanzania.

Zeinab was a beloved colleague as well as a popular supervisor for masters and PhD students.

the mathematics of the corona outbreak

18 March 2020

Prof Tom Britton at Stockholm University, Sweden, is a members of ISP Mathematics Reference group.

Listen to his fascinating lecture on the mathematics of the Corona outbreak at 


15 January 2020

ISP is happy to announce two new colleagues starting in February 2020. Deputy Program Director of the Physics Program Barbara Brena (left) and Project Coordinator Ulrica Ouline (right).


Barbara Brena – Deputy Program Director Physics

Associate Professor Barbara Brena currently works at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Uppsala University. Her research focuses on materials modeling for renewable energy sources, using theoretical soft x-ray spectroscopy. Her academic career did however start with experimental research at the synchrotron Elettra laboratory in Trieste, Italy, where she also origins from. Barbara currently serves on the Board of Uppmax (Uppsala Multidisciplinary Center for Advanced Computational Science), and previously as Member of the ISP Board and the Board for a non-profit organization working with education in developing countries (U3V). Barbara will, together with Program Director Carla Puglia, manage the Physics Program starting from 1 February. She will work 50% at ISP and devote the remaining time to research at the Department of Physics. 

- I am am very curious to start working in a new environment with such interesting projects and challenges. I am eager to meet my new colleagues and work together, and of course I am very excited to meet all the researchers from around the world and learn about their activities.

Contact: from 1 February 2020 

Ulrica Ouline – Project Coordinator

Ulrica Ouline works as an International Officer at the Division for Internationalisation at Uppsala University, where she is responsible for different projects in primarily Asia and Africa. She is an experienced project coordinator, who has been working closely with Uppsala University Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson for many years. She has organized and coordinated several international projects, conferences, events and visits. Previously, she has been working as a upper secondary school teacher in history, religion and development studies in Uppsala. At ISP she will replace Rebecca Andersson, working with communication, follow-up, strategic development and Alumni coordination starting from 5 February on 50%. She will remain half-time at the Division for Internationalisation. 

- I believe ISP is doing an excellent job in building research capacity in least developed countries and I´m very happy to start working here! I am looking forward to meeting new colleagues around the world.

Contact: from 5 February 2020

Last modified: 2021-06-23