Diamond Crumby, a young scientist with big dreams

DAKAR, Senegal At 19, Diamond Crumby has her career figured out with great precision.

“I would like to pursue a M.D.-Ph.D. in regenerative medicine or virology,” said the rising sophomore at Howard University.

The Toledo, OH, native is a chemistry major with minors in biology and French. This summer, she earned a competitive place among 31 students conducting research abroad as part of the National Science Foundation-funded Global Education Awareness Research Undergraduate Program.

She is working at the hospital affiliated with the University Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar in Senegal. The day we visited she was working with advisor Amila Sow, Ph.D. Over the next four weeks, Dr. Sow, Crumby and a team of researchers will examine HIV drug resistance in children.

“I am really enjoying my research here,” Crumby said. “I think the experience will be invaluable when I apply to medical school and I can demonstrate substantive research I have conducted.”

Crumby has taken full advantage of the opportunity to practice her language skills  by speaking to her advisors and fellow researchers in French. She completes a team of four students who will spend the summer conducting research in Dakar and participate in a series of cultural activities, including visits to Goree Island and other historical sites throughout Senegal.

Photographs and blog post by Kerry-Ann Hamilton, Ph.D., University Communications and Marketing at Howard University.

Howard GEAR UP Team Works to Harness Wind Energy for Senegal

L-R Members of the Senegal GEAR-UP Team Mame Fall, Nadjitade Badje and Sanusi Conteh at the University Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar

L-R Members of the Senegal GEAR-UP Team Mame Fall, Nadjitade Badje and Sanusi Conteh at the University Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar

Nadjitade Badje was born in Chad. He later migrated to the United States with the goal of becoming an engineer. For the last two summers, he has participated in the Global Education Awareness Research Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP) funded by the National Science Foundation.

This summer, he is studying at the University Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar in the School of Engineering in Senegal. Home base is EOL Senegal, a lab dedicated to developing an appropriate wind turbine to harness wind for Senegal. Wind turbines that are sourced from Europe are not appropriate for Senegal’s wind conditions.

Badje has a keen interest in developing alternative sources of energy for Africa.

“Last summer, I did research in Nairobi, Kenya, on the use of algae to develop biodiesel as a source of energy, and this summer, I am hoping we can determine the right specifications for wind turbines in Senegal,” Badje said.

The Howard wind energy team also includes Sanusi Conteh, a junior mechanical engineering major from Long Island, New York. Conteh is American-born, but both his parents are from Sierre Sierra Leone.

“The GEAR UP research abroad is definitely STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) focused, but I am very interested in the culture, language and my French-African background,” he says.

Mame Fall just completed her freshman year. Senegal-born Fall speaks French and Wolof, an official language of Senegal. She hopes the research experience will help her become more fluent in scientific language.

“When I graduate from Howard, I plan to gain additional experience and ultimately return to Senegal so I can help to develop my country,” Fall said. “I want to become familiar with the locally-sourced materials and the issues so I can be part of the solution for Senegal.”

The team will spend a month working with Senegalese faculty advisors. GEAR UP Director Lorraine Fleming, Ph.D., and Electrical Engineering Chair Mohamed Chouikha, Ph.D., made presentations to the students, faculty and administrators at University Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar. The Howard advisors and Dr. LaWanda Peace, assistant dean for Student Affairs in the College of Engineering Architecture and Computer Sciences, led a series of on-site theoretical, practical and cultural orientation sessions with students as they adapted to their new campus community.

Photographs and blog post by Kerry-Ann Hamilton, Ph.D., University Communications and Marketing at Howard University.

GEAR UP South Africa Developing New Skills, Global Competence

Dr. Salaam Titichin works with Ahnna Beruk and Ariel Ward in a nuclear magnetic resonance lab.

Dr. Salaam Titichin works with Ahnna Beruk and Ariel Ward in a nuclear magnetic resonance lab.

CAPETOWN, South Africa  – Ahnna Beruk, a sophomore civil engineering major, plans to join the Peace Corps after graduation so that she can improve water quality and quantity in rural communities in Ethiopia.

This summer at the University of Western Cape, Beruk and senior Ariel Ward are working with faculty mentor Salaam Titinchi, Ph.D., senior lecturer in chemistry, to design a water treatment system for a rural area.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Beruk said. “This experience with GEAR UP (Global Education, Awareness and Research Undergraduate Program) will prepare me for the Peace Corps and my career in engineering.”

