STEM at Work – Perspectives from Research Careers

Report on July 2021 Community Call

Advancement in scientific careers often requires postgraduate degrees and research experience. In this month’s Community Call, we engaged in an extensive and expository discussion with top-level professionals working in different contexts – graduate school, teaching, and industry. 

Joining the call were members of the GLab Community and many students from the Department of Biochemistry Cell and Molecular Biology of the University of Ghana and beyond. The speakers were Dr Benjamin Owusu (Labcorp, USA) Dr Kwabena Sarpong (Lecturer, University of Ghana) Lois Damptey (PhD student, Open University UK), and Dr Patrick Osei-Owusu (Researcher, University of Chicago).

In an effort to address specific questions targeted at the needs of the audience, the discussion took a ‘question and answer’ approach. The session began with an eye-opening introduction from the speakers about their lives and career journeys, highlighting how they transitioned from their undergraduate degrees, through postgraduate education, to their current positions. 

Speakers sharing their educational and career journey

Diving into the first question ‘How can you make an impact with research?’, Dr Osei-Owusu shared his experience working on the Covid-19 vaccine development and how findings from the research were instrumental in developing safety protocols. He also emphasized the importance of choosing priority topics that have direct impact on human lives and communicating the findings from such research in a relatable manner. Dr Benjamin Owusu stressed the importance of enjoying the process of research. He shared that “ whether you are in the basic science stage of research or the translational stage, you are making an impact and it is relevant to enjoy the process”. 

Addressing the second question “What skills are critical for someone who wants to go into research?” Dr Benjamin Owusu mentioned critical thinking, curiosity and continuous learning as  essential skills for researchers. In addition to these skills hard work, collaboration and networking were noted to be key skills in successful research careers. Dr Kwabena Sarpong shared the ‘not-so-glamorous’ aspects of research and reiterated the essence of building resilience as a researcher. He also mentioned the importance of developing oral and written skills. In an age of information technology, he stated that it is important to have coding skills as it is evolving to be the basics for STEM.

Following this incisive discussion, the speakers went on to discuss the question ‘How is it like trying to get into graduate school in the US?’ The main points  highlighted include:

  • Starting early which translates into being intentional about the application process
  • Building a relationship with your prospective tutors; being upfront about your research interests
  • Building a community of like-minded people (Networking)
  • Writing a well-crafted CV
  • Networking and guidance
  • Writing the GRE

Dr Kwabena Sarpong affirmed that it is normal to get rejections after applying to schools. As a means to hedge any unfavourable outcome, it is recommended to apply to a selected number of  schools. 

Participants engaged in ongoing discussion

Sharing experiences from the UK and European contexts, Lois Damptey shared how personal initiative was instrumental in her ability to secure fully funded scholarships while highlighting the role of friendship and network in attaining goals. She also shared her volunteering and international experiences and explained the role of such engagements in building her portfolio in preparation for graduate school.

A number of  scholarship opportunities and resources were shared in the meeting. Some of these include Python for Science, Freecodecamp’s ‘Python for Scientific Computing’ ​​that teaches beginners how to apply python programming to science and the Coursera platform. Lois also shared the ‘Dear Young Graduate group page and other scholarship websites like Chevening, DAAD, the SINGA Awards and Swedish Institute (SI).

To conclude the session, Dr Fredrick Larbi joined us to reaffirm the need for a Ghanaian Science funding programme. 

The Community Call proved to be insightful with speakers selflessly offering an unadulterated account of their education and career. Participants were very engaged through questions and comments. The session achieved its objective of exploring research careers in working in different contexts and introducing participants to graduate school application processes.

You’re welcome to join the Global Lab Ghana Community on Facebook if you’d like to be engaged on STEM topics and opportunities. Follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to be updated on our various activities.

The Universe in Focus: Insights into Cosmology and Astronomy from Experts in South Africa and Ghana

Report on June 2021 Science Cafe organised by Global Lab Network

What is the fate of the universe? How can all Africans benefit from Square Kilometre Array (SKA)? Is raising awareness about the universe without implementing school curricula not like putting the cart before the horse? And do black holes exist literally? These were among the many fascinating questions asked by the participants of the Science Cafe held online on 25 June, 2021.

