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OIA Conversations Webinar Series


Experiences of Virginia Tech African Faculty 

Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020  |  11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.


The panel will be moderated by Kathy Alexander, of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation.


Ozzie Abaye is a professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and has been at Virginia Tech since 1987. Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she has been in the U.S. for almost 42 years.

While Abaye finds teaching and international work extremely rewarding, the aspect of her position that she prizes most is her interaction with advisees. As an advisor, Abaye strives to provide and foster opportunities for meaningful interaction locally and globally.

For over 20 years, she has been involved in international research, development, and education. Some of Abaye’s highly valued international research and development work was in Senegal, where she was involved with a project dealing with human and institutional capacity in agricultural teaching, research, training, and outreach in order to serve the needs of the Senegalese public and private sectors, including farmers at all levels.

Abaye’s research focus, which also strongly supports her outreach and teaching efforts, has been grassland conservation, and agricultural systems, and crop diversification.

Jennifer Case is professor and head of the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Prior to her appointment, she was a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town, where she retains an honorary appointment.

She was born in Cape Town to a family with multiple generations of South Africans. After completing schooling and undergraduate studies in Stellenbosch, a small town close to Cape Town, she received a master's degree in the U.K. and a Ph.D. in Australia.

Her introduction to the U.S. came through a period as a Mandela Fellow at the W .E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

With more than two decades of undergraduate teaching and curriculum reform work, she is a well-regarded researcher in engineering education and higher education. Her work especially on the student experience of learning as well as on topics around teaching and curriculum, has been widely published internationally. 

She was the founding president of the South African Society for Engineering Education. She is a joint editor-in-chief for the international journal Higher Education and an associate editor for the South African Journal of Science.

Emmanuel Frimpong is a professor of fish ecology and conservation in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech.

He was born and grew up in Ghana, where he received a B.S. in natural resources management in 1997 from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. In the United States, he completed graduate studies at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Virginia Tech, and Purdue University.

A faculty member at Virginia Tech since 2007, Frimpong has maintained research programs in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa, including programs in Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, and Tanzania. In 2014, he was named a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow by the Institute of International Education.

Khaled Hassouna is the associate director for Middle East and North Africa initiatives and associate director for curriculum development in the Center for International Research, Education, and Development.

In his previous post, he was the international coordinator for the Conservation Management Institute in the College of Natural Resources and Environment.

He is an environmentalist and educator, expert in community development, sustainable environmental education and development, curriculum design, and cross-cultural relations. He works with universities, NGOs, and consultant firms in the Middle East, the U.S., and around the world. Hassouna specializes in increasing communication and understanding between diverse groups of people, cultures, and organizational structures.

He holds a B.Sc. in civil engineering, an M.Sc. in natural resources Mmanagement, and a Ph.D. in environmental design and planning.  As an Egyptian, before he came to the U.S., he was a national park warden, planner, and managed the National Biodiversity database unit.

Kathleen Alexander has been conducting research in East and Southern Africa for over 30 years. She has worked for the government of Botswana as both the chief of the Wildlife Veterinary Unit in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks and later, as the ecological advisor to the Office of the President of Botswana and the Attorney Generals Chambers. She presently serves as the scientific advisor to the Botswana Presidential COVID Task Force.

She has spent most of her professional life studying the dynamics of infectious disease at the human-animal interface in Africa, culminating in the creation of the Chobe Research Institute that she directs in northern Botswana.

She is a member of both the World Conservation Union's Wildlife Health Specialist Group as well as the Commission for Ecosystem Management.

She moved back to the U.S. to join the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech in 2007 where she continues to move between the U.S. and Africa to conduct research in her long-term Botswana study site.

Alexander received both her Ph.D. and veterinary degree from the University of California, Davis.