Expert Enlightens Faculty, Others on How to Win Grants
Covenant has faculty and students with innovative ideas and, judging by the quality of projects carried out by them, they have the potential to do better if able to win grants for their research endeavour, a serial grants winner, Professor Esther Akinlabi, has declared.
She made the declaration on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, while delivering her lecture at the 6th Seminar of the College of Engineering, Covenant University, with the theme, ‘Grantsmanship and Fellowship Acquisition for Academic, Institutional and Community Impact’.
Professor Akinlabi, a professor of Mechanical Engineering currently on sabbatical in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Covenant, from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, had started out by admonishing academics to ensure that they have individual development plan and take time out to reflect on what they expect to be by having the short, medium and long-term goal.
She posited that for an academic to say he/she was fulfilled, he/she must have excelled in five key performance areas that ticked the boxes, which include Teaching and Learning, Research Output, Grants and Student Supervision, Administration, Community Development, and Individual Value Add.
Explaining some of the key performance areas, the lecturer said that, “As full professors, we must teach. If you are doing research, you go to class to teach and motivate the students. Administration is good for our CV for us to be recognised the world over as an academic. Individual value add signifies having an advanced degree; there is no end to learning.
Professor Akinlabi highlighted the different phases in the academic career as Pre-Doctoral, Post-Doctoral/Early Career Researchers, and Established Researchers, which is 10 years after Ph.D and, according to her, irrespective of the phase academics find themselves, they must be happy and go for the grant proposal that fits into their levels.
While enumerating the approaches to competitive applications, she said that a grant applicant should identify the funding; prepare to write the grant application proposed; examine the criteria, checklist, outline and collaboration; complete the grant application; ask colleagues to assist with review; and submit before the lifeline. She added that if one had never applied for grant, he/she should seek the assistance of an experienced applicant.
Professor Akinlabi, who is ranked among the top 3 researchers in Johannesburg and has 38 grants in 8 years as an academic, noted that Eligibility, Theme and Priority are key in research funding process, being the first things looked for by people on panels to consider applications. She encouraged faculty and students in the College of Engineering to make the most of opportunities offered by funders as science and engineering have the highest number of grants in the world.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Dean, College of Engineering, Professor David Omole, said that Covenant had overtime transformed from just publishing to publishing internationally and from Science to Scopus. He added that as Covenant kept evolving, an average faculty in the University was recognised.
Covenant’s next agenda, said Professor Omole, was the ability to win grants, and it was a rare privilege to have Professor Esther Akinlabi as the facilitator for the seminar. While urging participants to pay special attention to the lecturer and benefit from her wealth of experience, the Dean expressed his trust in God that gains from the event would take Covenant to the next level.
Aside Heads of Departments, the seminar also attracted the presence of members of faculty, staff and graduate students.