Presentation on the acceleration of the universe

Understanding the origin of the universe, including our earth, has always been a subject of human curiosity, raising many thought-provoking questions like the above ones. To answer these questions, we were privileged to host two speakers with outstanding track records in research, teaching, and public engagement in astronomy, during the June 2021 edition of Science Cafe. A first for the series, we had an international speaker in the person of Professor Bruce Bassett of the University of Cape Town, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS South Africa), and the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). Our second speaker, Sarah Abotsi-Masters, is the General Secretary of African Astronomical Society (AfAS), and Weekend Coordinator at the Ghana Planetarium, among other key roles in local and international initiatives. Together, they served a composite view of astronomy and cosmology, giving attendees a truly special experience.

A figure illustrating the rate of expansion of the universe to the distance from us
A figure illustrating the rate of expansion of the universe to the distance from us

GLab Lead Gameli Adzaho kicked off the meeting with an overview of Science Cafe, why it is important, and how we have adapted the model so far. Next, a poll was launched to determine the knowledge and interest of the attendees on Cosmology and astronomical resources in Ghana.

Professor Bruce Bassett set the tone for the discussion with a stimulating presentation on Cosmology; what we know about the universe, mysteries and new tools for astronomy and cosmology in Africa. In his presentation, Bruce gave an excellent illustration of reductionism, how complex phenomena are simplified in the scientific process, with an apple. He defined Cosmology as the study of the whole universe and everything we are in contact with and mentioned the importance of physics in understanding the origins of the universe. Following an illustration of galaxy clusters, Bruce explained how gravity pulls galaxies together and empties out the void leaving a bubble pattern using a map of the universe. Some of the mysteries of the universe he shared were:

  • Most of the matter in the universe is dark and invisible to us.
  • The cosmos is expanding in a very strange manner. The universe is getting bigger at a fast pace.

On some very large scales what we have is anti-gravity as the expansion of the universe started to speed up 5 billion years ago

Professor Bruce Bassett

Prof Bassett further discussed the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, which aims to build the largest network of telescopes to study the universe (two-thirds of these telescopes are expected to be in Africa, with the remainder in Australia). He concluded on the note that that there are several amazing discoveries about the universe however, there exist many more mysteries that are yet to be understood.

Presentation on Opportunities to Learn Astronomy in Ghana

Sarah Abotsi-Masters took off from Prof Bruce Bassett with an overview of astronomical resources in Ghana. She emphasized on the interconnectedness of astronomy to other disciplines and the importance of astronomy to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite the inadequacy of support for astronomy in Ghana, which is demonstrated in the lack of undergraduate astronomy courses, Sarah mentioned some notable organizations dedicated to promoting the study of astronomy in Ghana. They include, Ghana Planetarium, All Nations University and the Radio Astronomy Observatory. Sarah shared some opportunities for learning astronomy like the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) project and Promoting Radio Astronomy in Ghana through School Visits and Clubs (PRAGSAC). At the end of the presentations, the questions raised by the attendees were answered by the speakers in a thought-provoking conversation.

In the pre-event poll conducted at the beginning of the session, 11% of the participants stated that they had hardly heard of the topic under discussion while 78% stated that they had some idea with 11% engaged in some research in the area. At the end of the discussion however, the majority of attendees totalling 86% found the discussion stimulating and amazing. 

The Science Cafe was educating and eye opening, and met its objective of offering  participants  a new and informed perspective of the world beyond the earth, with a clearer understanding of the evolution of the universe, and increased awareness of latest scientific developments in Africa.

If you’re a researcher, innovator or artist who would like to speak at a future Science Cafe, please send us a proposal through our Speaker recruitment form. However if you’re interested in our programmes but not quite ready to speak just yet, you can join our Facebook Community or follow us on Twitter to remain updated!

Global Lab Network to Host Prof. Bruce Bassett of the University of Cape Town, AIMS South Africa in Science Cafe

Press Release on June 2021 Science Cafe

As an organisation building a STEAM Community for social impact, we are very delighted to host Professor Bruce Bassett in the June edition of Science Cafe.

Prof. Bruce Bassett, Senior Resident Researcher, is head of the Cosmology Group at African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) South Africa. Bruce is a graduate of the University of Cape Town (UCT), where he obtained his MSc in Applied Mathematics. After completing a PhD in Trieste, and a postdoctoral fellowship in Oxford, he lectured at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at Portsmouth University. After a sabbatical at Kyoto University he returned to Cape Town to a joint position, Professor of Applied Mathematics at UCT and astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO).

