fellowship program

Open Doors Fellowship Program 2024 For Women Researchers In Africa: Apply Now!

fellowship program

Introduction to the Open Doors Fellowship Program 2024

Applications are now open for the Open Doors Fellowship Program 2024 for women researchers in Africa. The Open Doors Fellowship Program for women researchers in Africa is a holistic program that shall target women researchers in Africa to help them acquire the necessary hard and soft skills to strengthen their placements within their hosting institutions and, ultimately, avoid dropout before their consolidation stage. Creating an awareness culture within their hosting institutions about recruiting women, supporting them along their tenure track, and adapting policies is also paramount to preventing women’s dropping out of STEM research and ensuring the next generation of mentors and role models for the younger generation of scientists.

Our fellowship program intends to address the needs of early and mid-career women scientists researching at international research centres and universities in agricultural-related fields in agro-biotechnology, plant breeding, molecular biology and genetics, microbiology, chemical ecology, and plant and soil health. Fellows should be in the process of starting up or consolidating their research teams, regardless of whether they hold a project-based research position.

Eligibility Criteria for the Open Doors Fellowship Program

  • Women researchers in post-doc positions (for at least three years) and mid-career positions experience challenges in progressing in their career path due to limited access to capacity-building opportunities and international networks.
  • Women researchers can demonstrate that they are implementing their ongoing research in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, or South Africa.
  • Women with an employment contract in an international research centre or university in any of the countries listed above for the fellowship’s time (2023-2025a)
  • Women researchers with an active line of research in the following agricultural-related fields: agro-biotechnology, plant breeding, molecular biology and genetics, microbiology, chemical ecology, plant and soil health.
  • Women researchers who are supervising MSc or PhD students and supporting staff.

Selection Criteria for the Fellowship Program

There are two modalities in which applicants in Africa and the research institutions in Belgium can generate a research project to drive the research stage in Belgium and channel a research collaboration throughout the duration of the Open Doors Fellowship Program.

  • Modality A: Applicants align with the scope and requirements of the open slots offered by the Belgian research laboratories.
  • Modality B: Applicants create a joint project with a counterpart in a Belgian research laboratory of their choice to open a specific slot.

The VIB-IPBO committee will conduct the first round of selection of the most suitable candidates based on the excellence of their proposal and the impact of their short research stay. The shortlisted candidates will be called for an online interview in early February 2024 for the final selection process. Based on the interviews, the names of the successful applicants to the Open Doors 2024 program will be announced in the second week of February 2024 on our website.

Benefits Of The Open Doors Fellowship Program

Through the Open Doors, women will enhance their leadership and communication skills and expand their network of colleagues and mentors in Africa and Belgium. Therefore, Open Doors is a fellowship program where women will improve their competencies and benefit from the training opportunities to increase their chances of leading and participating in new projects, accessing better research resources, and increasing their publication success. 

Program Duration

The recipients of the Open Doors award are scheduled to arrive in Belgium on May 1, 2024. During their short research stay, fellows may choose a duration of no less than eight weeks (minimum period) and no more than 12 weeks. The VIB-IPBO team will organise the paperwork to travel to Belgium, purchase flight tickets, and find suitable accommodation for the fellows in Belgium.

Documents to fulfil the application process

  • A duly filled-out application (Template for Modality A or B)
  • A motivation letter from the candidate
  • A maximum 3-page CV. Please note that a CV with more than three pages will not be reviewed.
  • Soft copies of the academic transcripts of the PhD and the diploma
  • A list of publications, including papers, book chapters, technical reviews in indexed journals, and patents Only articles in the Web of Science: Master Journal List will be considered valid publications [1].
  • A signed letter from the applicant’s direct supervisor to indicate how she or he intends to support the fellow in completing her training program[2]
  • An official signed letter from the Human Resources Office of the applicant’s institution to prove that the applicant has a valid contract in SSA for the duration of the fellowship. The letter should also indicate what support the fellow will receive during the training period. An HR focal point should commit to participating in the four webinars related to gender-equitable practices in the workplace during the 20 months of the fellowship.
  • A signed letter from the research centre in Belgium supporting the applicant’s short research stay (only for Modality B applications)

All these documents are mandatory for a valid application. Submissions shall be reviewed upon receipt of the documents via e-mail to ipbo@vib-ugent.be. Incomplete applications will be notified via e-mail to the applicants, who will have ten days to provide the missing documents. After this period, incomplete applications will be rejected.

  1. Publications submitted, accepted, or in press: Indicate the date of submission or acceptance and the number of pages submitted. For publications, use the following format: Full authorship as it appears or as it will appear in the original publication (with your name in bold): Year, Title, Publication name and volume, First and last page numbers. Patents: Include the title and names of joint inventors. Posters: Indicate the presenting author with an asterisk (*). Example: Surname, X.X.*. Conferences: Indicate whether institutional, regional, provincial, national or international. Make a distinction between oral and poster presentations. In all cases, indicate whether the publication resulted from work done in the process of completing your undergraduate, master’s or doctoral degree or from other relevant work experience. Updates to your publication record will not be accepted after the application has been submitted.
  2. This includes not only, actions to support the fellow to keep her research going in Africa while the fellow is in Belgium; the commitment of the supervisor to participate in online seminars related to gender-sensitive and gender-equitable practices in the workplace; support the fellow to organize activities meant to increase the visibility of her research; or avail time for training activities of the ODPF.

How To Apply 

Ready to apply? Click the link below to visit the official announcement page for more details before you begin your application.

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