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Introducing the Shaun Johnson Memorial Scholars of 2024

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Introducing the Shaun Johnson Memorial Scholars of 2024

The MRF is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2024 Shaun Johnson Memorial Scholarships for doctoral study in the UK. The successful candidates are Melody Asukile (Zambia & University of Cape Town, 2016) and Praise Tembu (Malawi & Rhodes University, 2023). As always the pool of applications was strong, and we wish Melody and Praise all the best for this next important step in their academic careers!

Published 22 April 2024

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Melody Asukile

A proud Zambian citizen, Melody currently works as a neurologist and epileptologist. She does lecture work, research, and consults as a neurologist at the University of Zambia and University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia. She also directs the national electroencephalography and electromyography laboratories at the University.

Melody’s area of research: Diagnose and treat focal epilepsy in Zambia and South Africa

Melody hopes to complete her PhD project at the University College London. Her research will investigate the diagnosis and treatment of focal epilepsy in resource-limited countries, with a focus on Zambia and South Africa. She hopes to describe the prevalence and common causes of focal epilepsy, and further employ the use of artificial intelligence programmes to enhance magnetic resonance brain imaging results to aid in identifying focal brain lesions.

Through her studies, she also wants to improve patient access to more accurate epilepsy diagnosis and better selection for specialised epilepsy treatments, such as epilepsy surgery, in sub-Saharan Africa.

Praise Tembu

A born and bred Malawian, Praise has a research-based Honours degree in Science from Rhodes University. He was the second top science graduate in 2021, earning him the Basil Schonland Scholarship. For his family, this was a first, as he is the only one amongst his siblings who had the opportunity to make it this far on an academic journey. He is currently completing a Master of Science in biotechnology, also at Rhodes University.

Praise’s area of research: Investigate if affirmer molecules can revitalise mitochondria to promote healthier lifespans.

Praise’s PhD research will take place at Glasgow University. He will focus on how the human cells' energy centres, called mitochondria, weaken with age and contribute to many chronic diseases. He will explore the use of affirmers to potentially revitalise these "powerhouses."

Praise believes this has the potential to lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies for age-related diseases. He hopes to build research capacity and foster scientific leadership to empower a stronger African scientific community, and improved healthcare systems in Africa.

About the SJMS

The Shaun Johnson Memorial Scholarships, formerly known as the Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholarship, underwent a name change in 2020. Following a rigorous selection process and final interviews, the Mandela Rhodes Foundation (MRF) recommends two Mandela Rhodes Alumni to The Leverhulme Trust in London. The Leverhulme Trust then funds doctoral studies at recognised UK institutions of higher learning. This exclusive opportunity is available only to MRF alumni, adding significant value to the Mandela Rhodes experience. We extend our sincere gratitude to The Leverhulme Trust for their ongoing support, which empowers our exceptionally talented young academics to advance their leadership and academic endeavours.

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