The event will be held on June 25, 2021 via Zoom on the topic: Cosmology – Study of the Entire Universe. This edition of Science Cafe will explore fundamental questions about the origin of the universe and the changes it has undergone over time and space. The event will also host Sarah Abotsi-Masters of the Ghana Planetarium to share on astronomical organisations and resources in Ghana, and discuss contextual issues around scientific research in Africa.

Sarah Abotsi-Masters is the General Secretary of the African Astronomical Society (AfAS), a National Astronomy Education Coordinator (NAEC) for Ghana for the Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) and a member of the PRAGSAC project team (Promoting Radio Astronomy in Ghana through School Visits and Astronomy Clubs), which uses astronomy to promote STEM and hands-on science through school astronomy clubs.

Promotional flyer for Science Cafe

Science Cafe is a knowledge exchange and networking platform that connects scientists, innovators, and the general public, to promote community dialogue and scientific inquiry in informal venues such as coffee houses, bookstores, restaurants, bars, and online platforms. GLab has been organising Science Cafes in Ghana since August 2018, with speakers drawn from various professional backgrounds.

At the end of the programme, participants will gain a new and informed perspective of the world beyond the earth, with a clearer understanding of the evolution of the universe, and increased awareness of latest scientific developments in Africa. 

To participate in this free session, register online at bit.ly/SciCafeGH.

Engaging Forces Senior High Technical School Students with STEM Skills and Careers

Blog post by Evans Owusu and Gameli Adzaho

Global Lab Network’s outreach initiative dubbed ‘Community Action’ is aimed at spiking the interest of young Ghanaians in STEM, through presentations, workshops, and hands-on activities. It also enables our Community members to give back while building on their planning, organising, leadership, and public speaking skills. 

May be an image of 5 people

Jacob Amengor leading a session on WASH at 2019 Nneka World Changers Camp

Recently, we partnered with Forces Old Students Association (FOSA) to engage current students of Forces Senior High Technical School at Burma Camp, Accra, through a one-day programme. The programme was focused on teaching students to develop their creativity and problem solving skills, and exposing them to a myriad of career opportunities possible with a STEM degree.

In the first session, Gameli Adzaho, who joined the session remotely via Zoom, highlighted the importance of developing creativity and problem-solving skills. He shared tips on how students can become better problem solvers, emphasising the importance of learning, networking, and gaining valuable experiences. Through examples of two young innovators, Kelvin Doe and Richard Turere, the students appreciated that it was possible to find solutions to some common local challenges even with minimal resources. The main takeaway from that session was the importance of applying knowledge gained from STEM to impact lives in local communities and around the world.

Next, Evans Owusu gave a talk on “Physics: the path to 21st century success.” Through this presentation he exposed students to various career options including Law, Education, Environment & Energy, Engineering, Media, Research, Information Technology, Finance, and High-Tech, open to people with STEM backgrounds. He went on to outline the skills one is likely to acquire from studying STEM degrees such as computing, report writing, critical thinking, programming, problem solving, and communication, among others. On key attitudes needed for success in STEM fields, Evans stressed the importance of passion, consistency, determination, resilience, as well as dedication.

Evans presenting to an attentive audience of students

Overall, it was a wonderful experience for the team to support FOSA in their bid to widen the horizons of the students and expose them to new possibilities. Over the past few years, we have been delivering sessions to young people in schools, universities, churches, and communities in both rural and urban areas. Some of the other topics we have covered so far include Design Thinking, Digital Literacy, Science Communication, and Environmental Stewardship. To learn more about Global Lab Network’s activities, kindly like our Facebook page, or if you would like to be more involved you can even join our Community!

Developing Basic Internet Safety and Media Literacy Skills

Report on our May 2021 Community Call

Seeing is not always believing and sharing is not always caring

Vanessa Otchere

Have you ever considered your safety on the internet? In an era where practically everything is going digital, with many activities transitioning online, one should be concerned about how to be safe online.  As many online interactions involve sharing personal data and leaving digital footprints on the web, many individuals, companies and countries have increasingly become concerned about cyber safety and the ramifications of privacy breaches. 

