TReND in Africa Teaching and Research in Natural Sciences for Development in Africa Wed, 11 Mar 2020 20:18:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 TReND in Africa 32 32 Service and Excellence: Collaborative Science Symposium 2020 at the University of Zambia Wed, 04 Mar 2020 15:03:46 +0000

By: Franziska Bröker, Miriam Rateike, and Renée Hartig

It is early January, rainy season, and research questions are looming in the air: How has mining the Central African Copper Belt impacted soil bacterial populations? How do  fungi influence one of Zambia’s most important agricultural products – peanuts? From preparing a proposal to pitching a poster, students at the University of Zambia researched such questions during the Collaborative Science Symposium 2020. This week-long training program introduced natural science undergraduates and graduates to accessible research methods, scientific soft skills, and a network of international mentors, empowering young scientists to move their careers forward.

For this purpose, six researchers from the Max Planck Society (Germany) and Temple University (PA, USA) teamed up to travel to Lusaka, Zambia’s buzzing capital. Prepared for the expected, and excited for the unexpected, the Symposium team expressed the shared motivation to educate and learn. The University of Zambia was the first in the country to open its doors in 1966, and today welcomes you with its motto in big print: Service and Excellence. A mission not only reflected on the campus gates but also in the symposium.

Overlooking palm trees, a group of 30 students took hold of a journey through the layers of the scientific method. Teams conceived of research projects, building on material from morning lectures in which we touched on topics including literature review, experimental design, statistics and machine learning. Symposium participants demonstrated a profound ability to absorb the information presented in the lectures as they assembled it into coherent research proposals, posters, and elevator pitches. During afternoon sessions, we offered hands-on training in computer programming, public speaking, and scientific writing. These one-on-one practicals also laid the foundations for cultural exchange and future mentoring.

It was already the second year that the Collaborative Science Symposium materialized in Zambia after its launch by Dr. Renée Hartig, together with the non-profit organization TReND in Africa, in early 2019. TReND aims to address the lack of human, material and financial resources hindering research proficiency on the African continent. Symposium workshop topics, such as research ethics and fairness in machine learning, sparked discussions on the impact and responsibilities of scientists. It also had us think about questions like how to promote online resources at universities with limited internet access. In short, the symposium proved to be a truly bidirectional learning experience that opened new intellectual territory to all. We encouraged participants to pursue their scientific ambitions and returned home with a much broader horizon ourselves.

Service and Excellence in higher education. That is what we witnessed at the Collaborative Science Symposium. High agility revealed a scientific maturity and commitment to knowledge. We met brilliant young scientists that brought tremendous hard work and motivation to the classroom. The students’ agility revealed a scientific maturity and commitment to knowledge that was inspiring. We look forward to replicating such enthusiasm for science again next year. Until then, friendships and mentorships that were developed are maintained remotely – a symposium that doesn’t end with the last talk.

Within two years, the Collaborative Science Symposium has gained support from the Max Planck Society, Tübingen University, University of California Los Angeles, University of Central Florida and Temple University. We explicitly thank the Max Planck Society for their financial support and their trust in us to effectively turn resources into useful knowledge, sustainable relationships, and lasting impressions.

The Collaborative Science Symposium 2020 was held by Dr. Renée Hartig (TReND Course Coordinator) and Franziska Bröker, Max Planck Institute of Cybernetics, Anastasia Lado and Miriam Rateike, Max Planck Institute of Intelligent Systems, both in Tübingen, Germany and Professors Kevin Arcenaux and Valentina Parma, from Temple University, Philadelphia, USA.

If anyone is interested in this program and feels that they would like to take part at some point, please do reach out! Just send an email to expressing your interest and an effort will be made to incorporate your ambitions for the next journey.

Applications open now! Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:28:36 +0000 Invertebrate Neuroscience 2019. Only 3 days left to apply!

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Applications open now: Science Communication and Journalism Mon, 29 Jul 2019 14:27:44 +0000 Apply here


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Applications open now – TReND pre-SONA workshop Mon, 26 Nov 2018 15:29:33 +0000

Apply now at

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Applications open: 1st Advanced Open Labware Course, Cape Town Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:45:55 +0000 We are pleased to announce the 1st Advanced Open Labware Course, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa this April. Applications open now!

Apply here!

Also, please help us spread the word! For example, why not print the poster.pdf and hang it on your Departmental notice board? Thanks!


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2nd TReND Science festival-Nigeria Tue, 10 Oct 2017 20:50:01 +0000 We are excited to announce our 2nd Science Festival, happening on

20th – 21st November 2017

Yobe State University, Nigeria


If you would like to attend, please lasix order online send expression of interest to participate by 31st October to


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TReND’s Volunteering Program is waiting for you! Tue, 29 Aug 2017 12:15:34 +0000 During the first half of 2017 things were quite busy for TReND’s Volunteering ProgramSeven European researchers visited Universities in Sudan, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia, and more projects are one the making! Below you can read what some of our volunteers thought about their experiences.

