Princeton Weekly Bulletin   December 10, 2007, Vol. 97, No. 11   prev   next   current

By the numbers

Research and service projects focused on Africa

Princeton NJ — In keeping with the University’s efforts to enhance its international presence, students and faculty members in the School of Engineering and Applied Science have undertaken a number of research and service projects focused on Africa. The efforts aim to improve health, well-being and environmental sustainability.

• Eric Wood, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, is developing methods for monitoring drought in Africa as part of a project supported by UNESCO, the U.N. agency that promotes international peace and security through education, science, and cultural understanding and communication. Wood hopes to create an early warning system for the continent, two-thirds of which is desert or drylands. 

• A group of Princeton students is working on initiatives to improve irrigation and water management in the village of Kumudo, Ethiopia, as part of the Princeton chapter of Engineers Without Borders, which sends teams of students and professionals to developing countries to complete engineering projects. The group installed half a mile of piping to transport river water to crops in 2006 and recently won a Brook Family Foundation Water Grant of $2,000 for continuing work in the village. 

• The research group led by Robert Prud’homme, a professor of chemical engineering, is developing aerosol vaccines for tuberculosis and diphtheria, which are endemic to many African nations. According to the World Health Organization, tuberculosis caused 1.6 million deaths in 2005, with both the highest number of deaths and the highest mortality per capita occurring in Africa. Prud’homme’s work is part of a $7.6 million Grand Challenges in Global Health research project, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

• Princeton’s interdisciplinary Water in Africa initiative is investigating the interplay of water, vegetation, climate, wildlife, livestock and humans in a district of central Kenya, a country where only 46 percent of the rural population has access to safe drinking water. The 250,000 inhabitants who live in the area being studied survive on the same amount of water used by the 8,000 students and employees of Princeton. The initiative, launched in 2006, includes researchers from engineering, politics, and ecology and evolutionary biology, and is funded by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.

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