Another issue worthy of concern is our ability to tell whether the information we receive through online platforms is accurate. This is crucial since we make important decisions based on what we know, which is increasingly influenced by what we interact with online. We run the risk of being misinformed on key topics like climate change, political happenings, and the COVID-19 pandemic if we do not take care to properly evaluate information we receive. 

In an effort to increase awareness on cybersecurity and media literacy, this month’s Community Call was focused on exploring the concept and practice of internet safety and mis/disinformation. We were joined by three knowledgeable speakers on the Cyber Security to share tips on how to stay safe on the internet.

The session began with a brief round of introductions from participants and invited speakers. The first speaker, Confidence Mawusi, set the ball rolling by delineating the objectives for the session. In his opening statements he mentioned that “in our normal environment we have personal safety measures, however we pay least attention to our safety online”. He  defined online safety as acting safe on the internet and taking precautions to be safe. Confidence went ahead to state some internet threats and risks based on the actor/ internet user and threats based on devices. Some cases included cyberbullying, cyber dating abuse and sexting. He further shared a personal story of his experience with ransomware and stated other threats targeted at user devices: spam, adware, phishing and keyloggers.

After exploring the concepts and examples of internet risks, Confidence further shared some pointers on how to detect phishing and discussed malware and malware detection and prevention. Touching on Media Literacy, Confidence quoted Mark Twain “A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots.” to illustrate how fast fake news travels. He shared how the human desire to satisfy curiosity hastens the proliferation of fake news. Confidence illustrated the difference between misinformation and disinformation and shared some approaches to break the cycle of disinformation. Some examples include fact checking and reading complete articles.

Computers will be computers , technology will be technology, in the end it is ethics and philosophy that will help us’

Next, Vanessa Otchere took off by explaining the key terminologies; Infodemic, disinformation, misinformation, malinformation, media and information literacy. 

She discussed the social psychology behind mis and disinformation which included the filter bubble, heuristics – mental shortcuts that help people solve problems quickly – and confirmation bias – interpreting and recalling information that reinforces our beliefs. Some practices she recommended to verify information were: comparing multiple sources of information, checking URLs, and being aware of underlying agenda of the information source. She concluded on the note “the ecosystem of information is a complex one and so is the technological age in which we live in. It’s everyone’s responsibility to verify information before sharing.” The session continued with participants offering feedback and sharing their filter bubbles.

Obasegun Ayodele of VilSquare in Nigeria joined us to share his work on the Glass Room project which is focused on how best to tackle fake news across Africa. Following the deeply engaging and incisive discussion, the session was concluded by Confidence sharing three helpful hints;

Social media will affect your mental health. On the internet, if you are not buying the product, you are the product and also, the internet never forgets. `Its either you have been hacked or about to be hacked.

Confidence Mawusi

After the revealing presentations and discussion, the event ended with a networking session.

You are welcome to be a part of the Global Lab Ghana Community on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to be updated on our various activities.

Another exciting Science Cafe session is loading. Make a date with us!

Project Management – a Key Skill for Success in STEM

A report on our April 2021 Community Call with Edison Gbenga

Video recording from Community Call session.

Today, project management runs across a variety of sectors and industries. Many companies have embraced project management as a way to cut down cost, reduce risk and deliver on organizational goals. In the STEM industry, project management skills give you the ability to work with the increasing levels of complexities associated with projects in software development, bioscience research and health education. As a result, there is increasing demand for project management skills and knowledge.

In the Community Call session held in the month of April, we were led by Edison Gbenga to discuss a broad overview of Project Management with a focus on the approaches – Agile and Waterfall.

Edison Gbenga is a Business Strategist, Tech Evangelist and a Serial Entrepreneur. Since 2012, he has been serving as a strategist, coach and consultant for business owners and business developers of all sizes. His line of work ranges from business strategy consulting to process design and management  as well as web and mobile applications development. 

Edison began his presentation by giving a brief definition of project management. He described project management as the skill of moving from idea to results. In his presentation, he emphasised that project management permeates our daily lives; from planning a wedding to managing a country. He further indicated that project management has little to do with tools, procedures and recipes but more to do with mindset, practice and culture.

A good project manager knows how to solve problems, delegates effectively, works to meet deadlines and builds consensus.

