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Ardith Maney, IWISE, (515) 294-3824
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University, through its International Women in Science and Engineering (IWISE) program, is taking part in an HIV/AIDS project in Africa. One of the primary responsibilities for the program is to strengthen the role that African universities and other institutions are playing in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

"Women scientists can play a key role in campus-based AIDS education efforts," said Ardith Maney, ISU professor of political science and co-director of the IWISE program, "The women taking part in this project will be using professional connections already forged with ISU colleagues. The meetings in Ames this week will develop connections with other U.S. colleges and universities for later stages of the project."

ISU is part of a consortium with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the African Women in Science and Engineering (an African IWISE network organization). The consortium is the recipient of a grant from USAID.

The project, which is being coordinated by the Africa Division of AAAS, addresses three inter-related goals: confronting the HIV/AIDS pandemic plaguing the African continent; improving science and health education in African universities; and strengthening the role played by African women scientists and educators in achieving the first two.

IWISE will be involved in all phases of the project, especially in an information dissemination phase. The goal will be to make this a working model for science education available through the AWSE network to women scientists in the more than 25 countries making up AWSE.

The African project core team members who will be in Ames Aug. 8-14, are all former IWISE fellows who participated in the UNESCO-funded IWISE leadership program at Iowa State (1997 to 1999). Their academic and research work is summarized below.

Mabel Imbuga is a professor of biochemistry and currently dean of the faculty of science at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya. She has 22 years of experience in teaching and research. Currently, Imbuga is teaching undergraduate and post-graduate students, including a medical biochemistry unit that covers the etiology, pathology, transmission, resistance of viral, bacterial and parasitic infections, including HIV/AIDS. She is the chairperson of AWSE.

Caroline Lang'at is a senior lecturer and head of the chemistry department at Kenyatta University, Kenya. She has 12 years of teaching and research experience (undergraduate and post-graduate) in organic and natural products chemistry.

Ebby Chagala is chief research scientist/assistant director for research at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI). She has 20 years experience in research, working with scientists within KEFRI and other national and international institutions. Some of her work has involved communities, and she has wide experience in counseling people of various ages. She was one of the organizers for the HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns for staff members of KEFRI, and has been involved in counseling people infected by HIV and affected by AIDS.

Debra Meyer is a researcher and lecturer at South Africa's Rand Afrikaans University. Her research is on vaccines and other therapies to fight AIDS. Meyer has been very active in HIV/AIDS education projects on campus, in high schools and at various community forums. She has done HIV/AIDS education for more than 10,000 teenagers and young adults in Gauteng Province. Meyer advises the Township AIDS Project (Johannesburg, South Africa) to help them initiate voluntary counseling and testing programs, and continues her work in education and prevention.

IWISE is part of ISU's Program for Women in Science and Engineering.


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