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NAV Public Lecture Saskia van Osendarp, January 26, 2023

Dr. Saskia van Osendarp

Dr Saskia van Osendarp, Executive Director of the Micronutrient Forum, presented the Dutch Academy of Nutritional Sciences (NAV) Public Lecture on January 26, 2023 at Antropia, Driebergen (NL). An important message was provided to nutritional scientists and other participants: the global nutrition status is at this moment of great concern. Currently, there is severe malnutrition in 15 countries worldwide. The situation has worsened in the past three years and, as a consequence, the sustainable development on hunger (SDG2) will not be achieved. At the lecture 75 participants were present and 40 online. The full report on the Lecture made up by the NAV can be found via this link.
The Van Dam Nutrition Foundation supported the lecture financially.

The slides Dr Osendarp showed during her lecture can be downloaded via this link.

Two Grants participation Support Program of Centre of Excellence for Nutrition (2023)

The Van Dam Foundation has provided grants to enable two PhD students to participate in the 3rd edition of the Support Program for PhD Students of the Centre of Excellence for Nutrition (CEN) and the Supporting Nutrition and Research Education (SuNREA) project at North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa from 3 July to 13 October 2023.

The aim of the Program is to provide complementary training in addition to the training that PhD students receive at their home institution. It will prepare and enable students to successfully navigate their PhD research at their home institutions and to make the most of it. The support Program is specifically designed for 1st year human nutrition PhD students. It includes several core methodological modules that are indispensable for the successful completion of a PhD. The Program consisted of two parts: An online/distance learning completion of modules from 3 July to 15 September 2023 and a six day full-time face-to-face meeting in Potchefstroom, South Africa from 8 to 13 October 2023. The Program was successfully completed with 18 PhD candidates from 8 different African countries attending the Program (Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Tanzania). Two participants that received bursaries from Van Dam Foundation: Ms Florence Akua Koblaji (Ghana) and Mrs Sylvia Kercher Bangura (Sierra Leone).


Ms Florence Akua Koblaji’s project: Breastfeeding empowerment to improve breastfeeding outcomes among women in Northern Ghana
She reported: The PhD Support Programme was an enriching experience for me and I acquired a lot of knowledge in areas such as; self-awareness, self-reflection, and research process, which consisted of identifying and formulating the research topic or problem, literature search and review, research approach, design, and strategy, research objectives, questions, and hypotheses, data collection, data analysis and generalisation and write-up. Again, protocol development/writing, nutrition epidemiology and other nutrition research methods, errors, bias, confounders, study design, population and sampling, data management, quality, control, basic applied statistics and data analysis plan were included. Other areas also included study power and sample size, writing a scientific research paper, how to write an abstract for presentation, from research to publication, publishing etiquette, leadership, how to get the most from my supervisor, how to develop a good relationship and the importance of a good relationship between my supervisor and myself. and lots more.
I have learnt that proper planning prevents poor performance, practice makes perfect and also, an expert in anything was once a beginner. Indeed, I was inspired by former PhD graduates who shared their own experiences of the challenges they encountered and how they were able to overcome. I met renowned researchers from NWU and WUR (Wageningen) who were really embodiments of knowledge and skills in research who served as facilitators and therefore enriched us in relevant areas of research and publication.
I have become more self-aware through the use of reflection which has led me to managing my emotions, evaluating myself and also aligning my behaviour with values. This programme has provided me with a sense of destination and the energy to get started through cultivating a hopeful outline of life. I met PhD colleagues from other countries which made me feel that I was not alone in my PhD journey and this also expanded my professional network. My presentation and slide preparation skills improved.
I have personally been able to write my research protocol. I have also been equipped with more knowledge in the area of nutritional research methodology, presentation skills, slide preparation skills which would help me to navigate through my research work. Again, I have come to the realisation that the PhD journey is a process which can be influenced by controllable and uncontrollable situations, and I can only overcome these situations if only am aware of my personal strengths, development, wellbeing, unique abilities and with the aid of growth mind-set I can easily navigate through my PhD journey. Overall, I think I have been empowered to carry out my research work.


Mrs Sylvia Kercher Bangura’s project: Evaluating the Efficacy of Nutrition Education Intervention on Maternal and Child Malnutrition: A Case Study of Moyamba District, Sierra Leone

She reported:
1. Enhanced Knowledge and Skills: The grant has allowed me to access a wide range of training programs, both online and in face-to-face settings. This diverse training has enriched my knowledge and sharpened my research and analytical skills, enabling me to delve deeper into my chosen field of study.
2. Networking Opportunities: The training and grant have facilitated networking opportunities with experts, scholars, and peers in my area of research. This has been instrumental in expanding my academic network and connecting with individuals who share my research interests.
3. Improved Communication Skills: The grant’s support for training in communication and presentation skills has been instrumental in my ability to effectively convey my research findings. As a result, It will enable my presentation at conferences, publish in reputable journals, and collaborate with colleagues more efficiently.
4. Mentorship and Guidance: The grant has opened doors to mentorship and guidance from experienced researchers and facilitators in my field. Their insights and advice have been instrumental in shaping my research direction and career aspirations.
5.Research Tools and Resources: The financial support from the grant for travelling to South Africa has allowed me to access vital research opportunities, and other resources that are essential for my work. This will significantly improve the quality and efficiency of my research.
6. Personal Growth: Beyond academic gains, the grant has contributed to my personal growth by boosting my confidence and resilience as a Ph.D. student. It has allowed me to take on new challenges and step out of my comfort zone.
7. Publications and Contributions: The skills and knowledge acquired through the grant will directly result in my fourth coming several publications, presentations at conferences, and contributions to my field. These achievements will not only benefit me but also reflect positively on the grant provider.