Edison Gbenga

Following the introductory session, Edison proceeded to give a synopsis on two approaches to project management; Agile and Waterfall. He further described the SCRUM framework in Agile and how it helps teams work together. He delivered a detailed exposition on the two approaches and further discussed the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches. One major difference Edison illustrated in the two approaches is the iterative nature Agile employs between product design and testing as compared to the sequential order Waterfall follows. He reiterated the importance of team work, focus and discipline to project success.

The presentation was followed by a question and answer session, where Edison presented insightful answers based on his experience in working on varied projects. Some of the questions asked by participants include: How should a Project Manager manage non-compliant team members? What are the top skills needed to successfully implement a project? What products can we design to get people interested in STEM. 

Key Takeaways: What is Crucial to Project Success?

  • Having a solid team.
  • Managing people and dealing with negativity.
  • Understanding the time requirements of each task.
  • Emotional Intelligence and comprehension.

To learn more about ‘Developing Basic Internet Safety and Media Literacy Skills’ in our next Community Call to be held on May 28, 2021, you’re welcome to join the Global Lab Ghana Community on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to be updated on our various activities.

Gauging the Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Individuals

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented changes in the lives of general populations worldwide. Its effects have been witnessed in the loss of lives, challenges in public health and changes in national economies. A large number of individuals have experienced mental health challenges, loss of jobs or loved ones and some have remained unaffected by the pandemic.

During the Science Cafe organised on March 26, 2021, a poll was designed to gauge the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown on the participants present. Out of a total of thirty-six (36) attendants, 27 individuals participated in the poll. It must be noted that most of the participants are from the Ghanaian middle class based in Ghana or abroad. Below are the results. 

 Key Questions & Responses

  1. Did the pandemic affect your productivity?
  2. Will life return to normal with the vaccines?
  3. Did the pandemic affect your mental health?

Graphical Presentation of Responses

 In response to the question: Did the pandemic affect your productivity? 52% equalling 14 participants, stated that they were more productive during the pandemic, whilst 33% equalling 9 participants were less productive and 15%, a total of 4 respondents reported they experienced no change.  

In the second question, participants were asked to share their views on whether life will return to normal with the vaccines. 6 people agreed that life will return to normal, while a majority with 41%, 11 in total disagreed. 10 people out of 27, totalling a whooping 37% could not say if life would or would not return to normal with the vaccinations.

When participants were asked if the pandemic affected their mental health, 52%, 14 participants reported that the pandemic had affected their mental health, whilst 37% totalling 10 participants stated that the pandemic had no effect on their mental health. 11% of the respondents,3 individuals reported that they could not determine the changes .

This report represents the views of a small sample size of people and thus may not be generalised to larger populations. However, a great deal can be learnt from social science research on the attitudes and responses of communities and countries towards the C0vid-19 pandemic. This can inform strategies and innovations targeted at working towards a holistic recovery and preparing for more calculated responses for future generations.

If there is any research you find interesting, kindly share with us in the comments section.

Join the Global Lab Ghana Community and follow us on Twitter and on YouTube to stay updated on our events.

Building Individual and Collective Resilience Beyond the COVID-19 Crisis

Report on Science Cafe held on March 2021

People who want to get things done will find a way to get it done, irrespective of the pandemic

Ato Ulzen-Appiah

This month we partnered with Ghana STEM Network to have an amazing discussion on the notion of resilience in a time of profound global change by examining experiences, reflections, research findings, and imaginations of what the future could look like or should be like, as part of our Science Cafe Series. We were also supported by GhScientific and Digital Times Africa. The event attracted about 36 participants from different fields of endeavour.

Snapshot of participants in the session.

What has the crisis changed? How can we weave through present and future challenges wrought by the pandemic? What does ‘resilience’ mean for us as individuals, Ghanaians, and global citizens? 

Key questions explored during the session

The program started with a brief presentation by Gameli Adzaho on Global Lab Network and Science Cafe, Evelyn Agyepong set the ball rolling by sharing some personal and global perspectives on the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to her thematic question ‘what has the crisis changed?’ Evelyn asked, `What hasn’t it changed’.  She discussed the challenges she faced as a leader and an educator in including new technologies in teaching and the accompanying personal stresses in connecting with family and loved ones.  In sharing her coping mechanisms with us, Evelyn disclosed that she engaged in science education with the public to increase knowledge on the virus and best practices to avoid its spread and connected with her family online through video calls and online games. Evelyn ended the discussion on the key note that

