Instrumental Access 2016
Embu University College: Department of Biological Sciences
Meet the Department
Founded in 2012 as part of the Kenyan government’s initiative to expand access to higher education, Embu University College is a constituent college affiliated with the University of Nairobi (also a Seeding Labs partner). The Department of Biological Sciences offers three BSc degree programs, five Master’s programs, and a number of PhD programs. In addition, the department trains undergraduates from other schools across the university, namely, Education and Agriculture.
Learning from the Ecology of Extreme Environments: Dr. Romano Mwirichia
Soda lakes—naturally occurring, highly alkaline lakes—are considered some of the planet’s most extreme aquatic environments and are often highly productive ecosystems.
They are home to a diverse array of microbes that Dr. Romano Mwirichia, senior lecturer at Embu University College, is studying.
Understanding how these microorganisms survive in extreme environments could have benefits far beyond microbiology. “These little bugs have a lot of influence on life at macro scale,” he says.
Dr. Mwirichia is also studying the impact of climate change on microbial diversity and function, which “will help us predict the impact of climate change on ecosystem productivity and health,” he says.
At Embu, “we have highly-trained scientists who lack the tools to deliver quality training,” he says. “Despite our advanced training in some of the the best labs in the world, on returning back home we have to contend with poorly equipped labs (if luckily one exists) or start from zero like my situation. Access to more equipment will enable us to engage in research that can help address the unique problems we have in the local settings. The equipment donation from Seeding Labs could not have come at a better time than now.”
Dr. Mwirichia has trained around the world. After earning his PhD from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in 2009, he held postdoctoral positions at Yale University in the US, Georg-August-Universität-Göttingen in Germany, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.