Instrumental Access 2020

University of Energy & Natural Resources

Department of Chemical Sciences

In Ghana, finding affordable solutions for environmental health

  • A section of undergraduate students undertaking extraction experiment

    Undergraduate students work on extraction experiments in the lab at UENR

  • All staff members of the Department of Chemical Sciences and HoD of Basic and Applied Biology (4th from left)

    Members of the Department of Chemical Sciences  at UENR

  • Dr. Selina Saah supervising ongoing lab section involving level 200 students

    Dr. Selina Saah supervises students in the lab

  • Mr. Patrick Opare showing a group of level 300 students how to do extractions with the Soxhlet apparatus

    Mr. Patrick Opare Sakyi demonstrates how to do extractions with the separatory funnel

  • Mr. Patrick Opare teaching a lab section to level 300 students

    Mr. Patrick Opare Sakyi teaches a lab section to level 300 students

Meet our Awardee

The University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) was established by the Ghanaian government in 2011. Its mission is to provide leadership and management of energy and natural resources through interdisciplinary approaches.

The Department of Chemical Sciences at UENR currently offers a BSc program in Chemistry while also providing foundational chemistry and biochemistry education to students from other departments.

Research Areas

Environmental monitoring, heavy metal remediation, antimicrobial resistance, nanomaterials for water treatment, food fraud, energy fraud, and the synthesis and characterization of biologically active compounds
Your equipment donations will go a long way to enhance research and improve practical teaching. This will help us to produce well-rounded graduates who are ready to compete globally."
-Dr. Ismaila Emahi, Lecturer of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UENR

Removing Heavy Metals from Water: Ismaila Emahi, PhD

As a result of illegal mining activities, many of Ghana's rivers and streams have become contaminated with heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium, lead, and mercury.

These metals can be toxic and carcinogenic to humans, as well as to wildlife and the environment. They pose a particularly serious health risk to the communities that rely on rivers for domestic and agricultural use.

Because they don't biodegrade, heavy metals have to be removed to make water safe. Existing technologies to do this are cost-prohibitive to use in developing countries like Ghana.

Dr. Ismaila Emahi

Dr. Ismaila Emahi

Biological chemist Ismaila Emahi, PhD, Lecturer of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UENR, is determined to find an affordable and effective way to clean up his country's waterways. 

"While the government and stakeholders are taking measures to halt these illegal mining activities, I am interested in taking a novel approach to develop cheap and sustainable approaches for removing toxic metals from the environment and making sure the affected communities get access to clean water," says Dr. Emahi.

For the past two years, he has been experimenting with use of biofilters made from plant matter to clean the water. The approach does show promise, but it isn't selective. In addition to the pollutants, it also removes minerals that are important components of healthy drinking water, like calcium and magnesium . 

As a next step, Dr. Emahi hopes to use equipment from Instrumental Access to develop DNA aptamers to selectively remove heavy metals while leaving other minerals in place. Aptamers are single-stranded sequences that can selectively bind specific molecules; they were also a key aspect of Dr. Emahi's PhD dissertation research.

"This research has the potential to create cheap and user-friendly tools to help millions of people in the developing world gain access to safe water," says Dr. Emahi.

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University of Energy & Natural Resources
With Seeding Labs equipment, we will be better equipped to teach practical lessons and partner with other researchers in cross-discipline research. It place us in a position to win international grants and improve our impact on society."
-Dr. David Adu-Poku, Lecturer in Chemistry and Head of the Department of Chemical Sciences at UENR

About the Department

Location: Sunyani, Ghana
Year Established: 2014
Students Impacted Annually: 330

Shipment Status

Arrived on campus March 2020

Why Instrumental Access?

Equipment will fuel research on issues such as clean energy, environmental monitoring, remediation, and nanotechnology.

It will also enable the department to expand practical teaching opportunities in ways that had previously been impossible due to lack of equipment. The Department of Chemical Sciences currently shares a teaching lab with two other departments.

A well-equipped lab will help the department realize its goal to launch two new degree programs: a BSc in Biochemistry and a Masters in Chemistry.

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About Instrumental Access

Instrumental Access empowers scientists in developing countries. It gives them the resources they need to pursue life-changing research and teach the next generation.

To begin, we identify a pipeline of scientific talent. Then we rigorously screen universities and select those with the most potential to advance education and research through Instrumental Access.