Royal Society of Chemistry Fellow Raises Hope for Africa

Prof. Gachanja explains to students how to use and maintain parts of a Gas Chromatography and Mass Specrometry machine at the Chemistry Laboratory, JKUAT

Prof. Gachanja explains to students how to use and maintain parts of a Gas Chromatography and Mass Specrometry machine at the Chemistry Laboratory, JKUAT

Antony Ngure Gachanja, a professor of Analytical and Environmental Chemistry at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has been inducted as a fellow to the prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry, United Kingdom. Prof. Gachanja was recognized for his two-decade professional contribution as a lecturer, researcher and consultant in the fields of chemistry and environmental science.

Responding to the news of his admission to the exclusive club of chemical scientists that is patroned by Her Majesty the Queen, Prof. Gachanja noted that it opened the oft elusive opportunity to work with the best minds in the field; raising prospects of advanced analytical chemistry research not only in Kenya but also in Africa.

“Analytical chemistry is the crucible upon which industrial development is anchored, yet it has not been prioritized by a good number of African countries,” opines Gachanja, “analytics is a trade item looked for all over the world.”

Chemical analyses for various substances originating in Africa continue to be undertaken either in Europe or United States of America before results are flown back. This, the researcher says, has constrained the pace and depth of analytical chemistry research in the continent.

“Besides lost time, such tests cannot be repeated  immediately,” explains Prof. Gachanja.

The scholar who appreciates his admission to the Society as a call to do more to advance the course of chemistry, has now set his attention to help found Analytical Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry in Kenya. He believe this will foster capacity building on analytical methods for local experts within government, industry and academia; to help the country leverage on the recent wave of oil, gas and mineral finds for socio-economic development.

For the last five years, under the auspices of the Pan African Chemistry Network, Prof. Gachanja has mounted trainings on Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) at JKUAT and University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This has seen a number participants drawn from African countries get trained on analytical methods as well as maintenance of the GC-MS equipment.

Prof. Gachanja earned his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the University of Nairobi in 1981 before proceeding for his Masters studies in Analytical Science and PhD in Analytical and Environmental Chemistry at the England’s University of Hull, graduating in 1983 and 1991 respectively. Between 1992 and 1994, the extensively published scholar undertook his post-doctoral studies at  the University of Plymouth, England, where he is currently a visiting scholar.

The don who is also a registered Environmental Lead Expert has consulted widely for various agencies including serving in the task force that wrote the water quality regulations (2006) and later drafted the air quality regulations for Kenya’s National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).

Gachanja who is also a member of advisory board of the Society’s Analytical Methods Journal becomes the second Kenyan to be admitted to the leading international body of chemical scientists after Prof. Shem Wandiga, of the University of Nairobi. The Society boasts over 49, 000 professionals spread across the world; who for the last 170 years, have shaped the evolution of chemical sciences.

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