For students, study abroad offers more than a trip to exotic countries. It is an opportunity to expand their academic careers beyond familiar surroundings and acquire valuable learning experiences outside the classroom.

The increasing need for global collaboration has driven the growth of U.S. students studying abroad in the past decade. The goal? To develop a globally competent workforce.

Although there are nearly 15 million Americans studying at postsecondary institutions in the U.S., only about 273,000 Americans study abroad, according to the 2012 Open Doors report published by the Institute of International Education. Just a 1.3% increase over 2011.  Of the nearly quarter million students who study overseas, less than 10 percent are African Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans.

More than 22% of study-abroad participants are in the social sciences, and another 20% are in business; however, students in the physical and life sciences account for 7.3% of study-abroad participants. Less than 4% of study-abroad students in 2010-2011 were engineering students. With an increased focus on  science, technology, engineering and mathematics as a national priority, ensuring that students in STEM fields have cross-cultural experiences and lessons in appropriate technology are critical.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) also estimates that African-American students who have study- abroad experience comprise less than one percent of all engineering graduates.


In 2011, the Howard University College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences launched  GEAR UP, an ambitious program that immersed minority engineering undergraduates in international settings to conduct applied research in engineering.

“It is a reality that a country’s global competitiveness is maintained through strong workforce of globally competent citizens,” said Lorraine Fleming, Ph.D., who is a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Howard University and director of GEAR UP. “Programs like these help to maintain that workforce. If not, we run the risk of becoming technologically, economically, politically and socially obsolete.”

This year, students are conducting research in eight locations — Cameroon, South Africa, Senegal, Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey and Kenya.

Corbin Jackson, a senior electrical engineering major, and Jaleesa Harrington, a junior mathematics major, round out the South Africa team. Jackson is working alongside University of Western Cape nuclear physicist Nico Orce to improve materials that can more efficiently conduct electricity. This has large implications for harnessing solar energy. Harrington will spend the summer conducting bioinformatics research with UWC professor Daril Brown.

Study abroad research and cultural exchanges and service learning initiatives are tied to national security. They facilitate the acquisition of strategic languages, such as Arabic, and feed the pipeline of future U.S. leaders.

Photographs and blog post by Kerry-Ann Hamilton, Ph.D., University Communications and Marketing at Howard University.

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Corbin Jackson: Beginning Journey at University of Western Cape

So its day three here and I finally got to start my research. I’m working with Dr. Nico in the Physics department.  So far, we are doing time coincidence techniques.  Today, we used the different machines such as amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, oscilloscopes and other devices in the lab.

Photographs by KAH/University Communications

Luckily, we finally went to the airport so we could all get SIM cards to use our phones in South Africa. Once we got back I thought I would be able to easily get the wifi handled for my computer and phone(its not just as simple as joining a network), but once I went to the place I found out I needed paperwork I didn’t have.  They’re big on keeping paper trails they say so hopefully by tomorrow everything is all sorted out.

I am a big fan of foods so I have been trying to find “authentic” South African food.  I’m not sure if I have found it because everything we eat is the same as American food.  Hopefully when we get off campus their will be some foods that are different and good.

Everyone suggested that we should try this sandwich on campus called “The Gatsby” so we decided to go for it.  This was one of the biggest sandwiches I’ve ever seen, especially since I got one for myself and didn’t split it with anyone.

I felt like I was on Man v. Food trying to complete a challenge…that I sadly failed.

It’s only the beginning, more to come soon!

Corbin Jackson is a senior electrical engineering major from Bridgeport, CT.

Student Reflection: Ariel Recounts Visit Robben Island Museum

Photography by KAH/University Communications

For the first day, I’d have to say the highlights were meeting the faculty and visiting the UWC Robben Island Museum Mayibuye Archive. One of the things I love about the Howard University School of Engineering is its family-like atmosphere. Upon arriving to UWC, I immediately knew we were in good hands. The professors were friendly and zealous about their fields of expertise. The positivity and ambiance was reminiscent of the unique environment I have become accustomed to at Howard.

The Robben Island Archive located on campus provided meaningful insight into the history of South Africa and the Apartheid. The struggle and passion of the black and colored South Africans during this period mirrored the fight for civil rights in America. In fact, Dr. Peace (assistant dean of the HU school of engineering) stated that the pictures in the exhibit reminded her of some of the conflict she witnessed growing up. It just goes to show that the quintessential desire for human rights and equality is universal. I cannot wait to experience the actual Robben Island Tour! Read More