By Prudence Minayo
President Uhuru Kenyatta went all hammer and tongs after Prof. Paul Wainaina refused to cede land for the World Health Organization (WHO) project. The VC was shown the door and the university council dissolved for showing defiance at the president directive. Prof. Waceke Wanjohi replaced him as the VC in an acting capacity effective Tuesday, 12th July 2022.
Prof. Waceke is a leading African scientist with over two decades of experience as a researcher in Plant Nematology and Pathology. She is keen about improving crop production and enhancing food security in a way that is sustainable. She has taught Nematology for decades and her works have been published internationally. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PHD) in Plant Nematology and Pathology from Kenyatta University.
The new Acting VC has been a lecturer at Kenyatta University for over 25 years. She has served as the Dean, School of Agriculture and Enterprise Development. She has taught at the premier institution from 1989 until August 2021 when she was appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics).
She is one of the founders of the Nematology Initiative of East and Southern Africa. The project is effectively improving crop yields in smallholder farming systems in various countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Malawi through the use of worm control strategies that are friendly to the environment.
From 2008 to 2011, she served as a mentor and fellow at the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD).
In 2011, she was feted in Germany over the study of worms. She was invited to present her research breakthrough at the Falling Walls Conference. The invitation came from the general director of Germany’s Falling Wall Foundation, Dr. Nathalie Martin-Hubner. The conference is a yearly global gathering that at the time consisted of forward thinking individuals from about 75 countries. 20 of the leading scientists around the world would be invited to the conference to present their breakthrough research. That year, Prof. Wanjohi was the only African who got the opportunity to attend it. She presented a paper titled, Breaking the Wall of Food Insecurity: How Agricultural Science Minimizes Nematode Damage in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“I felt greatly humbled to note that the research I have been doing to minimise the impact of nematode pests on crops has been recognized internationally. Sharing a platform with the Chancellor of Germany and Prof Aaron Ciechanover, the Nobel Prize winner from Israel, was to say the least, very humbling,” she said.
Prof. Waceke Wanjohi is a co-founder of Neema Hospital in Nairobi.