Chemical Sciences Conference 2022 (Virtual)

The University of Eldoret through the Directorate of Research and Innovation hosted a 3-day Chemical Sciences Virtual Conference at University of Eldoret Town Campus from 16th to 18th March, 2022 themed: “Trends and Innovation in Chemical Sciences for Sustainable Development”. The virtual conference saw the participation of 97 presenters from different institutions locally and internationally.

During the official opening ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Teresa Akenga welcomed all the participants to the inaugural Chemical Science Conference 2022. In her address, she stated that the chemical Science Conference is an important forum for academicians and researchers to share, discuss and document our research findings, share experiences, exchange ideas and insights, network for research collaboration as well as career progression and promote research and practice in chemical sciences. She added that chemical science is a pivotal contributor to society because its principles find application in many sectors that make human life possible. She noted that application of chemical science in the fields of medicine, agriculture, manufacturing among others is central to transforming experimental and investigative processes in analyzing phenomenon.

She reiterated that the forum will serve to share and disseminate research finds on Health, Food security, Environment and Climate Change and Industrial Processes and Manufacturing which closely relate to the Government Big Four agenda.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Planning, Research and Extension). Represented by Prof. Donald Otieno, reiterated the need to focus on Chemical science as it joins together physics and mathematics, geology and medicine, and earth and environmental sciences. He added that the applications of chemical science have contributed significantly to the advancement of human civilization.

The first keynote speech was presented by Prof. Josphat Matasyoh, a professor of Organic Chemistry at the department of Chemistry of Egerton University. His address was on “The search for Bioactive Molecules with Activity against Human and Animal Disease Pathogens and Vectors”. He stated that Kenya is endowed with a lot of natural resources that can be utilized to solve a myriad of problems and in order to achieve the SGDs and Vision 2030, there is need for a sustainable use of local resources to develop local solutions to our problems. His focus was on the use of larvicides and insecticides to control the malaria mosquito, availability of clean water and sanitation to prevent typhoid fever and cholera and multi-drug resistance. He discussed research findings towards the search for bioactive molecules for the management of human, and animal disease pathogens and vectors.

The second keynote speech was by Prof. Hudson Nyambaka, department of Chemistry of Kenyatta University. His presentation was titled: “The emerging Issues on the Promotion of Indigenous foods and Nutrient Bioavailability”. He stated that malnutrition levels globally remain high and are responsible for ill health of large population. He added that Kenya is struggling to address the effects of malnutrition characterized by the coexistence of under nutrition as manifested by stunting, wasting, underweight, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight and obesity including diet-related non-communicable diseases (DRNCD). He added that these diseases could be minimized through good nutrition. He discussed finding focused on the bioavailability of the micronutrients from differently processed indigenous foods.

Day Two saw the Vice-Chancellor and chief guest, Prof. Teresa Akenga; Professor of Organic Chemistry give her presentation titled: “Using Chemical Sciences to Harness a Rapidly Evolving COVID-19 Situation: a socially distanced tale of the MASK, the WASH, the JAB and the PILL”. She outlined the current COVID-19 scene globally and within Kenya. She also outlined how revolutionary research helped scientists save the world from the grip of the CIOVID-19 pandemic. The research led to the introduction of containment measures which included social distancing, wearing of masks, hygiene measures (wash and sanitization) the development of vaccine and medicine. She also heighted the innovative way University of Eldoret established to fight the pandemic. This was by production of Hand wash detergent, sanitizer and foot operated was basin.

The third keynote speech was presented by Prof. Kristof Demeestere of Research group EnVOC Department of Green Chemistry and Technology Faculty of Bioscience Engineering Ghent University, Belgium. His presentation was titled “Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Our Aquatic Environment: Chemical Trace Analysis and Novel Ozone-Based Water Treatment for Their Abatement”.

He stated that contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products and new generation pesticides are increasingly causing environmental and public health concern. Unlike the conventional pollutants, CECs are rarely regulated globally.

He added that wastewater treatment plants have been identified as a major pathway through which CECs enter the aquatic environment, as the primary and secondary treatment steps are insufficient to remove these often bio-recalcitrant micro pollutants from the water. The impact of CECs on the environmental and human health is not fully known yet. However, they are frequently associated with long-term toxicity, endocrine disrupting effects and antibiotic resistance.

