Mentor’s Moment: Richard Edema

19 06 2009

Meet Richard Edema, mentor to Pamela Paparu

Dr. Richard Edema

Dr. Richard Edema

Richard Edema is one of AWARD’s 33 male mentors.  He joined AWARD’s mentorship program because he saw a huge potential in women as research scientists. “All my PhD graduates to date are women and they were brilliant!”  Through his formal mentorship interactions with graduate students, he also was able to see the “fragility of their situation; trying to be mothers; in relationships and jobs.”  He realized that women researchers needed support to overcome the challenges they face.  On receiving AWARD’s invitation to become a mentor, Richard goggled the program.  “Minutes later I knew this was a good program that can help women scientists develop into excellent scientists.”  He then signed up as a mentor.

Formal mentoring approach
At first, Richard felt a bit uncomfortable “being in the middle of a women’s thing.”  However, this discomfiture was short-lived.  For the university lecturer, mentoring was not a new thing, much as AWARD is his first formal mentoring experience.  “I have a great relationship with my mentee,” he says.  “I think AWARD just made my role formal and richer because its programs are well thought out and designed.”  He is also happy to share that he has learnt a lot from the Mentoring Orientation Workshops (MOWs), tips that he has incorporated in his daily work as a supervisor and mentor.  “I think I understand my female students better,” he adds.   At the MOW, Richard felt he also received mentorship support, not to mention the benefit of having additional resources to attend a scientific conference with the help of AWARD.

The plant virologist is a senior lecturer at Makerere University.  He received his PhD in Plant Pathology from Ohio State University in the United States in 2001. Dr. Edema has used is knowledge to “initiate and participate in a number of research projects to better understand and/or describe causative agents of important diseases that affect our crops, such as cassava, maize, cowpea, bean and coffee.”  In the course of his work, he has designed and conducted research to find solutions to these diseases. “Sometimes this includes very close collaboration with plant breeders to develop more resilient crops,” he says hinting at the value of collaborative research.  

Richard is also involved in regional and international capacity building programs targeting the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in Uganda and other countries emerging from conflict.  He coordinates the AGRA and SCARDA M.Sc. training programs in Plant Breeding and Seed Systems at Makerere University, not to mention supervising Msc and PhD students.  “Since 2002, 15 M.Sc. and three Ph.D. students have graduated under my watch,” he says.

Even as he does his part in contributing to the developing women in agricultural research and development, Richard feels it is not enough. He also urges those who have benefited from AWARD to act as ambassadors for the program.  He only wishes that there was a similar program for men. “Helping male colleagues through the mentorship program might help make life easier for female scientists,” he says.




2 responses

1 07 2009


Thanks be to God for you are agood mentor
Continue the same spirit

Rosset kokoi Stella


28 10 2009
Ruffino Ezama

I just wish to invoke God’s blessings on dr Richard for this great work.
We need many mentors

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