Posted by Mark
Atkins Katusabe is the Director for International Relations and International Cooperation for the Council for Frontiers of Knowledge (CFK). This is a key role in strengthening and developing high quality science, technology, innovation and early stage researchers in the African context. Atkins is particularly interested in mechanisms for overcoming the knowledge divide between developing and developed Nations, and bridging the output gap; understanding local needs, local priorities and local interventions; public health and health service delivery systems and processes; educational policy analysis and policy evaluation; poverty definition, progression, and measurement; large-area deprivation and evaluation of institutional-based initiatives; sustainable excellence in science, technology and innovation; understanding the discrepancy and the appropriateness and effectiveness of individual, household, institutional and collective interventions.
Atkins has an MSc in Population and Reproductive Health, and a BA Social Sciences Honors Degree in Political Science of Makerere University. He also has Specialist Postgraduate Certificates in Governance and Law, Procurement and Logistics Management, Public Policy and Public Administration, Home-grown and International Policy, Networking and Advocacy, Human Rights and Gender, Institutional Monitoring and Evaluation.
Atkins has a highly creditable track record within Makerere University, extending into the wider community. He has had significant input into the repositioning of Makerere as the nucleus and premier player of academic excellence in Africa, helping to re-establish its past academic high mark. From February 25, 2003 to September 26, 2004, Atkins was Pioneer President of the Makerere University Council of Graduate Students - COGS (MD, PhD, LLD, Sc.D and Masters). Several people, without specific number, still believe now that Atkins’ COGs regime made it possible for Makerere postgraduate students to complete their studies and graduate within prescribed time. When Sida/SAREC proposed it would withdraw/review its support for Makerere, as a COGS leader, Atkins made strong presentations to the Swedish People/Government through the Swedish Ambassador and the Sida/SAREC Representative – paving way for further Sida/SAREC-Makerere collaboration mandates. He believes he has hard-to-match policy and advocacy skills and capabilities, and moreover is a unifier, consensus builder, strategic thinker, strategic planner, strategic developer, and all-round mobilizer of team efforts. He also has a long term strategic vision, which enables him to contribute sound strategic planning. As a Makerere University COGS President, in 2003, at University Senate House, he almost singlehandedly convinced the Makerere University academic community to return to duties, after close to four weeks of a very justified industrial action.
Atkins served the University with distinction that many now still call him, COGS. From June 2004 to June 2007, Atkins served as Pioneer President of the East African Council of Graduate Students (EACOGS). Through strong leadership he helped set up COGS in almost all leading East African universities to champion research and scholarship within their graduate communities. Atkins is a former member of several Makerere University Senate Boards and Senate/Council Committees namely: University Senate Higher Degrees and Graduate Studies Board; University Senate Quality Assurance Committee; University Senate Grants, Research and Publications Board; University Senate Intellectual Property Rights and Management Policy Adhoc Committee; University Senate Postgraduate Examination and Supervision Board; University Senate/Council Joint Degrees Award Committee and University Senate/Council Honorary Degrees Committee.
He is passionate about Africa’s sustainable development and indeed Makerere’s advancement and leadership, through science, technology and innovation. Together with various African Graduate Schools and the leadership of Makerere University, Atkins constructively participated in bilateral discussions with some of Makerere’s leading development partners, namely: Carnegie Corporation (New York, USA), BTC (Brussels, Belgium), NORAD (Oslo, Norway), World Bank (Washington, D.C) and Sida/SAREC (Stockholm, Sweden). Collectively with other Makerere University Board and Committee Members, as a Makerere Senate and Council Committee Representative, Atkins helped in the construction and development of several of Makerere’s key policies, namely: Quality Assurance Policy; Higher Degrees and Graduate Education Policy, Intellectual Property Management Policy; Research and Innovations Policy and Joint Degree Awards Policy. Atkins has specialized African-grown and international competencies in Strategic Thinking and Strategic Planning; Institutional Development and Planning; Defining, Developing and Coordinating Devolution and Donor Bilateral/Multilateral Funding; Regional and International Collaboration; Academic, Research and Organizational Goal Priority Setting; Higher Education; Curriculum Development; Monitoring and Evaluation of Organizational Systems and Processes; Knowledge Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer.
