The appointment of the SANBio Student Ambassador for Zimbabwe, Ms Joyce Fati Masvaya, was celebrated on the 21st of April at the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) at an event organized by the National Biotechnology Authority (NBA), an organisation which is mandated to support and manage biotechnology research, development and application in Zimbabwe. NBA is also the national focal point for SANBio in Zimbabwe. The event was held to congratulate and inaugurate the national and institutional SANBio Student Ambassadors for Zimbabwe; the institution-level student ambassadors that will work with Ms Masvaya include Ms Melissa Chimuchembere, Ms Nomsa Kitikiti, Mr Kumbirai Luka and Mr Bongani Ndlovu.
The event was attended by researchers, lecturers and students from different higher and tertiary institutions of biosciences. Among the tens of participants at the ceremony were Principal Director Air Commodore I.G. Dumba from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education Science and Technology Development (MHTESTD), Vice Chancellor of HIT, Engineer Q.C Kanhukamwe, and NBA Chief Executive Officer Dr Jonathan Mufandaedza, as well as, naturally, the SANBio Student Ambassador team and their parents.
The event was officiated by the Principal Director Air Commodore Dumba. In his opening remarks he gave a speech on the importance of biosciences and how biosciences can aid in the economic and social development of Zimbabwe. He also expressed how proud Zimbabwe is to be part of the SANBio network together with the other member states. Moreover, he emphasized the significance of SANBio as a platform which supports and stimulates research, development and innovation in biosciences and promotes youth participation in sciences. He later on highlighted that the SANBio Student Ambassador Scheme could never be more timely than now, when the MHTESTD is moving full throttle towards promoting the uptake of STEM in schools and institutions of higher and tertiary education. He also remarked that it is a great honour for the nation to have SANBio Student Ambassadors and promised on behalf of the ministry to back the Student Ambassador team in any way they deem suitable.
The event also included a presentation by Dr Mufandaedza, CEO of NBA and representative of SANBio at the event, on the relationship between NBA and SANBio, and the network’s achievements, and projects in Southern Africa as well as the opportunities available for researchers. Other presenters from different institutions encouraged young scientists to be innovative and to come up with projects that aid the nation.
Ms Masvaya, the newly appointed SANBio Student Ambassador for Zimbabwe, also gave a speech with regards to the event and her appointment. She remarked: “I am grateful in view of the fact that the competition was so tough.” In her speech she also included a brief description of her background and outlined her work plan as the Student Ambassador. “This was a momentous and memorable occasion for our SANBio Student Ambassador team. Many thanks to the National Biotechnology Authority management for organizing such a wonderful event,” Ms Masvaya concluded.
After the event, everyone in attendance went for lunch celebrating the Student Ambassadors. The event also allowed researchers from different institutions to network, resulting in knowledge exchange and pushing forward the SANBio agenda.