ECC trip to Nairobi

The ECC Helsinki team spent nine wonderful days in Kenya in late January and early February 2024. The trip was an opportunity for the Helsinki and Nairobi members to meet face-to-face for the first time.

The group visited various faculties and research groups related to One Health research at the University of Nairobi, such as the KAVI Institute of Clinical Research, Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (CEMA), and the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Research. We were very much impressed by the valuable work done in virology, epidemiology, food science, and social studies, just mention a few research areas we got to know during the trip. We were warmly welcomed by the University of Nairobi’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stephen Kiama.

The ECC team at the University of Nairobi Main Campus.
The ECC team at the University of Nairobi Main Campus.

We also visited the Institute of Primate Research, a research centre dedicated to biomedical research and laboratory animal science, and the SWOP Clinic, which promotes health and well-being of sex workers, transgender people, and men who have sex with men. We got to know sustainable silk production and taste mulberry wine at Silk Origin Limited and had the chance to see behind the scenes in the storage rooms of the National Museum of Kenya, filled with bones and animal specimens.

One highlight of the trip was a safari at the Nairobi National Park. We had an early morning rise so that we could catch a sight of the rising sun and the wild animals while they were still active before the mid-day heat. The safari was not without its adrenaline rush, as we made a very close – almost too close! – encounter with a pair of rhinos. In the afternoon, we got to calm our nerves by feeding the giraffes at the Giraffe Centre.

The ECC team feeding Eddie the Giraffe at the Giraffe Centre.
The ECC team feeding Eddie the Giraffe at the Giraffe Centre.

After five days in Nairobi, we hopped on a bus and headed to the Taita Research Station, located in Wundanyi in southeastern Kenya, close the border of Tanzania. The station was established by the University of Helsinki in 2011 and focusses on geography and sustainability science, geosciences, and atmospheric, biological, and environmental sciences. On the first day, we hiked through a cloud forest and enjoyed lunch on top of a small mountain. On the second day, we had a safari in the Lumo Community Wildlife Conservancy and heard about the research projects going on at the station. The trip to Taita ended with a party on the station’s roof terrace, where Afrobeats mixed with Käärijä’s Cha Cha Cha.

Sunrise in the Taita Hills.
Sunrise in the Taita Hills.

The trip offered a valuable opportunity for the ECC mentors and mentees to create networks and research collaborations. Future will tell what these new connections will result in. One thing is for sure: the trip transformed the team into a real ECC family!

New mentees and mentors of ECC

We are excited to share the new ECC mentees and mentors. Again, we have a talented and versatile group of young and experienced researchers from Nairobi and Helsinki.

The chosen mentees are:
Abdirahman Barre, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Nairobi
Ahmad Al-Mustapha, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Helsinki
Paul Bangura, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Helsinki
Mert Erdin, Faculty of Medicine, Helsinki
Caroline Kawira,  Agriculture, Nairobi

Lydia Moraa Mageto, Veterinary Medicine/Public health, Nairobi
Teresia Njoki Kimani,  Faculty Health Sciences/ CEMA_Africa, Nairobi
Wyckliff Ngetich,  Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Nairobi
Noora Oertel, Faculty of Arts, Helsinki
Dismas Oketch,  Faculty of Health Sciences, Nairobi
Priscilla Osei, Faculty of Social Sciences, Helsinki
Henni Tuomala, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Helsinki

The chosen mentors are:
Dr. Magdalene Ameka,  KAVI /Department of Med Microbiology, Nairobi
Dr. Tequiero Abuom, Vet Clinical Studies, Nairobi
Prof George Chege Gitao,  Department of Veterinary Pathology, Microbiology and Parasitology, Nairobi
Ass. prof. Ravi Kant, Medical Microbiology, Helsinki
Dr. Lucy W Kivuti-Bitok,  Nursing, Nairobi
Ass. prof. Peter Krawczel, Research Centre for Animal Welfare, Helsinki
Prof Arniika Kuusisto, Early Childhood Education, Helsinki
Prof Catherine Nkirote Kunyanga,  Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Technology, Nairobi
Ass. prof. Henry Ndegwa Maina, Food and Nutrition, Helsinki
Dr. Melissa Meierhofer, Zoology, Helsinki
Dr. Isabel Mogollon Figueroa, Institute for Molecular Medicine, Helsinki
Dr Getrude Shepelo Peter,  Department of Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Nairobi
Dr. Paul Webala, Wildlife Biology, Nairobi

Sofie’s ECC experience

Sofie’s ECC experience

ECC Early career champions program participants in Nairobi at the Embassy of Finland. Photo by Sofie Gregersen

When I first came across the open call for mentees in the ECC programme in early 2021, I did not think much of it – I had just begun my own doctoral journey in Critical Race Studies at the Faculty of Arts, and I was not convinced that interdisciplinary and cross-faculty mingling and collaboration really ought to be part of this next part of my scholarly and professional chapter. And even

less so in a programme that was about OneHealth! Despite this, I still applied, because I knew that 1) my research could fit into the framework and 2) it would give me some unique insights and opportunities that few doctoral students in my field are afforded – if there is one thing I have learnt throughout my undergraduate and Master’s studies, it is to take all the chances that come my way. And I can’t even begin to describe how happy and grateful I am that I decided to go for it, and that I got accepted!