Evelyn Agyepong sharing personal and global perspectives on resilience

We will move forward, but life as we know it has definitely changed

Evelyn Agyepong

Ato Ulzen-Appiah of the Ghana Think Tank joined us to share some examples of individuals who have been resilient during the lockdown and the crisis as a whole. He mentioned how Ernest Tsifodze, who does a lot of work around motivational speaking, was able to go virtual, bringing people across Ghana together online for continued impact. Ato further stated that more people need to share how they’ve been able to cope with the pandemic to increase knowledge and awareness on how other individuals can do the same. He asserted that, in the midst of the pandemic, people who want to get things done will find a way to get it done irrespective of the current crisis, citing examples of Accra Konnect and Kumasi Konnect, as responses to the challenge of  physical meetups. 

Dr Thomas Tagoe giving his presentation

Dr Thomas Tagoe who is a Neuroscientist, Science Communicator and the Co-founder of GhScientific, discussed resilience from a neuroscience angle. Among the key points he posited on how to cope and subsequently thrive during the crisis include:

  • Acceptance; accepting that we may not be able to go back to the old way of doing things and usual outputs may have to be adjusted. Research has shown that by coming to terms with whatever context one finds themselves in, it is easier for new patterns and behaviors to develop.
  • Considering motivation and linking that with a cognitive approach; behavioural change occurs within people along two angles, the motivational element which involves the will to change and the more cognitive approach which deals with the how. This includes finding alternative approaches to achieving goals.
  • Community building; The mere idea of knowing that someone else is in the same situation you are in makes one feel better and helps with dealing with acceptance. It makes adjusting to new situations easier on the mind. 
  • Cognitive control;” People who have cognitive control have the ability to connect goals with actions”. He averred that it may seem obvious but our brains and our mental wellbeing is such that anything we are capable of is broken into the minimum components. Connecting actions to goals  is most critical for well-being, because mental health is the basis for resilience. 

Following the incisive presentation from Dr Thomas Tagoe, Solomon Appekey of the Ghana Planetarium and X Space Solutions gave us an eye-opening presentation  by taking us back 100 years on how the universe developed. Solomon discussed how the universe developed and explored the lessons we can learn from the growth in astronomical developments and how those lessons can be helpful during the current crisis.

Snapshot from Solomon Appekey’s presentation

Cecil Senna Nutakor joined us to share his views on some personal benefits of the pandemic. In his words “why the pandemic was supercool”, he lamented on how it had to take the occurrence of a pandemic to step up leadership in the country. According to him, the pandemic has drawn the government’s attention to infrastructural development, and the need to upgrade education (investing in digital) and health systems. In his recommendations on how we can forge ahead, he proposed an inclusive process in policy making process, a bottom-up approach in tackling the current crisis and fostering continued growth. 

After the submissions from the speakers, the participants broke into smaller sessions to share their perspectives on how they have been resilient during the crisis and ended the session with a group photograph.

Talk of #impactfromabus ! We had two speakers on long distance journeys joining us from a bus . You can definitely join us on our next Community Call via the Global Lab Ghana Community. Follow us on twitter and on Youtube to stay updated on our events.

If you’re interested in sharing your research or STEM-based project at a future Science Cafe, you’re welcome to register via this link.

See you in our upcoming Community Call next month!

Facilitating Science-Society Discourses in Ghana through the Science Cafe Model

Gameli Adzaho writes on Global Lab Network’s Science Cafe journey so far, from the very first event in August 2018 to our upcoming roundtable with the Ghana STEM Network.

Science Cafe is a knowledge exchange and networking platform that connects scientists, innovators, and the general public to promote community dialogue and scientific inquiry in informal venues like cafes, bookstores, restaurants and bars. We found the model quite interesting and yet simple so we decided to try it out.

Image
Darlington Ahiale Akogo leads the first Global Lab Science Cafe (360 shot by Barnabas Nomo)

During our very first Science Cafe in August 2018, which was actually part of a series co-initiated with minoHealth dubbed ‘Conversations about Artificial Intelligence’, AI Innovator Darlington Ahiale Akogo gave a talk about AI and how it could influence development on the continent. Since then Global Lab Network has organised six editions, featuring researchers and innovators in public health, technology, mathematics, biotechnology, WASH, urban planning, environmental science, and public policy. These conversations have been useful in re-emphasising the importance of science, technology, and innovation to national development.

