In her work this semester at the Center for African studies, Carli Snyder hopes gain more knowledge and insight on how she can forward the Center as much as possible in my last semester. She wants to make the most of the hours she spend working, whether that means learning from faculty members or interacting with the general student body. Carli would like to work with her peers on creating events that could create more awareness about the Center and using different skills as a collaborate effort to do so.

Long term, Carli’s work goals include empowering women through microfinancing and education in East Africa. Although she has a regional interest in East Africa, she would like to expand her knowledge to focus on Muslim communities in other areas of Africa. Carli believes that humanitarian aid can come in many forms and would like to practice in a way that does not create Western dependency, marginalize different religious groups or create stigmas. She is excited to work with the Center as it will provide her with a foundation to learn from African Studies faculty as well as work closely with other students toward a common goal.

CAS News Bulletin- Week of April 2, 2018

Morgan Ungrady is a 4th year Political Science major. She has a specialty in International Relations as well as a minor in French. Morgan has been involved with the Center for African Studies through research and working groups and is looking forward to developing her position within the Center. Morgan’s interest in the Center stemmed from the incredible faculty that she has had the pleasure of meeting, taking courses with, and doing research with.

Morgan is currently conducting research with a faculty member, Dr. Sebastian Elischer, through the Junior Fellows Program on Civil-Military Relations and jihadi occupations in Mali and Chad. This research, as well as courses she has taken pertaining to governance in Africa has solidified her passions and interests. She sustains a focus on Francophone Africa regarding development in government structures, military regimes, and developmental economics. Morgan is excited to guide fellow undergraduate students that are interested in African Studies by having conversations with them about what the discipline entails and all that it offers. She is also honored to work further with the talented and inspiring faculty members in the Center for African Studies.

Morgan is graduating in May of 2018 and she will move to Boston soon after to enter the workforce. She will attend law school after one or two years of working to pursue International Human Rights Law- which is a confluence of all of her passions in a career. Her goal is to work in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands, representing groups of peoples in Francophone Africa that have been mistreated and whose voices are not being heard in their own countries.


CAS News Bulletin- Week of March 26, 2018

Melody Mullally is a senior Undergraduate student in Anthropology, History, and Botany. In Spring of 2017, she participated in the University of Florida’s study abroad program in Ethiopia, researching Stone Age archaeology with Dr. Steven Brandt. While visiting Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, she worked in the National Museum at Addis Ababa University. There, she studied Stone Age technology and experimental archaeology, tested theories about modern human dispersal, and managed lithic artifacts in a cultural resource context. While working in Sodo, a region in Southern Ethiopia, she familiarized herself with field sessions in African Archaeology and learned applications of Geographic Information System technology (GIS), excavation methodology, data assessment, and archival work. After the study abroad session came to a close, she travelled to Axum, Mekele, and Lalibela in Northern Ethiopia. There, her fascination with Ethiopia in general was solidified, and she began the complex process of learning about Ethiopia’s extensive and mysterious history.

Her prospective post-graduate research centers on the examination of state formation of the pre-Aksumite and Aksumite era in Northern Ethiopia. She wishes to examine cultural and technological transmissions of this time period, between the Nile Delta, migrations and diffusions from across the Red Sea, and contacts with the Greco-Roman world, as these factors played an essential role in synthesizing the identity of Ethiopia within the archaeological record. She wishes to employ elements of cognitive archaeology and ethnoarchaeology to assess state formation and increasing social complexities that contributed to the birth of the Aksum Empire. Additionally, she wishes to employ archaeobotanical approaches, such as food production and agricultural complexity arising in conjunction with societal complexity in Northern Ethiopia. In tandem with researching the pre-Aksumite and Aksumite era, she is interested in community archaeology, community outreach projects in the Tigray region, and cultural resource management in general. She has also participated in a bioarchaeology project in Italy through the University of Pisa, and is currently president of the Ethnoecology Society at the University of Florida.