Atkins has led multiple African and Makerere delegations to interface with international partners passionate about Africa’s advancement through higher education, science, technology and innovation. Notably, in 2011, 2012, 2013, he led and supported Student visits to Tullow, Ireland as part of the Tullow funded graduate studies programme. These Dublin trips provided valuable discussion venues for Makerere students with their Tullow mentors, whilst bringing in Makerere academic advisors. Tullow-CFK Sponsored Students clearly benefited by discussing their specific research projects, identifying objectives, and discussing limitations. Students also saw firsthand how the different sectors of the industry can offer partnerships in order to achieve successful commercial outcomes. Similarly, they and their academic advisors from Makerere University learned more about the technical and logistic details of the challenges faced by Tullow Oil in the Albertine Graben. In addition to having enriched technology discourses with the Tullow Technology Group, the opportunity was taken to engage Dublin academics; Professor Chris Bean and Professor Stephen Daly from University College Dublin also visited the group and met with Makerere faculty and students, and CFK leads: Chair of CFK Board, Professor Fionn Murtagh (Professor of Computer Science, and Head of School of Computer Science and Informatics, DMU, Leicester, UK), CFK Director, Professor Pamela Weathers (Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, WPI, Massachusetts, USA), Deputy Chair of CFK Board, Professor Pankaj Vadgama (Professor of Clinical Biochemistry, Director, Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Biomedical Sciences, School of Engineering and Materials Science, QMUL, London, UK), CFK Director, Professor John Haslett (Professor of Mathematics, TCD, Dublin, Ireland). A forum was developed where by ideas were exchanged from all sides, and this definitively strengthened the overall education value to the Makerere students. Atkins also coordinated the process of added funding for the students to receive SEISAN seismic analysis software/system training in January 2013 at the Tullow Dublin Offices. Additionally, training was provided by one of the developers of the software (Professor Lars Ottem’oller).
More generally, within a short time of its inception, CFK was built up to have considerable momentum and to be an internationally connected organization. This was partly through local driving role of Atkins and his excellent coordination capabilities. He has been the key reference point for all of its new developments and has underpinned developments through exceptional personal time and effort. The Board is highly dependent of Atkins to seize initiatives.
He has been entrusted with global professional assignments. Notably this includes the recent assignment of co-organizing The Council for Frontiers of Knowledge, major international Conference, on the Theme "Western Science Meets African Reality", at Munyonyo Commonwealth Speke Resort and Conference Centre, in Uganda, November 2012. This Conference was attended by 412 delegates with representation from Ireland, Uganda, Japan, Kenya, Russia, Somalia, Germany, Tanzania, USA, Zimbabwe, Denmark, Senegal, India, Southern Sudan, Belgium, Botswana, China, Ethiopia, Argentina, South Africa, Sweden, Ghana, Austria, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Korea, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Switzerland, Mozambique, United Kingdom, Zambia, Namibia, Angola, Nigeria, Cameroon, Pakistan, Rwanda, Turkey, Burundi, Brazil, Sudan, and Egypt among others. Also more than 29 African countries were represented as were nine countries from four other continents. Indeed, it included as participants National, Regional and International R&D leaders, Presidents and Vice-Chancellors, or their direct representatives, of sixty two universities. This convergence of intellectual talent and energy led to new alliances and collaborations that will enhance and enrich Africans and the broader world community. In the convergence of ideas that emerged from this growing collaborative grouping via CFK. The following is also of particular significance: The International Statistics Institute (ISI), World Statistics Congress asked Atkins to identify participants from Irish Aid Countries (Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, Sierra Leone and Uganda) to compete for World Bank and Irish Aid Funding to facilitate travel to attend the ISI/YSI August 2011 World Statistics Conference in Dublin, Ireland. Also, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) requested Atkins to identify African University leaders to attend the AIMBE June 13, 2011 to June 14, 2011 Conference entitled “Defining the Industry-Academic Relationships for Effective Technology Transfer.“ The Conference took place at Stanford, USA. Candidates had to show leadership in formulating policy as it related to the commercialization of technology (inventions or innovations) developed at an African university.
Atkins has published in international high impact transdisciplinary journals. Together with some CFK leaders, he has covered perspectives of CFK in this recent article: S. Bell, F. Murtagh and P. Weathers, Eds., C. Agrell, S. Bell, F. Bosco, D. Diamond, J. Emnéus, A. Guiseppi-Elie, A. Katusabe, J. Lynch, S. Morse, F.G. Moussy, F. Murtagh, P.K.R. Nair, P.J. Weathers, "Transdisciplinary Sustainability: The Council for Frontiers of Knowledge", International Journal of Transdisciplinary Research, 7(1), 1-26, 2014. His work for CFK has given him a unique opportunity for special, personal contact with leading academics from multiple world-renowned academic institutions. His CFK work has also given him enormous insights into specific and generic training needs across different sectors, and he is well positioned now to translate best practice to delivery, most notably for training needs in the African and global contexts. To build, develop, strengthen and sustain the much-needed higher education, research and development capabilities in African universities, together with other African scholars, Atkins is driving a current distance learning initiative, called “CFK E-Mentoring Program” which is globally coordinated by CFK Directors Professor Cecilia Agrell (Lund University, Sweden) and Professor Jenny Emnéus (Denmark Technical University).
In addition to working with CFK’s front-line international research leaders to source funding to strengthen Africa’s capacity for sustainable excellence in research and development, Atkins has also encouraged CFK Directors to help Africa’s most talented individuals with Masters degrees to obtain funding to study for PhD degrees in their universities. A recent example is a 2014 Makerere MSc Civil Engineering graduate being awarded a Graduate Assistantship leading toward a PhD in Civil Engineering at Clemson University (South Carolina), USA - due to commence in January 2015. Atkins’ international connectivity, international experience and broad spectrum engagement are by now pretty unique and will be used to help fortify research, scholarship and innovation in Africa and more widely.