ISP news 2019

Book Partnership with Physics Today

31 October 2019

The access to updated academic literature, both in libraries and online databases, remains an issue in many developing countries, due to poor ICT infrastructure and lack of funds. Since 1999, a collaboration between ISP and the magazine Physics Today has contributed to stocking libraries with newer and more current physics books.

Recently, the Department of Physics at Makerere University, Uganda received a book shipment.

The American Institute of Physics’ (AIP) member magazine Physics Today annually receives a large amount of books sent by book publishers for the magazine’s New Books list. Through the initiation of a collaboration between the magazine and ISP in 1999, these books are now donated to Physics Departments in developing countries. AIP packs and arranges the shipping of more than 100 books every few months, and ISP covers the shipping costs (amounting yearly to about $9,500).

Since the start, 76 book consignments have been arranged to 35 universities in 26 countries including: Antiqua, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Ethiopia, Eritrea Ghana, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Laos, Mali, Myanmar, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, Zambia.

This partnership is a small but important contribution to improve students’ and researchers’ access to updated academic literature in physics.

ISP 2018 Annual Report now available

17 September 2019

The ISP 2018 Annual Report is now available, in full and in summary!

Key results for 2018 include:

  • Support to 43 research groups and 19 scientific networks, together graduating 69 PhD and 228 MSc students (88 and 98% in local programs) and disseminating more than 900 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.
  • The 2018 tracer study, covering 250 of the 259 PhD graduates 2014-2017 found that 95% of the PhD graduates are employed in their home countries (89%) and regions (6%), most of them at universities and research institutes.
  • ISP’s Gender Equality Grants constitute a successful strategy with the potential to attract more of women students to basic sciences on a longer term. In 2018, African women mathematicians and physicists have initiated a regional network named the Eastern Africa Network for Women in Basic Science (EANWoBAS).

ISP Annual Report

ISP Annual Report Summary

Algae Paper filter could save lives

26 August 2019

Researchers from Uppsala University, Sweden and Dhaka University, Bangladesh have developed a paper filter from algae that can be used to prevent numerous potentially deadly water-borne infections in Bangladesh.

Access to clean and safe water is a critical issue in Bangladesh and affordable point-of-use water treatment strategies are therefore needed. Swedish and Bangladeshi researchers have now discovered that locally growing Pithophora algae in Bangladesh can be used for manufacturing affordable and efficient paper filters for water treatment applications. Lab experiments and real-life tests have demonstrated excellent pathogen removal clearance for both water-borne bacteria and viruses with efficiency above 99.999 percent.

Prof Khondkar Siddique-e-Rabbani, Bangladeshi coordinator and ISP group leader at Dhaka University,  says: “Access to clean water will contribute strongly to improved health thus reducing poverty. We are optimistic that through future development of devices the filter paper produced from the locally growing algae will be useful to prevent potentially deadly water-borne diseases and improve the quality of life for millions of people”.

UU Press Release

ISP new coordinator in UR-Sweden program

12 August 2019

From 1 July 2019 until 1 July 2024, ISP will coordinate the Swedish side of the Bilateral Research Cooperation with University of Rwanda (UR). In total, 14 Swedish partner universities are involved in this 4th program phase of the Research Cooperation. ISP is taking over the coordination responsibility from the previous Swedish Coordinator Institution Linköping University.

Dr Bengt-Ove Turesson
Picture: UR-Sweden

Dr Bengt-Ove Turesson will remain as the Overall Swedish Coordinator, now employed by ISP. Further, he will be Assistant Program Director of ISP's Mathematics Program (IPMS). We warmly welcome Bengt-Ove to the ISP team! Administrative and financial issues in the UR Bilateral Research Program will be handled by Ms Therese Rantakokko.

Information about the UR Bilateral Research Cooperation can soon be found at:

More info UR-Sweden Program

AiBST helps ministry to identify cyclone idai victims in Zimbabwe  

12 April 2019

The tropical Cyclone Idai has caused catastrophic damages in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe since it struck Southeastern Africa on March 14, 2019. In the eastern part of Zimbabwe, the storm has destroyed villages and communities, resulting in thousands of displaced people, hundreds killed and hundreds still missing. Researchers from the African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology (AiBST) are contributing with their skills in DNA profiling to help the Government to identify victims.

The ISP supported African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology (AiBST) is the first DNA testing center in Zimbabwe. AiBST has been called in as a technical partner to the Ministry of Health and Child Care in the country to assist with the identification of unidentified dead and start the process of looking for the missing by establishing a DNA database of their relatives.

- I have just spend 7 days with my team in the devastated communities collecting samples from the dead and from relatives, and have now brought them back to the lab for DNA profiling. There are still many trips to make back to the communities to collect samples as findings of the missing will be made. Whilst we are doing the little we can to help, the whole experience is beyond comprehension, says Prof Collen Masimirembwa, founder and President of AiBST.

