Project Title: Action Towards Reducing Aquatic snail-borne Parasitic diseases (ATRAP)
The Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies (FIS) of Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) are partnering with the Royal Museum for Central Africa, KU Leuven, University of Antwerp, Belgium and University of Kinshasa, DRC to implement a 5-year multidisciplinary project titled Action Towards Reducing Aquatic snail-borne Parasitic diseases with funding support from Belgium Development Agency (DGD)– 2019 – 2023. The overall aim of the ATRAP project is to aid in the prevention of aquatic snail-borne parasitic diseases in Uganda and Congo, through a multi-disciplinary approach. Within the project, 5 PhD researchers and 5 Masters students affiliated to universities in DR Congo, Uganda and Belgium will tackle various research questions ranging from the ecological aspects of the infection cycle to the societal mechanisms at play determining schistosomiasis risk perception and knowledge transfer. The project greatly values involvement of females in the fight against snail-borne diseases, given that women (and children) are at a greater risk of infection compared to other groups.
We are therefore looking for female candidates to fill two (2) Master’s positions at Mbarara University of Science and Technology: one (1) in the Social-Cultural and Communication aspects of the project and the other in the Biological aspects of the project. A summary of the project is as follows:
Project Summary: The last decades, the control of schistosomiasis has focused on mass drug administration (MDA) among school-aged children. However, schistosomiasis continues to (re-)emerge and scientists agree that MDA alone does not suffice. Research demonstrated that a limited knowledge, risky water practices, poor sanitation and negative attitudes and beliefs about schistosomiasis increase the risk of infection. Therefore, a better understanding of risks together with improved health education and more active inclusion of local communities are essential to increase knowledge and induce behavioural change.
In this project we want to develop a novel vector monitoring approach that can be executed by non-specialists, in order to reduce transmission of snail-borne diseases. Citizens will be actively involved in snail monitoring, but will also act as communicator to the wider community, resulting in a multiplication effect. Apart from effective sensitization and education, this ‘citizen science’ approach will allow to significantly increase the scale and resolution of snail monitoring, generating the much-anticipated ecological data to create reliable risk maps. Another important component is a thorough understanding of sociocultural factors that influence knowledge uptake and induce behavioural change.
Key activities of the Masters scholarship:
- Undertake coursework studies in the respective departments of Biology, Faculty of Science and Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies, MUST,
- Undertake the research activities of the project with the guidance of the research team
- Design data collection tools,
- Regular field excursions at the community level including community education and sensitization as per the research guidelines,
- Communicate regularly with the research team on the progress of the assigned research assignments,
- Timely collection, analysis and presentation of data, and
- Undertake a 2 years Master’s Programme in accordance with MUST rules and regulations.
The scholarship caters for tuition fees, research costs, and a monthly stipend in Uganda. The applicants must therefore be willing to be full-time students dedicated to their studies and project work and will be based at MUST with an office space on full-time basis.
Student Selection Criteria
The advert is open to all eligible female Ugandans. The MSc in Biology applicant should be willing to study the ecology of the intermediate host snails of parasite as well as profiling the animal footprint in the parasite cycles.
The applicant interested in the social science strand will mostly work on socio-cultural data centred around community awareness. The students will be expected to work with the rest of the research team and the PhD students in an interdisciplinary approach. A suitable candidate must have obtained a minimum of an upper second degree at bachelor’s level.
The salient attributes we are looking for are as follows:
a) Master of Science (biological) applicant
- Must have an admission letter to pursue an MSc in Biology (either Natural Resources’ Ecology, Management and Conservation, or Microbiology and Parasitology option) at Mbarara University of Science and Technology.
- The applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree in Biology or any other relevant Biological science acquired from a recognised university.
- Experience in working with project related activities is an added advantage.
b) MA (Socio-Science) applicant
1. Must be an admitted student at MUST under either of the following programmes:
- MA in Development Studies
- MA in conflict Analysis and Inclusive Development
- MA in Local Governance and Planning
- Master of Public Health
2. Should have a Bachelor’s degree in humanities e.g. sociology, anthropology, development
studies, gender, community development etc. from a recognised university.
The successful applicant will work under the supervision of Dr. Casim Umba Tolo (Promoter, MUST), Dr. Viola Nilah Nyakato (Co-Promoter, MUST), Dr. Tine Huyse (Promoter– Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium), Dr. Caroline Masquillier (Co-Promoter, Antwerp), Prof. Karolien Poels (Co-Promoter, Antwerp) and other project team members from Uganda and Europe.
The application package should include:
- A letter of motivation
- A cover letter (1 page)
- A CV (2 pages)
- Copies of academic documents
- A letter of recommendation from the current employer/immediate supervisor (1 page) – if applicable
- A letter from an academic referee supporting your application (1 page). The application should be compiled into one document of no more than 8 pages in total
- Only complete applications will be assessed
- The applications should be addressed (and submitted) to the local promoter by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ensure that the following emails addresses are included in the cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org
- All applications should be submitted by 17th July 2019, 5:00 pm EAT.
- The selection process will involve two stages – a pre-selection phase between 17th and 24th July 2019, and the final selection between 24th and 31st July 2019. The successful candidates should be ready to start their studies at the beginning of the academic year 2019/2020 scheduled for mid-August, 2019.
Only short-listed candidates will be contacted. Please include your WhatsApp and Skype Addresses for easy communication