If you get inspired and would also like to spend some time teaching in Africa, apply to our Volunteering Program now!

Anna Bennis

PhD candidate Dept Clinical Genetics, VU University, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Volunteered  at the University of Freetown, Sierra Leone, between mid-February and mid-April 2017

“Creativity is such an important part of science. I am very happy with the effort of the students and so proud of them! And also I had a really good time teaching and talking with them”

“I really enjoyed discussing research with the students. I remember the amazement and enthusiasm about sheep Dolly and the possibility to clone, and all the questions that came up. We talked about what makes a cell a cell: what does it consist of, what makes a neuron a neuron and a skin cell a skin cell when the DNA is the same in every cell”

Dr. Luisa Vigevani and Dr. Domenica Marchese

Post docs at the Centre of genomic Regulation, Barcelona, Spain
Volunteers at the University of Khartoum, Sudan, in April 2017

“What mainly rewarded us from this volunteering experience was to see that students were very curious and excited to learn, but also very eager to show and discuss with us their projects and results. This, in fact, was an interesting occasion of professional growth also for us!”

Carolina Thieleke Matos

Former postdoc at Postdoctoral Researcher at Imperial College London and University College of London, London, UK
Volunteered at the IMTU University, Tanzania, in January 2017

“When IMTU University asked me to join them for a couple of months I could not believe it. Luckily I was able to take that opportunity and in six months I was flying on my way to Dar es Salam to teach parasitology.  I can tell you that I ended up learning more than teaching.  Thanks to Trend in Africa organization, this kind of exchange is now possible and everyone that has the chance should do it!”


One of Carolina’s students said:

“It was really a great honour and privilege meeting Madame Carolina and spending a few months with her, apart from her friendly nature it was very eye opening and encouraging for me to learn more about what is really out there and she has only just increased my curiosity to keep on striving to attain new knowledge and information only to apply them in my home town and try making it a better place…”


Click here to learn more about TReND’s Volunteering Program now

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Applications open now: 7th Neuroscience school, Gombe, Nigeria Tue, 01 Aug 2017 13:20:37 +0000 We are excited to announce the 7th installment of our annual Drosophila Neurogenetics course, this time to be held at Gombe State University, Nigeria.

13th November – 2nd December 2017.

Deadline Sept 1st 2017. Applications are now closed!

For an impression of previous schools, see here:

Past neuroscience schools

– 4th IBRO school on insect neuroscience and Drosophila neurogenetics, KIU Dar es Salaam campus, Tanzania. 24th October 13th November 2016 . Course Booklet, Picture Gallery

–  5th TReND/ISN school on insect neuroscience and Drosophila neurogenetics, KIU Dar es Salaam campus, Tanzania. 17th August 05th September 2015 . Course Booklet, Picture Gallery

– 3rd IBRO school on insect neuroscience and Drosophila neurogenetics, Department of Zoology, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 11th-30th August 2014 . Applications will likely open in April 2014. Course Booklet, Picture Gallery

– 2nd IBRO school on insect neuroscience and Drosophila neurogenetics, School of Health Sciences, Kampala International University, Uganda. 19th August – 8th September 2013. Full report. programme. Course Booklet. Picture Gallery

– 1st IBRO school on insect neuroscience and Drosophila neurogenetics, School of Health Sciences, Kampala International University, Uganda. 20th August – 7th September 2012. report. programme. Course Booklet . Picture Gallery

– Drosophila neurogenetics course. School of Health Sciences, Kampala International University, Uganda. 10th – 29th October 2011. Blog of the course. Picture Gallery

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Outreach in Entebbe, Uganda Fri, 21 Jul 2017 09:20:33 +0000 Our outreach team used their spare time before the SONA Conference in Entebbe last month to inspire students from six secondary schools about science. They got the students to learn first hand, through experiments, about fractionating and estimating protein concentration in house flies; learned how to investigate learning and memory in fruit fly larvae; couple the DNA and some students even got to simulate brain signal speed and how it goes aberrant in cases of dementia. At the end, students made a presentation on their experiments, for which many won prizes and reagent leftovers were donated to all the schools that participated. Many thanks to Mahmoud, Yunusa and Sadiq for organising the outreach. We thank the Serpell lab, University of Sussex UK and the Galizia lab, University of Konstanz, Germany,  for donating some reagents used for the outreach.  See some pictures for impression.

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3D printing open day! Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:26:06 +0000 The ongoing Open Labware workshop held at Ibadan, Nigeria had for the first time an “Open Door Day”. On this day, the university community, high school students, the general population as well as representatives from the local industry were invited to visit our lecture hall and talk about 3D printing, open source technologies and the projects participants have been developing! Our aim was to expose people to new ideas and technologies as well as create a welcoming environment to foster local collaborations. We had a very rewarding day, with many visitors and interesting discussions!

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