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45 Years of Supporting Young Scientists Across the World – and Counting!

Published: 2017-05-26

Dear Members of the IFS Family On the occasion of our 45th anniversary as an international community that has supported early-career scientists across the globe, we at the IFS Secretariat want to say THANK YOU to all current and former grantees, staff, advisers, board members, partner organizations and funders, and especially to our founders. They first came together at the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs in Venice in 1965, where one of their recommendations was to establish the International Foundation for Science “in order to address the stultifying conditions under which younger faculty members in the universities of developing countries are attempting to do research.”

Nighisty Ghezae, DirectorNighisty Ghezae, IFS Director

On 26 May 1972 – backed by 16 national academies of science – IFS was established in Stockholm as a non-governmental organisation with the unique dual role of being a research council and a capacity-building organization that we have maintained until today. As the former, we have made over 8,000 small competitive research grants to young scientists in 105 countries in Asia and Pacific (31%), Latin America and the Caribbean (28%), the Middle East and North Africa (6%), and Sub-Saharan Africa (35%). As the latter, we have been involved in hundreds of activities in skills development, equipment procurement and support, travel grants, laboratory visits, mentoring, networking and more.

 IFS’s mission remains the same: “to contribute towards strengthening the capability of young men and women scientists in developing countries not only to conduct relevant and high quality research, but to enhance opportunities to put it into use in their home environments.” However, we continue to evolve and adapt to address current world circumstances, as evidenced in our 10-year strategy (2011-20) that is aligned with science, technology and innovation targets of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The strategy groups IFS research area support into three clusters:

 Biological Resources in Terrestrial Systems

  • Water and Aquatic Resources
  • Food Security, Dietary Diversity and Healthy Livelihoods

 We are implementing the strategy through our three approaches:

 Individual research grants (with capability-enhancing support)

  • Collaborative research grants (with an interdisciplinary, inter-country emphasis)
  • Contributing innovation (with a focus on putting research into use and facilitating advocacy for change)

 We asked one of our advisers who has been around since the beginning, Dr Carlos Galina Hidalgo from Mexico, to offer some reflections on IFS:

 In my humble view, there is no doubt about the benefits that IFS has afforded to scientists in the developing world. They were strongly supported by a considerable number of advisers with proven scientific careers, who gave their time to revise proposals and help potential grantees to improve their research endeavors. IFS was the type of organization which scientists in developing countries needed – small and friendly – with direct individual contact. IFS has always being willing to modify its operation by adding initiatives such as the mentorship program, whereby established scientists tutored grantees with common research interests, and through its varied efforts to facilitate direct regional communication among scientists.

 Dr Hidalgo also reminded us of particular issues that need addressing as we strive to be responsive to the changing global research and funding landscape, including maintaining the high quality of our grantees’ research, taking advantage of digital internet-driven means of communication and information exchange, strengthening the connections between scientists being trained locally and elsewhere, and tapping into the strength of IFS’s growing alumni community.

 IFS grantees and alumni are contributing to significant changes in our world, through their motivation toward scientific discovery, their passion to persevere in their work and studies, and their commitment to research results that have immediate and long-lasting impacts and use in their communities and wider societies, and on our planet.

 With pride in the past and present achievements of the IFS family, looking ahead to the future, we  will step up our efforts to leverage science, technology and innovation to contribute actively to the Sustainable Development Goals. Our special niche remains supporting young scientists so that they can reach their full potentials.

With gratitude

Nighisty Ghezae



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