DateTopicSpeaker(s)FormatVenue
17 Aug 2018Conversations about Artificial IntelligenceDarlington Ahiale AkogoTalkVida e Caffe, East Legon
19 Jan 2019Co-Design: The Secret to Sustainable WASH InnovationsJacob AmengorPresentationTEMPORARY GARDEN, Airport West
31 May 2019Science & Society: Understanding the Connections between Research, Policy & Practice1. Dr Dzifa Adjaye-Gbewonyo
2. Amma Aboagye
Fireside chatAfrican Science Academy, Tema
29 Nov 2019Enabling Research & Innovation for Sustainable Development1. Dr Angela Tabiri
2. Daniel Osei Ofosu
3. Nii-Ashie “Nash” Adjaye
Talk + Panel Impact Hub Accra
31 Jan 2020What Has Diversity Got to Do with Information Technology Design?Nana Kesewaa DankwaPresentationVida e Caffe, Accra Financial Centre
22 Aug 2020The Coronavirus Crisis – What it Means for Public Health and Wellbeing1. Princess Allotey
2. Dr Mary
3. Eyram Ashinyo
4. Joseph Sam
PresentationGoogle Meet
2 Dec 2020Science & Politics – Exploring STEM Policy Ideas for Election 20201. Fred Otu Larbi
2. Dr Kwame Sarpong Asiedu
3. Dr Andani Kholinar
4. Paul Osei-Kuffour
Roundtable Zoom
Summary of previous Science Cafe events

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, we have moved all our events, including Science Cafes, online, and this has allowed people from around the world to join the various sessions.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "METHODS 이. LOGISTIC MODELS Fit the trend in COVID-19 cases 02. NEURAL NETWORKS 小 Princess Allotey Learned from time- series data predict future COVID-19 cases 03. SIRD MODEL 4 Josep Sam 04. NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSING k Susceptible-Infected Susceptibl Recovered-Dead (SIRD) model to examine trend of COVID-19 kwesiokyere okyere kwes Used text data to predict whether COVID-19 patient will eventually die survive the pandemic Achieved different evels.of progress with these methods & EBENEZERATOPLEY"
Princess Allotey sharing about data modelling to predict the course of COVID-19 in Africa

Reviews received from Science Cafe speakers and participants after the events have been very positive and encouraging. Aside from learning new things, most attendees also enjoy the interactivity and camaraderie the event evokes. In the good old days before corona, some of us would even stay behind to share food and drinks, talking until it was late.

We’re very glad to be collaborating with the Ghana STEM Network, with support from GhScientific and Digital Times Africa to organise the first Science Cafe of 2021 on Friday 26 March. The theme for this event is “Building Individual and Collective Resilience Beyond the COVID-19 Crisis“. Our goal is discuss the notion of resilience in a time of profound global change by examining experiences, reflections, research findings, and imaginations of what the future could look like or should be like. Some of the key questions we would like to explore include:

  1. What has the crisis changed?
  2. What does ‘resilience’ mean for us as individuals, Ghanaians, and global citizens?
  3. How can we weave through present and future challenges wrought by the pandemic?
  4. How can we utilise available opportunities to build a better future?
  5. What are examples of Ghanaians who have been resilient in these times?
Publicity for March 2021 Science Cafe

Speakers from different professional and disciplinary backgrounds have been drawn from the Ghana STEM Network and beyond to help address these questions. They include Ato Ulzen-Appiah (GhanaThink Foundation), Dr Thomas Tagoe (GhScientific & University of Ghana), Evelyn Agyepong (Independent Education Consultant), Cecil Nutakor (eCampus LLC), and Solomon Appekey (Ghana Planetarium & X Space Solutions). Each speaker will give an input talk at the beginning. Following the input talks, the session will open up for discussions, debates, questions, and responses.

From our experience, Science Cafe has proven to be an effective model of engaging the public with science, technology, and innovation, and further closing the chasm between science and society. Our goal in GLab is to facilitate these conversations and experiences, so that science is embedded in the cultural life of Ghana. If this vision appeals to you, you’re very welcome to join our upcoming Science Cafe or a future edition. RSVP here if you can make it on Friday. See you!

May be an image of 19 people and people smiling
Group picture of participants after Science Cafe as part of Africa Science Week 2019