From all of us at the IFS Secretariat, we wish you a joyful holiday season and a happy new year!

Published: 2020-12-21

What a year it has been: a global pandemic, protests and riots, national and local elections, online learning, remote work, social distancing, Zoom parties and more. Meanwhile, resolute scientists around the world continued working to solve our most urgent problems. Science did not quarantine in 2020, and thus IFS continued its essential work of supporting early career researchers in Low- and Lower-Middle-Income Countries.

Nighisty Ghezae, DirectorNighisty Ghezae, IFS Director

As we reflect on the year now ending, we can all feel pride in what we accomplished, from the uninterrupted efforts to announce the 2020 call, to processing a record number of applications, to a year of transition into our new Strategy 2021-2030, Investing in Future Scientists. At the same time, like many organisations, IFS has been affected by changes in the development and funding landscape, and we look ahead to more clarity in 2021 as we respond and adapt.

As always, our success is possible because of the scientific passion of our grantees and alumni, the hard work of our small and mighty staff at the IFS Secretariat, the dedication of our Scientific Advisory Committee members, our collaborations with strategic partners, and the financial contributions of our donors, as well as the strong leadership of our Board of Trustees.

Together, we have:

  • Documented evidence of numerous impacts from IFS’s support for the research of early career scientists, in immediate, near-term and long-lasting ways, in villages, forests, fields, policy discussions, government practices and the global scientific community
  • Organised and participated in 11 virtual events on topics such as communication to a non-scientific audience, COVID, food security, freshwater tenure rights, “soft skills” for scientists, water and agricultural systems, and women in science
  • Provided mentoring and coaching support to the ongoing research projects of 433 grantees, along with those finishing up 72 individual and 40 collaborative grants from 2016
  • Received and reviewed 2112 completed applications for individual research grants, of which 168 were approved for funding
  • Processed 47 purchase orders for laboratory equipment and materials
  • Transitioned through 2020 from the previous Strategy 2011-2020 to the new Strategy 2021-2030, by trying new elements such as revised eligibility criteria, grant amounts and the Advanced Grant, and
  • Responded to COVID by ensuring the safety of our staff, renegotiating expectations and deliverables for around 500 ongoing projects, and taking the opportunity of an initiative to collaborate with Philippines-based SEARCA on a call for research on pandemic-related food security issues in Southeast Asia.

The ways in which IFS and other organisations are responding to the COVID pandemic exemplifies how scientific research can make the difference between life and death in countries where this capacity exists. The reality is that the benefits of science remain a distant prospect for many, especially in countries whose scientific talent goes largely untapped. Thus, the work of IFS is more relevant than ever.

Our new Strategy represents an evolution in our approach to enhancing research capacity, incorporating what we have learned and reflecting changes in the contemporary context. While IFS continues to emphasise the quality and development relevance of the research it funds, the new Strategy sets out the case for better focusing of resources on supporting the promising early career scientists who are fundamental to increasing science capacity and to addressing both national and global challenges.

So as the calendar page turns to a new year, let me say how much I appreciate your continued loyalty and support. It is an honour for me to be the IFS Director and I look forward to a successful 2021.

With thanks 

Nighisty Ghezae



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