ECC Early career champions program visiting the University of Nairobi in November 2022. Photo by Sofie Gregersen

As a humanist/social scientist going into a programme focused on OneHealth (which, let’s be real, would lead most people to think of the physical and natural sciences more than the social sciences and humanities), my expectations were almost non-existent – not that I did not have any expectations, by no means, but I couldn’t tell you now what they were before we started. I guess that is also why I have so many positive things to say about this program, because I went into this as a blank slate.. and came out as a colorful canvas!

Being one of the few social scientists in the cohort, it was eye-opening to work together with the mentees and mentors from the natural sciences. It was a pleasure (and a great privilege!) to have them explain what they do, in a manner that I was able to understand with my limited knowledge of much of the natural scientific research traditions. It was also a pleasure to expand the limits of what OneHealth can do and should do/be, and to envision ways in which all branches of science – be it virology, biology, medicine, anthropology or gender studies – can work together in order to solve the plethora of crises that we are facing. As we concluded many times during our talks, visits and interactions, no discipline can stand alone, and working together is of utmost importance – and it’s also the most fun! It was also beyond incredible to get so close to doctoral students from another university, and to see how doctoral

ECC Early career champions program participants in Nairobi at the embassy of Finland. Photo by Sofie Gregersen

education is planned and conceptualized at another university. Furthermore, I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed the social aspect of being a mentee in this programme. I think I speak for all of the mentees (and hopefully the mentors, too!) in the 2021-2022 cohort when I say that lifelong friendships have been formed and nurtured. I highly recommend everyone eligible to apply as mentee to give it consideration – I can almost guarantee that you will not regret it.

If you wish to contact Sofie to hear more about her experience in ECC, you can reach her at

The One Health Early Career Champions -program continues in 2023-2024!

The One Health Early Career Champions -program continues in 2023-2024!

The One Health Early Career Champions (ECC) -pilot was successfully implemented in the years 2021-2022 and culminated in a festive awarding ceremony at the University of Nairobi in December 2022. The Early Career Champions -program will continue in the years 2023-2024 in the tradition of the ECC-pilot with a second edition of the One Health theme. This thematic focus encompasses a multitude of One Health research areas including, among others, virology, anti-microbial resistance, and food & nutrition. 

The Early Career Champions -program is part of the University’s Africa program and brings together doctoral researchers and mentors from the universities of Helsinki and Nairobi. As part of the strategic partnership between the two universities, the One Health Early Career Champions -program promotes career advancement and international networking of early career researchers from various disciplinary backgrounds, focusing on One Health. It includes four workshops with different topics like career planning and entrepreneurship, mentoring sessions, monthly seminars, and an awarding ceremony at the end of the program. ECC Early career champions program university Helsinki Nairobi participants Grande finale

The ECC program creates long-term partnerships, supports international activities of doctoral researchers and more experienced scientists, enables multidisciplinary research, and promotes the development of a lasting community of Early Career Champions comprising active ECC mentors and mentees as well as ECC alumni from Kenya and Finland. 

It is now possible to apply to become an ECC mentor or ECC mentee in the upcoming second term of the One Health Early Career Champions -program.  The application forms for new ECC mentors and ECC mentees will be open 3.4.-24.4.2023. The selections will take place in May 2023. 

Please contact the planning officers Mia Vehkaoja ( or Lauri Turpeinen ( at the Researcher Training Services, if you have any questions. 

EEC Experience by Joseph Ogola

EEC Experience by Joseph Ogola

ECC program is a well-thought-out idea that gave me a chance to interact with my fellow mentees and mentors from different disciplines. Through this interaction, my network grew and I was able to learn on their career trajectories from early school years. These experiences were motivation to me and offers the much-needed synergy as I define my future path after completion of my PhD studies. ECC Early career champions program university Helsinki Nairobi participants in Helsinki. Photo by Joseph Ogola

My greatest lesson learnt in this program is having a clear vision and being committed in following the path leading to the vision irrespective of the challenges. The one on one interaction with my mentors also offered me a chance of bringing clarity to my career path post PhD. The visit to Helsinki was fan having spent 1.5 years at the university of Helsinki before and during Covid-19 pandemic. I had a chance to reunite with my friends but it also offered opportunity to visit different research groups and to learn the One Health researches and different collaborations across geographical range.