ISP Alumni meeting in Ethiopia

21 March 2019

This evening, PhD graduates from ISP supported groups in Ehtiopia gathered at Ras Amba Hotel in Addis Ababa for an alumni meet. ISP staff and group leaders from chemistry, physics and mathematics got a chance to meet, eat and mingle with the former PhD graduates. All graduates who were present are currently working at universities in or around Addis.Thank you all for coming!

Are you an ISP graduate and would like to be invited to similar events in your country? Sign up here

Pravina Gajjar is retiring

13 March 2019

Pravina Gajjar started to work at ISP in January 1989. For 30 years, she has made sure that an uncountable number of fellows and students from all ISP programs had a smooth stay in Sweden and felt at home whenever they were here.

Pravina has always enjoyed to travel the world. She is born in Tanzania, trained as a nurse in the UK and moved to Sweden for love (not for the weather) in 1973. She started her career at Uppsala University at the Unit for Primary Health Care, but soon realized she missed an international component in her work. In 1988, she interviewed for a job at ISP and knew from that instance that this was her position.

If you compare ISP then and now, what is different?
Oh, of course almost everything is different when it comes to the administration. But what has remained the same is the handling of students – the personal contact and giving the best service you can. I have always tried to make sure that the students feel at home when they are here. They should focus on their research and studies and not worry about their family and other things.

What has been the best thing with ISP?
It has been amazing to work with people from other countries and cultures. It has really enriched my daily life. I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to work at ISP. I will of course miss all the students and staff at ISP.

What will you do now?
I will start with taking in the fact that I now have vacation full-time. Then my wish is to travel the world with my husband Janne!

Pravina, thank you for your time at ISP!  You will be missed!

Fighting the gender gap in science

8 March 2019, International Women's Day

“Mathematical and natural sciences have long and honorable traditions of participation by highly creative women contributors. However, the percentages of women scientists remain shockingly low and there is a significant gender gap at all levels between women and men” according to the Gender Gap in Science Project.

Recognizing the needs and the importance of addressing the gender gap in Science, ISP has increased its efforts to promote gender equality. In 2017, a gender equality grant was established for groups and networks (in physics and mathematics) giving them the possibility to apply for earmarked, locally designed and organized activities for improving gender balance and equality at their own institutions. Since then, 17 grants have been allocated allowing a variety of activities, like summer schools for high school students, PhD scholarships for female candidates, mentorship programs, tuition fees for MSc students, and workshops for university students and personnel.

ISP supported partners report that these efforts have already resulted in improvements. ISP is well aware about the importance to keep the continuity of this work, and plans to increase the funding from 2020 to further boost the impact.

Summer school at Uppsala University in 2016 to the left, and mentorship program at Univeristy of Nairobi to the right.
Summer school at Uppsala University to the left, and physics mentorship program at University of Nairobi to the right.

In 2016, ISP organized a “gender summer school” at Uppsala University jointly with Department of Physics, and Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. The main goal of the summer school was to promote mentorship and networking between young and senior (female) scientists, something that immediately yielded results. Female scientists from ISP supported activities met each other for the first time at this gathering and have now initiated the Eastern Africa Network for Women in the Basic Sciences (EANWoBAS). This network will receive ISP core funding from 2019, and is the first ISP supported network of this kind.

Read more about our partners and the great work they are doing to improve gender equality.

Dr Samiji in Tanzania 

Dr Dehayem in Kenya

Dr Nannyonga in Uganda

new IPMS administrator

24 January 2019

Meet Chris Bengtsson - the new administrative assistant to the mathematics program!

Chris holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Studies from Birmingham City University, UK. He is an experienced purchasing manager previously working in retail in Cyprus. In 2014, he moved to Sweden and has since been taking courses at Linköping University. At ISP, Chris will administrate the mathematics program (IPMS), replacing Pravina Gajjar who is retiring in March.

-I’m thrilled for the opportunity to be part of ISP. I look forward to acquiring new knowledge and skills and at the same time contribute to the significant cause of this program. I am very excited to start working with my new colleagues, to meet new interesting people and get familiar with new cultures!


new network support in 2019 - a push for gender equality

We are happy to announce that ISP will support the newly initiated Eastern Africa Network for Women in Basic Sciences (EANWoBAS), started by ISP graduate and mathematician Dr Betty Nannyonga.

The network consist of female researchers in mathematics and physicist from universities in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. With the belief and slogan “basic sciences for all” the network envisions to be leading in creating gender balance representation in the basic sciences, on all levels from primary to tertiary education in East Africa.

- We need to create a firm base of fast thinking female scientists, because when you train a woman, you train a nation. Cultural and social barriers are hindering girls from pursuing science, and the myth that math is hard and most suitable for boys is one that needs to be permanently killed, says network initiator Betty Nannyonga.


ISP is looking forward to following and take part of the network’s important work, starting with an awareness creating marathon for gender equality in Kampala in March 2019.

More about the network

Last modified: 2021-10-13