Talks all Africa

Mar 312011
Authors: Erin Udell

Fort Collins got a little taste of Africa on Wednesday and Thursday as CSU researchers, faculty members and even a speaker from Kenya came together in the Fort Collins Hilton to discuss everything from economic development to agriculture to elephant circumcision.

More than 225 members of the CSU and Fort Collins communities gathered to be a part of “Africa Rising,” this year’s CSU Research Colloquium, which focused on how the university could use research to benefit places across the world, like Africa.

“Sometimes you can get lost and tied up with your own work and not understand what others are doing around campus,” said Hank Gardner from CSU’s Vice President of Research office.

CSU has hosted 10 research colloquiums in the past, some focused on infectious diseases, the environment and bio fuels.

On the heels of a two-week trip to Kenya and Ethiopia in February, Carl Hammerdorfer, CSU’s director of Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise and chairman of the colloquium on Africa, spoke about understanding how much science and Africa-focused research comes out of university programs.

“CSU already plays a major role in research,” Hammerdorfer said. “We want to increase CSU’s role in research and commercial solutions.”

The colloquium featured a panel of CSU professors discussing the opportunities and challenges of building businesses in Africa as well as the economics of tourism development.

Ajay Jha, a professor in CSU’s Department of
Agriculture, also spoke about the international opportunities available to land grant universities, a topic that Gardner was passionate about.

“This was an opportunity for CSU to take a topic with global relevance, which also fits well with us as a land-grant university,” Gardner said.

The colloquium also featured keynote speakers Haron Wachira and Timothy Nzioka.

Wachira, an Ashoka Fellow, spoke of his experiences and partnership with the people of rural Kenya.

Nzioka, a senior advisor to the president of the U.S. African Development Foundation, discussed “Enterprise Opportunities for the Poorest of the Poor,” speaking about his experiences in increasing incomes for the rural poor.

Aside from speeches and discussions, “Rising Africa” also featured African art and poetry on Wednesday evening, awarding undergraduate CSU art students with prizes for a poster competition.

“I actually learned quite a lot about things I didn’t know or didn’t realize were happening,” said JoLynn Troudt, a lab manager and researcher in CSU’s Izzo laboratory. “We thought it was very good.”

Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at

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