International Studies & Programs

African Futures Feature Series: Dr. Deborah Ruth

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Published: Monday, 17 Feb 2020 Author: Alliance for African Partnership


_DSF2515.jpgDr. Deborah Ruth Amulen from Uganda is a lecturer at Makerere University, in the Department of Livestock and Industrial Resources. She obtained a Bachelors’ degree in Animal Production Technology and Management, then a Master’s of Science in Livestock Development Planning and Management, and later pursued a PhD in Applied Biological Sciences from Ghent University in Belgium, where she focused on applied beekeeping in the African context.

As part of the inaugural cohort of African Futures Research Leadership Program, Deborah is working under her mentors Dr. Eric Benbow in the Dept. of Entomology and Dr. Michael Ocaido in her home department at Makerere University. An alum of the Professional Fellows Program - Advancing Women Agribusiness Entrepreneurs, Deborah had already established herself as a promising early-career researcher, making her an ideal candidate to come to Michigan State University to train to become a research leader and begin to address the gender gap of researchers in Africa.

Deborah is deeply passionate about insect research, product development and community resource mobilization towards harnessing beneficial insects. This passion started at a young age, seeing as insects are a part of her food culture. Deborah was born and raised in a rural agro-pastoral community in Eastern Uganda (the Iteso) where insects are a part of the local diet. She says, “We eat crickets, termites, and black ants; it’s sad that such delicacies are not readily available due to many factors, such as seasonal and limited knowledge of how to multiply them locally. If I can get advanced skills and work with partners to ensure these nutritious protein sources remain available to our communities, I would be glad.”

Finding ways to ensure these nutritious protein sources remain available to African communities is exactly what Deborah will be doing here at MSU. Through conducting research on the topic of insect farming with food waste to produce an alternative protein source with the department of entomology, she will be applying her educational background and career interests to address the economic, nutritional and environmental needs of communities. Deborah will also be applying her culture to her research and time at MSU. She feels that to an institution like Michigan State University that embraces diversity, she can significantly contribute through lessons on how to live in rural communities. Deborah says, “when you see me now, you see me as postdoctoral fellow, this is not something that came easy.” Deborah’s story is of a girl in pursuit of a better life outside the marginal agro-pastoral rural livelihoods of Teso, Uganda. She worked hard for her education and the place she is now in her career, and she believes that she can bring a humble and diligent mindset to MSU and her research._DSF2510 (1).jpg

During and after her time doing research, among other things, Deborah hopes to contribute to the research world as a mentor for other hardworking and brilliant women in the field of science. She says that being a woman scientist in Africa is challenging. Most of her colleagues are taken up by family roles and drop out of research early. For women in Africa, it is difficult to balance family obligations and professional goals, but Deborah and the other scholars are proof that if you put your mind to something it is possible. To any women researchers who are struggling in the research world, Deborah says, “Passion, focus, and perseverance will lead you to your destination. Every discipline is good, it just needs concentration.”