Prof Nelson Torto, PhD, Executive Director, African Academy of Sciences

Nelson Torto is the Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), a pan African organisation headquartered in Kenya, which aims to drive sustainable development in Africa through science technology and innovation.

AAS’s mandate is to pursue excellence by recognising scholars and achievers; providing advisory and think tank functions for shaping the continent’s strategies and policies; and implementing key science, technology and innovation programmes.

The AAS recognises excellence through the election of Affiliates  as well as Fellows, who are distinguished researchers representing the most talented and promising men and women from across the globe. The Academy works closely with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency), and partnered to create the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), a funding platform.

Prof Torto oversees the mandate of AAS which includes, promoting partnerships, mobilising the scientific African community, leading science advocacy efforts and the use of research in policymaking processes to ensure that science remains at the forefront of the agenda in Africa and is adequately supported to transform the lives of its people.

Prior to joining the AAS, Prof Torto was the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI), a national research institution. At BITRI he promoted co-creation and ensured that empathy was the value that drove the organisation’s initiatives. His other appointments include Full Professor in Analytical Chemistry and Head of the Chemistry Department at Rhodes University; and Associate Professor at the University of Botswana where he undertook several responsibilities covering Coordinator of Analytical Chemistry, Founding Director of the Centre for Scientific Research Indigenous Knowledge and Innovation (CesriKi), which is credited with the establishment of the indigenous knowledge policy for Botswana.

He has had an illustrious research career, which has seen him publish over 130 papers, graduate 19 PhDs and several MSc students, being cited more than 2000 times since 2012, have an H-index of 25 and successfully apply for patents for his research in material chemistry where his group employed elctrospun fibres for various applications.

Prof Torto is a recipient of several international awards, including the American Chemical Society’s Young Investigators in Separation Science Award, the Award for Collaboration in Analytical Chemistry from the Nigerian Chemical Society, Osuni Chapter and is an internationally recognised speaker. He has also served in various capacities in pan African and international networks and organisations including being the Founding Secretary General for the African Network of Analytical Chemists (SEANAC); the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s Division V; and South African institutions, such as iThemba Labs, the Materials Division Advisory for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Nanotechnology Forum for the Department of Science and Technology, the Analytical Division of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI). He was Analytical Editor of the South African Journal of Chemistry and a SASOL Professor of Analytical Chemistry.

Prof Torto is currently a panel member of the Research Council UK, an editorial board member for the international journal Chromatographia and has given master class sessions in evidence driven policy for the European Union. He is a qualified and accredited Time to Think Coach as well as Time to Think Facilitator and is currently enrolled for the Certified Ontological Coaching Programme.

He is a Fellow of the following science academies: the Botswana Academy of Sciences, the African Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of Chemistry. He has a PhD in analytical chemistry from Lund University in Sweden, an MSc from the University of Botswana and a BSc (Hons) Chemistry from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology in the United Kingdom. 

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Thomas Kariuki, Director of Programmes, African Academy of Sciences

Thomas Kariuki, AAS Director

Kariuki is the Director of Programmes at the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) where he leads the Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), which was launched in 2015 by the AAS and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency.

An internationally recognised immunologist, Kariuki leads the Academy's programmatic activities to accelerate world-class research, foster innovation, and promote scientific leadership on the continent. He oversees the funding of research, development and commercialisation of novel, high-impact solutions for the Academy and is cultivating strategic partnerships with academic institutions, governments and industry globally to transform Africa’s future through science-led, knowledge-based economies.

Prior to his appointment at the AAS, Kariuki served as Director of the Institute of Primate Research/National Museums of Kenya. He has published widely on vaccines and diagnostics development for schistosomiasis (Bilharzia), malaria and co-infections, and on policy related to biomedical research and funding. He is recipient of several international grants and awards.

Kevin Marsh, PhD, AAS Senior Advisor

Kevin Marsh, AAS Senior Advisor

Kevin Marsh is a malariologist who has spent 30 years in Africa conducting research.

He was director of the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi, Kenya, for 25 years until 2014 when he joined the AAS as its senior advisor.

He is a professor of tropical medicine at the University of Oxford and chairs the WHO Malaria Policy Advisor Committee. He is a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and was awarded the Prince Mahidol prize for medicine in 2010.



Elizabeth Marincola, Senior Advisor for Research Communications and Advocacy

Elizabeth Marincola has been a global leader of science publishing, education, advocacy and policy.

 She was CEO of PLOS, the world’s largest open access publisher, served as President of Washington-D.C.-based Society for Science and the Public, was Publisher of Science News magazine, and was Executive Director of the American Society for Cell Biology.

She has authored dozens of articles and chapters published by ­Science, Nature Medicine, The Huffington Post and Oxford University Press.

Among her honors and appointments have been serving on the Board of Directors of eLife, as Visiting Professor at the University of Bogota, receiving the (U.S.) Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, being named to the Fae Golden Kass Lectureship at Harvard Medical School, and being named a Lifetime Citizen Member of the American Society for Cell Biology.

She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Humanitarian Health and on the Strategic Planning Committee for the (U.S.) National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine. She received her A.B. from Stanford University and her MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Michael Kilpatrick, PhD, Senior Advisor, GFGP

Michael  Klpatrick qualified in London with a PhD in Neurophysiology, and then entered the pharmaceutical industry as a research scientist.

This was followed by a career as a management consultant in the life sciences sector.

He has extensive experience in successfully delivering complex projects in Sub Saharan Africa.  Following two years as the Operations Director for the Medical Research Council in the Gambia, he relocated to London to be the MRC Operations Director for their units in UK and Africa. Kilpatrick was seconded to the African Academy of Sciences in 2015 to be the senior advisor to the Good Financial Grant Practice Programme.

Alphonsus Neba, PhD, Programme Manager

Alphonsus Neba is responsible for the implementation of the Wellcome Trust-supported, Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS), in which AESA is a partner. Neba, who holds a PhD in biotechnology from South Africa’s Rhodes University, has 10 years’ experience in research management, grants and contracts administration, research commercialisation, technology transfer and intellectual property management.

Hannah Ngugi, Finance and Administration Manager

Hannah Ngugi, has over 14 years’ experience in finance and administration. She was the finance officer for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Her role at the AAS is to develop and maintain timely and accurate financial statements and reports, implement and ensure compliance with internal financial and accounting policies and procedures, budget and forecast preparation. Ngugi has a degree in business administration (IBA, Finance) from the United States International University and is a certified public accountant.