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MMUST Hosts Newcastle University Doctorate Research Fellow as He Undertakes Field Research in Kenya

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology is hosting a Doctorate Research Fellow from Newcastle University, UK, as he undertakes his PhD fieldwork research in Kenya, courtesy of the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme.  The Doctorate Research Fellow, Mr. Julius Olumeh, was received on Thursday, 26th January 2023, by MMUST’s renowned Researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences, Dr. Dennis W. Ochieno who is his co-supervisor during his stay in Kenya.    

It is important to note that Dr. Ochieno will be co-supervising the student jointly with his supervisors from Newcastle University who include: Dr. Dave George, a senior lecturer and reader in precision agriculture, crop protection and integrated pest management; Dr. Kirsty Mclnnes, a researcher in molecular dynamics of crop, pest and disease  interactions for Integrated pest management; and Dr. Beth Clark, a social research scientist exploring evidence based methods in public perceptions motivating food choices, innovations and technology for sustainable production.


Mr. Julius Olumeh pays a courtesy call to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Solomon Shibairo.

In an effort to acquaint Mr. Olumeh with the University, he paid a number of courtesy calls to the Office of the Vice Chancellor and the Division of Planning, Research and Innovation (PRI), where he was received by Prof. Solomon Shibairo and Prof. Charles Mutai respectively. Speaking during the courtesy call to the Office of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Solomon Shibairo, gleefully welcomed Mr. Olumeh to MMUST and reassured him that he is in good hands.

“I am aware that the UK, in many other ways through the Kenya-UK Health Alliance, has been looking for partners. My vision is to see MMUST become a research University. We have embarked on a mission of ensuring that MMUST staff and students cultivate a culture of research that can directly impact on people’s lives. I will be delighted to engage in further conversations that will lead to the realization of this mission. We are happy to have you here, welcome to MMUST,” said Prof. Shibairo.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor (PRI), together with the Registrar (PRI), Prof. Alice Ndiema, also welcomed the researcher to MMUST, stating that they were delighted with this collaboration and added that they anticipated more partnerships.


Mr. Olumeh gifts MMUST staff Newcastle University-branded bags.

“We are a University that believes in research and collaboration. As our vision states, ‘To be the premier University in Science, Technology and Innovation’, research plays an important role in ensuring that we are the pace-setters. You have our full support and commitment towards this course, and we look forward to learning so much from Newcastle University as we explore other possible areas of collaboration,” stated Prof. Mutai.

Dr. Ochieno, who is also MMUST’s Coordinator of Webometrics and short courses, was happy to note that the team from Newcastle University found MMUST from a touch of a button. “Truly the website works,” he stated, adding that he is enthusiastic about working with the doctorate research fellow.

“Despite Mr. Olumeh being registered as a student at the University of Newcastle, we accept him as our own student, anchored at the Centre for African Medicinal and Nutritional Flora and Fauna (CAMNFF),” said Dr. Ochieno as he welcomed Mr. Olumeh to MMUST.

Speaking during the meetings, Mr. Olumeh briefed the attendees of his passion for agriculture entomology and crop protection for improved food security and sustainable production. He noted that his specialization is in Biocontrol of Invasive Pest, Sustainable Agriculture, Environment Conservation & Management as well as Biosciences sectors including: IPM in Crop and Animal Systems, Quarantine Protocol, Biocontrol agents, Biotechnology, Agribusiness and Agro-markets. Following this background, Mr. Olumeh stated that he will be in the country for two months where he will be working to develop bio-pesticide options for control of tomato pests and expanding horticultural farming into organic systems. His research will result in creation of better markets for African farmers as well as help them to reduce insecticide use, which he says has known health problems.

Mr. Olus2

Mr. Olumeh gives his remarks during a courtesy call with the Vice Chancellor.

“Newcastle University was keen on ensuring that I find a study partner who is closer to the study site, Bungoma County. As we searched for possible partners we could collaborate with, one of my supervisors, Dr. Dave George, who is a senior lecturer and reader in precision agriculture, crop protection and integrated pest management suggested that we find someone to work with in MMUST. As we searched through MMUST’s website, Dr. Ochieno’s profile popped up with very interesting and great publications on crop protection and entomology. We had a very in-depth discussion within the University on his work and how it aligns to mine and that caught the University’s interest which led to communication with the Office of the Vice Chancellor MMUST,” said Mr. Olumeh. He further revealed that Newcastle University is keen on developing partnerships and he looks forward to seeing more interactions between the two institutions.

Further, he commended Dr. Ochieno for being responsive towards their inquiries. He urged other Universities to respond in a timely manner to inquiries made from possible international partners, saying that this will be a game changer as we look to attract international collaborators.

Mr. Olumeh gifts MMUST3

The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Planning, Research and Innovation) gives remarks during a courtesy call at his office.

It is worth noting that the two (2) institutions are in pursuit of expanding this collaboration to go beyond Mr. Olumeh’s PhD fieldwork research. A move that will possibly see them work with other faculties such as the School of Medicine, considering the fact that Newcastle University was recently ranked first in cancer research in the UK.

“Newcastle University is big in cancer research. We were ranked number one in cancer research in the UK this year. This is also a very viable area for collaboration as you are expanding your school of medicine,” noted Mr. Olumeh. In response, Prof. Mutai acknowledged that his collaboration with MMUST is indeed the beginning of good things, and it is from here that MMUST will continue to build its niche in research.

MMUST has grown into a global player in academics, research and innovation and we can only achieve higher levels of standards by building progressive partnerships with well-established institutions such as the Newcastle University. Certainly, this is a sign of good things to come.

By Caren Nekesa

Photos by Shiundu Masafu 

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