In February Planet Earth Institute trustee, Sir Christopher Edwards, became Chairman of the newly created Planet Earth Institute Academic Board. His appointment was announced during the first Africa Breakfast Club of the year, held in London. Sir Christopher described his “delight” at the appointment, going on to say, “Academic rigour and excellence will characterise the operation of our scholarship scheme combined with a focus on developmental impact.”
Just over a month later and the full board has been announced. Sir Christopher Edward will be joined by 7 more board members, each with a distinguished career in their field. The board appointments have been designed to match the key areas of research the Planet Earth Institute scholarship focuses on. These are energy, water, agri-business, medical and blue sky science.
As such, the board consists of Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, who will focus on medical sciences, Professor Paul Younger, a leading energy expert, Professor Sir John Beddington, Professor of Natural Resources Management at Oxford who will advise on water, energy and agribusiness, Professor Madeleine Atkins, who will advise on education, Professor Lynn Frewer, a food production expert, Rob Hope, a renowned figure in the area of water, and Professor David Ingram, Emeritus Professor of Health Informatics UCL who will advise on medical science, higher education and blue sky research.
The primary purpose of the board is to oversee the running of the Planet Earth Institute’s scholarship programmes, particularly the HE Ameenah Gurib-Fakim PhD Scholarship Programme. The Institute has the ambitious goal of funding some 10,000 PhDs within the next 10 years. It is clear that rigours oversight will be essential to ensure the quality of the research being funded.
The funding itself comes directly from Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, several international organisations and network of enlightened businessmen committed to supporting African development.