This June Youth Month we shine the spotlight on the drive for diversity at the apex of the science ecosystem in Africa by showcasing young women scientists driving change in their respective environments. The momentum is getting stronger as more and more women display vigour across industry sectors in challenging the status quo that relegates them to the periphery of advancements in science. Meet Mozambican researcher Alsácia Atanásio Nhacumbe. (Source: Noticias)
Although women are in the majority of the world population, there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equity in all sectors of industry. The science and technology space is no exception. However, Africa is blessed with a number of women scientists who are blazing the trail across industry sectors. The Republic of Mozambique is home to one such icon in Alsácia Atanásio Nhacumbe. Nhacumbe is a fervent supporter of efforts to ensure that more and more girls enter the STEM fields. “I would like to see an increase in the enrolment of girls in Science and Engineering courses,” she says.
She is the winner of a “Scientist of the year 2020” award in the Veterinary Sciences category of a competition promoted by the International Achievements Research Centre (IARC), an institution based in the United States of America. The jury evaluated Nhacumbe’s potential and history, as well as the scientific value and impact of her work. “The impressive achievements that she has demonstrated all these years, together with her commitment to excellence, led us to recognise her as the 2020 winner in the category of Veterinary Sciences,” the jury writes in a congratulatory letter.
As the winner of a competition which evaluated the work of researchers from around the world over the last three years, the Mozambican researcher gained the right to publish her scientific articles in the “International Tribune” section on the official IARC website. The IARC, based in Chicago, Illinois, USA, promotes professionals from all over the world in areas such as science, education, industry, business and technology.
Nhacumbe graduated as a Veterinary Physician from the Medical University of Southern Africa (MEDUNSA), South Africa, and holds a post-doctorate degree in Molecular Biology from the Federal University of Baía, Brazil. She led research in parasitology at the Mozambican National Institute for Veterinary Research (INIVE), having also served as Executive Director of the National Research Fund (FNI). Since 2015, Nhacumbe has been the director of the Mozambican National Centre for Biotechnology and Biosciences (CNBB), a public research institution under the Ministry of Science and Technology, Higher and Technical Vocational Education (MCTESTP).
Nhacumbe is also one of two Mozambican scientists whose history was published by the Network of Academies of African Sciences (NASAC) in 2017, in a book entitled “Women in Science – Inspiring Stories from Africa”, aimed at encouraging young people to study Natural Sciences and Engineering. Alsácia considers Prof. Maria Isabel Fazendeiro, from the Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal, as her role model.