In 2009, Overtoun Jenda, a professor of mathematics at Auburn University in Alabama, attended the annual meeting of the Southern Africa Mathematical Sciences Association in Tanzania. He was the only scholar from a U.S. university at the conference.
Professor Jenda and his colleagues at Auburn then formed the Masamu Program to increase cooperation between African mathematicians and those in the West. The program received a two-year grant from the National Science Foundation and held its first conference in Zambia in 2011. The grant covers the costs of U.S. mathematicians’ participation in the conferences. Subsequently, grant money has been expanded for another five years. At the first Masamu Advanced Study Institute, there were 41 faculty members in attendance. At last year’s event in Zimbabwe, there were 57 faculty members. The next conference will be held in Namibia in November.
“The main purpose of the program is to promote U.S.-African collaboration on research,” reports Dr. Jenda. “There are very good mathematicians in Africa, and the Masamu Program offers several research areas for faculty and students to work together.”
Dr. Jenda also serves as associate provost for diversity and multicultural affairs at Auburn. Before joining the Auburn faculty in 1988, he taught at the University of Malawi, the University of Botswana, and the University of Kentucky. Professor Jenda is a graduate of the University of Malawi and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Kentucky.
For more on the Masamu Program, click here.