UP doctoral student wins prestigious fellowship for Information Technology research.

Posted on July 01, 2011

The recipients of the ten 2011 L’Oréal-UNESCO Regional Fellowships for Women in Science in Sub-Saharan Africa were announced in Johanneburg on 30 June. Ms Madeleine Bihina Bella, is from Cameroon, but is conducting her research at UP.The title of her PhD study is Operational Digital Forensics for Mobile Applications. It addresses the limitations of troubleshooting with regard to failure analysis of complex mobile systems.

Mobile applications have become accessible by a large number of people through mobile phones and other mobile devices. These are also increasingly used as a means for economic development in rural communities and emerging economies as it facilitate the exchange of information, services and even money between remote locations. As technology is advancing and customers are continuously demanding more innovative products, the applications are getting more and more complex, which increases the risk of failure.

Identifying the root causes of failure is necessary to prevent its reoccurrence. However, due to the complexity of the systems, it is a challenging task that is often overlooked and not well addressed in the IT industry, despite various regulatory requirements. This may lead to longer system downtime and lost revenue. The common response to a system failure is troubleshooting which has several limitations. Through her research, Ms Bella proposes a sound methodical approach to failure analysis through the emerging field of operational forensics.

The L’Oréal-UNESCO Fellowships were extended on a regional basis to include Sub-Saharan Africa for the first time in 2010. Five female scientists were recognized and rewarded with fellowships of US$20 000 towards the completion of their PhD research projects. Based on the extra-ordinary success of the programme, the number of fellowships were doubled in 2011. The aim of the programme is to remove at least one barrier (lack of funds) that talented women scientists face during their studies.

“The L’Oréal Corporate Foundation is committed to creating a place for women in the traditionally male-dominated sciences, and assisting these women to make progress in science,” says Celeste Tema, L’Oréal South Africa corporate communications manager responsible for the regional fellowship programme.

She adds that the fellowship programme increases the representation of women in global scientific circles, creating role models for future female generations.

The L’Oréal Corporate Foundation developed the For Women in Science partnership with UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in 1998. Since then, more than 900 women scientists have been distinguished by the annual science Awards or supported in the pursuit of their career through the various fellowship programmes.

The National and Regional Fellowships are an extension of the international programme, aiming to support even more women in achieving their goals in the world of science. The regional programme for Sub-Saharan Africa is organised in conjunction with the African Network of Scientific and Technological Institutions (ANSTI) and was officially launched in 2009. Applications for the 2011 Fellowship closed on December 31, 2010. It is open to all women scientists up to the age of 40 who are nationals or permanent residents of any country in Sub-Saharan Africa, working towards their PhD in all fields of science.

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