On 9 March – Commonwealth Day – the ACU brought together bright minds from across the Commonwealth to meet our Patron, The Duchess of Sussex, at Buckingham Palace, ahead of the Commonwealth Service.
The Duchess spoke with Scholars studying and researching climate and the environment, sustainable cities, health, and innovation and technology. The group included Commonwealth Scholars, Chevening Scholars and an ACU Blue Charter Fellow from 11 Commonwealth countries in total – all of whom will use the skills and knowledge they gain while studying in the UK to make a difference when they return to their home countries. The ACU is proud to manage these scholarship schemes.
These Scholars are the next generation of leaders, committed to tackling the global challenges we all face: cleaning up plastic pollution in our oceans, helping to build more sustainable cities, improving health outcomes for citizens, and supporting decent work and economic growth.
The ACU is addressing these and many more challenges through its network of over 500 universities, including initiatives such as our Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network, Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships, and our Higher Education and the SDGs Network.
Dr Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the ACU, said ‘These Scholars demonstrate the brilliance, diversity and strength of the Commonwealth, and Commonwealth Day was a fitting occasion to bring these changemakers together to showcase their life-changing research and the impact it will have. Since The Duchess became Patron in January last year, we have worked with her to raise the profile of higher education as a massive force for good in building societies in the Commonwealth and beyond. We thank The Duchess for her support and look forward to her continuing Patronage and advocacy for the causes that matter to us both’.
About the Scholars
Climate and the environment
Mr Hashan Kokuhennadige is a Commonwealth Scholar from Sri Lanka, studying PhD Marine Biogeochemistry at the University of Southampton. His research focuses on studying oceanic carbon fluxes and processes in the Southeast Atlantic Ocean, South Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean by using an isotopic approach to understand how the oceans react to increased man-made CO2 levels.
Dr Timothy Biswick is an ACU Blue Charter Fellow from Malawi, researching microplastic pollution in Lake Malawi at the University of Leicester. His research aims to understand the extent of microplastic problems in Malawi, and design targeted interventions or clean-up measures to reduce the amount of plastics released into the environment.
Mr Jagodish Chandra Sarker is a Commonwealth Scholar from Bangladesh, studying PhD Chemistry at King's College London. His research aims to develop new kit for cancer imaging made from materials which are cheap, environmentally friendly and readily accessible.
Mrs Gayathri Divakara Naik is a Commonwealth Scholar from India, studying PhD International Environmental Law at SOAS University of London. She is examining the implications of water related subsidies on social and environmental equity in accessing groundwater in India and its regulations.
Ms Josiane Gakou Kakeu is a Commonwealth Scholar from Cameroon, studying PhD Environmental Management, Climate Change at the University of Leeds. Her research investigates the obstacles to the meaningful contribution of natural forests to the global fight against climate change.
Mr Bhargav Pandya is a Commonwealth Scholar from India, studying PhD Renewable Energy at the University of Birmingham. His research aims to develop a fuel cell coupled refrigeration system for refrigerated trucks, which will provide green refrigeration with ultra-low GHG emissions.
Mr Emmanuel Egbeyong Bechem is a Commonwealth Scholar from Cameroon, studying PhD Law at the University of Manchester. His research aims to advance a sustainable development-based approach to public-private partnerships (PPP) for infrastructure development.
Ms Halima Ali Abdullahi is a Commonwealth Scholar from Kenya, studying MSc Energy and Natural Resources at Queen Mary University of London. Her research explores the sustainable management of proceeds from natural resources in developing countries.
Mr Debayan Chatterjee is a Commonwealth Scholar from India, studying MSc Urban Development Planning at University College London. His research explores the effect of time-space planning on Indian cities, and argues that urban practitioners should start acknowledging temporality as their new reality.
Ms Ejiro Ikoko is a Commonwealth Scholar from Nigeria, studying MSc Transport Planning at the University of Leeds. His work focuses on developing and implementing policies and projects that will make the transport system sustainable – including accessibility, connectivity, land use, climate change, and travel behaviour that will help improve the standard of living.
Mr Rohit Pradeep Lahoti is a Commonwealth Scholar from India, studying MSc Urban Development Planning at University College London. His research looks at low income housing through the lens of marginalized communities and how can they become their own 'developers', in turn, engendering socio-spatial justice.
Ms Ayesha Sajid is a Commonwealth Scholar from Pakistan, studying PhD Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds. She is working on innovative approaches to overcome anti-microbial resistance in bacteria.
Dr Sandra Akinde is a Chevening Scholar from Nigeria, studying MSc Tropical Medicine and International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her research focuses on medical doctors working in low and middle income countries to enhance their evidence based decisions in tropical medicine, international health and underpinning disciplines.
Ms Zarina Amandi is a Chevening Scholar from Ghana, studying MSc Media, Communication and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Dr Lakmal Fonseka is a Commonwealth Scholar from Sri Lanka, studying PhD Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford. He is conducting research into how the innate immune response predisposes certain individuals to severe experiences of Dengue fever – a major global burden for counties with a tropical climate, for which there is currently no effective antiviral or vaccine.
Mr Eric Rucogoza is a Commonwealth Scholar from Rwanda, studying MSc Cancer and Therapeutics Health at Queen Mary University of London. His research explores how cancer develops and how it can be effectively and safely managed, with the aim of learning more about targeted and less toxic treatments for cancers affecting children.
Innovation and technology
Ms Sakshi Bathla is a Commonwealth Scholar from India, studying Split-site PhD Accounting and Finance at Sheffield Hallam University. She is working on analysing the effects of adopting international accounting standards on the Foreign Direct Investment in India and the UK.
Mr Nick Yap Han Lun is a Chevening Scholar from Malaysia, studying LLM Technology, Media and Telecommunications Law at Queen Mary University of London. His research focuses on the effective use of data protection laws to regulate smart devices which use voice-enabled assistants.
Ms Archana Kaliyaraj Selva Kumar is a Commonwealth Scholar from India, studying PhD Physical and Theoretical Chemistry at the University of Oxford. She is investigating the reaction kinetics of the electrolytes used in redox flow batteries, with the aim of developing large-scale flow batteries that will cater to energy storage needs globally.
Ms Ann Ndeke is a Commonwealth Scholar from Kenya, studying PhD Tourism and Hospitality at Sheffield Hallam University. Her area of research is local micro-entrepreneurship in the hospitality and tourism sector in Mombasa, Kenya, and how this can lead to sustainable and inclusive development.
Mr Tolulope Ogunmola is a Chevening Scholar from Nigeria, studying LLM Law at University College London. He runs a law firm committed to providing legal advice to start-up and emerging companies in Nigeria.
Mr Atchutananda Surampudi is a Commonwealth Scholar from India, studying PhD Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. His research aims to improve the efficiency and bandwidth of LiFi-based wireless receivers using infrared-links. LiFi uses light sources to access data.
Photo courtesy of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex / Chris Allerton