CAS News Bulletin- Week of March 19, 2018

Mouhamadou Hoyeck is a 4th year political science major and African Studies minor. Throughout his two years spent at the University of Florida as an undergraduate student, Mouhamadou has participated extensively in multiple extracurricular activities. He is currently one of the public relations directors of the African Student Union at UF. He says that joining this organization was a life changing experience since it gave him the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds and share ideas about the continent.

His most recent achievement was being accepted as a Center for African Studies Ambassador. This is a position that will allow him to get in touch with many undergraduate students during the Spring semester and encourage them to take courses offered by the Center for African studies.   Academically, Mouhamadou took many interdisciplinary courses about Africa while at UF, and that helped him expand my knowledge of the continent. Minoring in African Studies and getting to know the talented, intellectual, and kind people in the Center for African Studies here at UF was one of the best decisions he has made so far.

As a political science student, Mouhamadou is interested in democratic institutions, regimes types, the Sahel, African politics, and youth activism in Africa. Currently, he is taking a research class about Afrofuturism. For the class’s final project he is writing a paper that argues youth movements in Senegal and Burkina Faso could be a potential solution to stop terrorist recruitments in the Sahel and determine the type of democracy the region needs. He hopes to develop one of his papers from Spring 2017, evaluating the levels of democracies in the Sahel, into a thesis.

After graduating this semester, Mouhamadou will be attending graduate school to expand his knowledge in African politics. His ultimate goal is to represent his country, Senegal, at the United Nations someday and work on resolutions that will make the world a better place where peace becomes a reality. He would also like to bring about institutional changes in his country and strive to make government positions more accessible to the youth.


CAS News Bulletin- Week of March 12, 2018

Elisabeth Rios-Brooks is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Florida. She is currently double majoring in Anthropology and International Studies with a focus on Africa. Her involvement throughout her time at UF has consisted of a myriad of leadership positions related to African studies. Her most noteworthy, being Showcase Director for the African Student Union. In this position, Elisabeth is tasked with putting together ASU’s biggest event of the year which is themed “Umoja: The Threads of Africa.”

Elisabeth is also a University Scholar currently conducting fieldwork on African American Vernacular English at UF. She is hoping to not only travel to Florida Undergraduate Research Conference but also get published in UF’s Journal of Undergraduate Research. Elisabeth is also a student intern at the Harn Museum of Art under the African Curatorial Department. In the future, she hopes to continue conducting research on African studies and developing as a student of African studies.


CAS News Bulletin- Week of February 26, 2018

Ayobami Simeon Edun is a first-year master’s student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Florida. He graduated from Federal University of Technology Akure, Nigeria in the top 3% of his class having succeeded in a wide range of courses. He also engaged in diverse projects ranging in focus from networking, telecommunications, and power, which spurred his interest in gaining industry experience in these areas before commencing graduate study. He worked as an Engineer first in the Telecoms industry and later in the Power sector. The experience he had in the industry coupled with the inefficiencies and lack in these sectors in his country and Africa motivated him to begin his graduate study at the University of Florida.

One of his professional interests is addressing the widening technology gap between developed and developing countries. He currently works with Dr. Ann Gordon-Ross who is actively engaged in areas of embedded systems and reconfigurable computing with experience of over a decade. His current research project, “Dynamic Scheduling of user applications on heterogeneous/homogeneous cores ensuring minimal energy consumption and maintaining the quality of Service,” revolves around computer architecture and caches, which are used to speed up computer performance.


In his Ph.D., he aims at bringing a synergy to networks, IoT, embedded systems and machines, learning to develop solutions to the problems in Africa’s IT sector.  His goal is to use knowledge learned to implement change in Nigeria and Africa at large, where the advancement of technology has not been prevalent. His current research will prepare him for the future where he plans to delve into embedded systems and build a base in Africa where smart devices will be developed for our own use and inculcated into our networks. He is also looking into smart farming with wireless sensors, smart grids and cyber-physical systems especially in Nigeria where the power sector has been a major issue.

