Two PEP researchers selected for the CEGA Global Fellows Program

March 10, 2024

Dinah Salonga from Malawi and Aja Fatou Senghore from The Gambia will join other African scholars at UC Berkeley in the USA for a one-semester rigorous research fellowship.

Two PEP researchers currently undertaking experimental impact evaluation projects will spend the 2024 fall semester at the University of California, Berkeley (USA), for a rigorous research fellowship.

Through a collaborative process, PEP and the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA)—a research hub at UC Berkeley—selected Dinah Salonga, a Research Analyst at the MwAPATA Institute in Malawi, and Aja Fatou Senghore, a lecturer at the School of Business and Public Administration in the University of The Gambia. Dinah and Aja will join other African scholars invited to UC Berkeley’s campus to participate in the CEGA Global Fellows Program from August to December.

“This fellowship signifies an invaluable chance to sharpen my skills in research, data analysis and critical thinking while contributing to evidence-based decision-making,” said Dinah.

During their time with CEGA, Dinah and Aja will be expanding their teams’ respective research projects. Dinah will study the productivity impact of integrating soil fertility management interventions in Malawi. Aja will study play-based learning in public Early Childhood Development centers, to offer insights on improving educational outcomes for children in The Gambia. Both projects are supported by PEP under the Strengthening Impact Evaluation Capacities for Development (SIECD) program that is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

In line with PEP’s mission, the Global Fellows Program will strengthen the knowledge and skills of emerging research leaders to generate high-quality, locally-relevant evidence and contribute to a more effective policy process in their countries.

“As a young researcher, I see immense potential in enhancing my skills through opportunities that foster impactful research. [This] fellowship stands out as a gateway for me to delve deeper into quantitative research, especially in impact evaluation,” said Aja.

During the Global Fellows Program, Aja, Dinah, and other African scholars will audit courses, develop their impact evaluation skills, advance their research ideas through a personalised mentorship program, and build their research networks.

“The fellowship is an excellent opportunity for young researchers to acquire new skills, interact with foreign professionals, and benefit from the support of the CEGA faculty while working to finalise their PEP projects,” explained Dr. Maria Laura Alzúa, Research Director of PEP’s Experimental Research Group.

Selection for the fellowship was competitive, with a pool of very good applicants. Dr. Alzúa noted that CEGA was particularly impressed by the high quality of the candidates that PEP put forward and the number of female researchers who applied.

“In 2023, the proportion of female applicants was only an average of 29% across CEGA's Resident and Non-Resident competitions. Encouragingly, with our partnership with PEP,  70% of applicants were female, and 100% of selected scholars were female,” said Chelsea Downs, Program Manager for Global Networks at CEGA. She added: “The CEGA team looks forward to meeting with PEP more to understand their approach and lessons, and to apply this to our overall fellow recruitment process.”

PEP is sponsoring Aja and Dinah’s participation in the CEGA Global Fellows Program as part of the new CEGA-PEP partnership to expand opportunities for African researchers.

“We are very hopeful about this first edition of the joint program,” said Dr. Alzúa, “We expect the fellows to emerge as more inspired, connected and overall better-trained researchers, having enhanced the capacities they acquired through PEP support.”

Chelsea echoed these sentiments on behalf of CEGA. She said: "CEGA is thrilled to collaborate with PEP on the fellowship program and further invest in its research network to generate high-quality, locally-relevant evidence, and contribute to more effective policy processes in their countries."

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