His presentation highlighted modern state-of-the-art techniques to detect and quantify CECs at trace levels in complex wastewater streams, as well as a novel ozone-based AOP to degrade recalcitrant CECs by a mixture of reactive species and radicals.

The fourth keynote speech was presented by Prof. John Lusweti Kituyi a professor of physical chemistry at the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Eldoret. He stated that increased human population has led to increased domestic, industrial and agricultural practices with a rise in wastewater discharges, hence water pollution. Consequently, water resources are stressed and a lack of access to safe water especially in rural areas has led to many people particularly women and children to spend a lot of time collecting water instead of doing something more useful. Public awareness of water pollution episodes have led to possible ways of alleviating water pollution. However, such methods should be environmentally friendly and cost effective. One such approach to wastewater treatment is the application of natural products, which have been found to be good adsorbents for water contaminants. Biosorption of selected heavy metal ions using adsorbents algae, moringa oleifera, waste tea and arrow roots has been studied by measuring the efficiency of their removal from ‘waters’ using contact time and pH as the variables in a batch-process series of experiments. Biosorption of mixtures of the metal ions to study their competitive effects within the materials at suitable pHs has also been done.

The fifth keynote speaker was Dr. Rajeshwara Achur a professor of Biochemistry at the department of Biochemistry, Kuvempu University, Shimoga, Karnataka, India. His presentation in was “The Currents Scenario of Malaria Burden and Future Prospects of Eradication”. He demonstrated that malaria remain to be a major public health crisis in almost all the developing countries especially in tropical and sub-tropical regions where approximately half the world's populations were at risk of contracting malaria. He stated that, despite the impressive progress for most of the past 2 decades, the situation remains of concern, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where the malaria burden remains unacceptably high and rose in most countries in 2020.

It was clearly understood that infection with malaria parasites may result in a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from absent or mild symptoms to severe disease and even death. The manifestations could lead to cerebral malaria, severe anemia and placental malaria in pregnant women.

His presentations showed that the complex life cycle of the malaria parasite makes it challenging for the researchers working on novel therapeutics and malarial vaccine to achieve their goal and it is the main reason of the parasites to developed resistance to several malaria medicines in many parts of the world. With this the control of malaria still remains to be challenging. He stated that though, newly introduced RTS, S vaccine could save tens of thousands of children’s lives every year, there is still a need for new tools with innovation to put an end to malaria tailored to local settings, and more investment in research and development.

The final keynote address was presented by Dr. Vivian Tuei a lecturer of Biochemistry and Molecular Bioscience at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Eldoret. He presentation was on “Potential Health Effects of Ingestion of Transformer Mineral Oil”.

During the closing ceremony, the chairperson of the conference committee, Dr. Fidelis Samita commended the efforts of all those who contributed to the conference's success. She advised the authors to implement adjustments on the full papers ready for publication.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof. Ruth Otunga address during the closing ceremony affirmed that the three days had been very significant with robust presentations and engagements from the researches ranging from food and Nutrition, Health, Environment conservation and manufacturing. She stated that these research areas lead to protection of our planet and bring peace to all. The role of Chemical science towards achieving sustainable development was clearly demonstrated and that there were three key emerging areas of agreement from the conference. Firstly, there is need by the researches to push for bio-prospection of new drugs particularly antibiotics in Sub- Sahara Africa through the employment of new computer software driven methodologies. Secondly, there is need for researches to provide policy briefs that will serve as advisory to the government on proper disposal of contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Thirdly, there is need for continued and enhancement of collaboration across different institutions for better and dissemination of information. She further, pointed out that more efforts need to be made to mentor women science researchers.

She expressed gratitude to all researchers who shared their findings and all the participants. Further, she appreciated the University management lead by Prof. Teresa Akenga for sponsoring the conference and University of Eldoret Town Campus for hosting the conference.

She also appreciated the conference committee, Director Research and Innovation, ICT, Corporate Affairs & Marketing and the department for their tireless effort to ensure success of the conference.

The conference committee members includes; Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof Phillip Raburu, Director Research and Innovation Prof. Vincent Sudoi, Dr. Fidelis Samita, Prof. Samuel Lutta, Dr. Enos Wambu, Prof. John Lusweti, Prof. Maurice Okoth, Dr. Ayabei Kiplagat, Dr. Geoffry Kiptoo, Dr. Naomi Bisem, Dr. Stephen Barasa, Mr. Kennedy Kamau. The live streaming of the conference was supported by the ICT team led by the Director Dr. Victor Kimeli.

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