CAS News Bulletin- Week of February 19, 2018

Dan Eizenga is a PhD Student in Political Science focused on the Sahel. During his first two years as a PhD Student, Dan benefitted from Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships to study Arabic, which also enabled him to spend the summer of 2012 at the Arabic Language Institute in Fez. He then became a Research Assistant for the Sahel Research Group as part of the Minerva Initiative grant which funded the “Institutional Reform, Social Change, and Stability in Sahelian Africa” project led by Leonardo Villalón. With support from this project, as well as pre-doctoral fieldwork grants from the Department of Political Science and Center for African Studies, Dan was able to conduct roughly two years of fieldwork for his dissertation in Chad, Burkina Faso, and Senegal. His dissertation examines how different configurations of institutions (political parties, the military, and traditional institutions) create various pathways for political elites to manage pressures for political liberalization from the opposition and civil society, following the adoption of multiparty elections.

Thanks to generous support from Center for African Studies, the Sahel Research Group, the Department of Political Science and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dan has presented his research at multiple academic conferences in the United States, Canada, France, and Senegal including multiple African Studies Association annual meetings and a European Conference on African Studies. He has also given presentations to incoming U.S. Ambassadors to Burkina Faso and Chad at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C.

Dan notes that one of his most memorable presentations took place here at the University of Florida as part of the 2017 Gwendolen M. Carter Conference, “On the Edge: What Future for the African Sahel?” During that semester, he taught his first independent course, “Sahelian Challenges,” based on the topics covered at the Carter Conference. This proved to be what Dan considers one of the most rewarding professional experiences he has had at UF, confirming his desire to teach students in African Studies and connect with other scholars working on the Sahel.

Dan has also begun to contribute to the public discourse on democratization in Africa with publications appearing in The Monkey Cage, Africa is a Country, Centre FrancoPaix, and the OECD’s West African Papers series. In the latest OECD West African Paper, Dan and the UF Sahel Research Group look at the short and long-term outlook for security and political stability in Chad. Read it here.

Dan hopes to graduate this summer, but is certain that graduation will not mark the end of his collaborations with the thriving community of Africanists supported by the Center for African Studies.

CAS News Bulletin- Week of February 12, 2018

Kehinde Ojo is a second-year master’s student in the Department of Food and Resource Economics, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Florida. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Tallahassee, Florida in the year 2016. She came to the United States in 2015 as an exchange student to finish her bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness at FAMU after which she commenced her master’s degree program in Fall 2016 at University of Florida.

During her undergraduate degree, she did an internship with a cocoa firm in Nigeria. Through this experience, she became interested in Nigeria’s cocoa industry, especially since Nigeria is the fourth largest producer of cocoa in the world and third largest exporter of cocoa, exporting about 96% of its cocoa production. She views the cocoa industry as a viable avenue of growth for Nigeria’s economy—cocoa is a non-renewable resource and in the 1960s, cocoa production aided the agricultural sector in becoming the main source of the country’s economic growth before the discovery of petroleum in the early 1970s. Following Nigeria’s discovery of petroleum, the agricultural sector exists in a dilapidated state; more so, most of the agriculture producers live in the rural areas of the country and therefore, lack basic infrastructural amenities. Based on the dismal situation of the cocoa industry, Ojo became deeply interested in researching ways to improve the level of agricultural production in Nigeria. Consequently, in her senior year in college, she conducted a project on “Estimating the Economic Implication of Expanding Cocoa production in Nigeria.”

In 2016, when she started her master’s program, she was selected as an African student in Food and Resource Economics Department to work with a Dr. John VanSickle on a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded grant to Rwanda and Nepal on Cost of Production and Competitiveness of Production of Milk in each of the countries. She traveled to Rwanda and Nepal for data collection in summer 2017, where she and her advisor had several meetings with agricultural stakeholders in each country to build a consensus cost budget and identify the risks that are involved in milk production. She is currently writing her Master thesis on “Cost of Production and Competitiveness of Production of Milk in Nepal” addressing one of the major factors limiting Nepal milk production—the no-slaughtering policy. Currently, dairy farmers are not allowed to slaughter cattle due to religious and political reasons. In addition, they are not permitted to export cattle; anyone caught exporting cattle is subject to 20 years imprisonment. Ojo hopes research results will help Nepal Government in providing policy changes to benefit Nepalese dairy farmers. She hopes to commence her Ph.D. program in Fall 2018 where she can be fully engaged in Agricultural production and development related research.


