Research at Ashesi gets boost with new pathway for applied learning

December 6, 2019
As is typical when a semester winds down at Ashesi, many classes across campus are presenting their semester-long projects to the University community. From statistics projects to entrepreneurship ideas, campus is humming with such sessions. One of such was held in the Collins Courtyard on December 5th, with a group of students walking visitors through what they had learned over the last three months.

The students are pioneer members of a new Creative and Research Internship program launched at Ashesi this year; intended to enable students to pursue more projects of interest outside their regular academic course work while still earning credit. The program also enables faculty to identify strong student assistants to support research projects being driven by Ashesi’s academic departments.

This year, the Office of the Provost at Ashesi has introduced a series of new initiatives across campus to support and encourage research and innovation. The Professor Stephen Adei Studio for Research Excellence, located in Ashesi’s Research and Learning Building, was established to oversee these initiatives. Initiatives include the Archer-Cornfield Fellowship for post-doctoral students to support research and teaching in Engineering and Computer Science; increased support for faculty professional development and research capacity expansion; as well as deepened efforts to grow institutional ties focused on research. The Creative and Research Internship is one of these initiatives and received initial funding support from Founder and Principal of Botho Emerging Markets Group, Isaac Fukuo.


To join the program, students can submit a creative project or research proposal for evaluation by faculty. Students whose projects are approved and who can find a faculty supervisor, then work across the semester to meet a set of established goals and outcomes. Faculty may also submit research topics of interest, and students with matching interests can apply to work as a research assistant. Once selected, students meet with faculty every week to discuss their progress, get feedback and help towards resolving any challenges they may be facing.

“We have students with a diversity of interests that may not be directly taught in class,” says William Annoh ‘16, who works within the Office of the Provost and coordinates the Research Studio’s activities. “A student in Engineering may have interests in film-making, for example, and would previously have had to pursue this as an added activity. This course option gives such a student the flexibility to develop their skills and knowledge in alternative interest areas while maintaining the rigor of academic work.”

Students Joyce Akey ’21 and Jean Roberts 21, for example, worked with Engineering faculty Dr. Elena Rosca to develop a mathematical model for the immune system’s response to cancer. The goal of the model is to allow researchers to more easily test the efficiency of specific cancer treatments. Libehela Kabi ’20 also worked with Humanities faculty Dr. Oduro-Frimpong, to establish a base of research around mental health, in preparation for the writing of a novel aimed at creating more awareness about the subject.


Other projects highlighted at the exhibition included a proposed redesign for inflatable wings that could make it easier to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles, led by Lloyd Teta ’21; a bicycle-powered bulk maize sheller built by Oheneba Aggrey 21; and a non-intrusive sensor for detecting the presence of malaria parasites in blood, developed by Emmanuella Achama-Sarfo Anti ’21. All three are Engineering students, and projects were supervised by Engineering faculty Dr. Heather Beem.

Engineering faculty Dr. Danyuo Yiporo also worked with student Kudakwashe Nhanga ’21 to develop a more efficient cooking stove for rural Ghana; while Business student, Judith Dembaremba ’21 worked with faculty Esther Laryea to conduct research on how cultural norms could affect financial inclusion goals. Business student Sean Ofori-Addo ‘21 also worked with faculty Dr. Stephen Armah, to assess the pros and cons of pursuing meritocracy in Ghana’s public sector.

The projects represent a sample of the breadth of skills and interests within the Ashesi community. And with the success of the initial class now serving as a benchmark, William Annoh believes that there is real enthusiasm to see the program developed further.


“Research funding support allows such initiatives to thrive at Ashesi,” adds William. “It enables more faculty and students to participate in research and creates room for things like stronger prototype development and testing. We are hoping that the additional pathways created to enable both faculty and students to more effectively pursue research here at Ashesi. And in the long term Ashesi can become as known for its applied research depth, as it is for its effective teaching and learning.”


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