CAS News Bulletin- Week of February 5, 2018

Laurin Baumgardt is a first year PhD student in Anthropology. His prospective PhD research centers on questions of urban innovation, humanitarian design, and urban planning strategies. The research will be based on fieldwork in urban South Africa, in which issues of inequality, race, and social change are widely and publicly discussed. Laurin’s research interests and focus on South Africa began with his Master’s research. It investigated people’s future projections and aspirations in light of particular infrastructural conditions and assemblages. Of particularly fascination to him was the co-occurrence of the constant deterioration of basic services in conjunction with non-governmental attempts to research and upgrade infrastructure. In 2016, Laurin briefly worked on a non-governmental solar-panel project in a semi-urban informal settlement in the Cape Town region. This project gravitated around the idea of providing sustainable energy for people while they were waiting for a more reliable grid-connection to be provided by the government. Laurin lived in South Africa for a year in order to pursue additional graduate studies at Stellenbosch University, for which the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD awarded him funding.

In his PhD research, Laurin proposes to analyze the lived experiences of experts such as government planners, engineers and employees of private and non-governmental design agencies. These experts and employees have become involved in the life of infrastructure and play a great part in the story of how hopes, fears, innovation, violence, and future aspirations were and are inscribed into and mediated by particular infrastructures and built environments. Laurin hopes to carry out new fieldwork and in-depth interviews in Johannesburg and Cape Town. His conceptual focus will be on “design” and its valued norms of future making, innovation, functionality, and creativity as  “design” has come to be a powerful political driving force that is adapted by policy makers, planners and governments. New design solutions and innovative approaches are promoted by governments in order to disguise, speed up, or eclipse more serious decision-making processes and to seemingly provide a quick “fix” for long-term issues of inequality, service delivery, and policy planning. Major advantages of the adoption of design into politics is that it attracts attention, comes with an aura of progress, optimization and improvement, and also appears to have no history and no precursors due to its eternal newness.

Currently, Laurin is working on a new manuscript for publication, provisionally entitled “In/visible Infrastructure: Thinking (along) with Martin Heidegger about Infrastructural Breakdowns in South Africa.” It brings together his philosophical training, as well as anthropological interests, with South Africa’s conflictual politics that are centrally fought and debated over on infrastructural terrains, such as crumbling or failing housing projects, lacking sanitation facilities and water shortages, or unwanted prepaid electricity supply.


CAS News Bulletin- Week of January 22, 2018

Emmanuel Akande is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Department of Food and Resource Economics (FRE). He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Economics from University of Lagos, Nigeria, in 2008 where he graduated at the top rank of his class. He obtained a Master of Arts (M.A) in Economics in 2012 from Florida State University (FSU). As a master’s student, he published a paper titled “The Investment ShockSources of Fluctuations in a Small Open Economy” and also worked as a researcher/project manager at the Florida State University Center for Economic and Forecasting Analysis (FSU-CEFA) for 2 years. His research interests in the Ph.D. program include applied econometrics, resource and environmental economics and production economics. These research interests relate to his professional goal of explaining the relationship between production activities and the preservation of our natural resources and environment.

In 2017, Emmanuel was nominated by his college to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ (CALS) Council for Teaching Enhancement and Innovation.  This council serves in an advisory capacity to the Dean of CALS on the topics and issues related to enhanced and innovative teaching. More importantly, the council provides recommendations to the Dean and IFAS Faculty Assembly. In 2016, Emmanuel was elected Mayor of Tanglewood village, a graduate housing community. In this role, he organized a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) symposium for children, among his other duties. This position also obligated him to reach out to graduate students of different cultures and nationalities. Emmanuel has been involved in leadership positions in many other organizations during his time at UF.

In the future, Emmanuel hopes to become part of the president’s economic team in Nigeria. As an office holder in that capacity, he will seek to embrace costless but reliable polices that would provide economic tools in resource development and sustainability.


CAS News Bulletin- Week of January 15, 2018