IFS-SEARCA Mentorship Program for Individual and Collaborative Research

Quick Facts:

Introduction

Research and science remain vital to generating sustainable and inclusive solutions to global challenges. IFS and SEARCA, in keeping with their mandates, works, in part, towards enhancing the scientific capacity of early career scientists to harness new and existing knowledge and to continue to strengthen the possibilities for young researchers to productively engage in the global undertaking to reduce poverty, promote health, fight food insecurity and hunger, and support sustainable development.

A set of Mentorship Guidelines for Individual and Collaborative Research was developed from the experience and will continue to evolve with the continuing activities of IFS and SEARCA, especially with the launch of the Mentorship Program for Individual and Collaborative Research within the year. This program will support early career scientists who will be awarded IFS-SEARCA grants to carry out individual or collaborative research. They will be provided with various opportunities to work with established researchers who will guide them through a range of capability-enhancing interactions that are specific to grantees' professional needs, from their particular discipline's content to research and interpersonal skills.

Background

IFS and SEARCA worked together in 2016 on a grants scheme for collaborative research. This IFS-SEARCA pilot on collaborative research (2015-2019) was open to the nine Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam, with research focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation (as related to regional agriculture and rural development).

It included an opening collaborative research workshop (with six former grantees from the two Africa pilots participating as resource persons, or peer-mentors) and a mentoring workshop in which the 12 twelve teams (21 women and 20 men) were supported by 10 established regional and international scientists.

This pilot was backed by financial contributions from the Carolina MacGillavry Fund and SEARCA.

The Mentorship Program (2020-2023)

Purpose

Promising researchers and scientists will benefit from translating research and scientific outputs into knowledge that could be applied to promote development, build capacities of researchers in developing research proposals and conducting research, and expand their reach in terms of contributing to the body of knowledge on the identified research areas. Thus the purpose of the IFS-SEARCA Mentorship Program is to nurture relationships between established scientists and early career researchers (IFS-SEARCA grantees) that are intended to help the latter to strengthen their research processes, ensure that their projects are of high quality, and produce useful results.

Mentorship is such an important component in the overall package of support provided by IFS in building scientific capacity and research competence that it is now a prominent element of the IFS mission in our new strategy being developed for 2021-2030: IFS will realize its Vision by securing resources and drawing on its extensive global network of reviewers, scientific advisors, and alumni to mentor promising early-career men and women scientists in LLMICs [low- and lower-middle-income countries] to acquire the skills necessary to:

  • conduct original research that relates to genuine problems and that generates fundamental and/or applicable scientific knowledge that can be put into use;
  • contribute to science literacy;
  • communicate their results to the public at large, including scientists, politicians and policy makers, donors and private interest groups;
  • influence science priority setting; and
  • network and collaborate with the global research community to shape research agendas, both local and global.

IFS's three research clusters are:

  • Biological Resources in Terrestrial Systems
  • Water and Aquatic Resources, and
  • Food Security, Dietary Diversity and Healthy Livelihoods

SEARCA, in its 11th FYP (2020/2021 to 2024/2025), commits to accelerating transformation through agricultural innovation to become the leading enabler and champion of excellence in agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia; and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SEARCA sees inclusivity, innovation, and interconnectivity as the keys to agricultural and rural development (ARD), with these areas as priorities for research activities:

  • Agri-Business Models for Increased Productivity and Income
  • Sustainable Farming Systems and Natural Resource Management
  • Food and Nutrition Security
  • Transformational Leadership for ARD
  • Gender and Youth Engagement in ARD
  • Enhanced ARD towards Climate Resilience, and
  • Eco-Health/One-Health Applications to ARD

Eligibility Criteria for Grantees

An integral component to empowering early career researchers is a comprehensive plan that builds on the support of robust partners. For this call, IFS, in partnership with SEARCA, will support Southeast Asian nationals who are enrolled in a PhD degree program or have recently completed a Master's or PhD degree within the five years from the time of the call, and with limited research start-up funds.

This call, however, gives priority in terms of number of slots to its scholarship alumni, faculty and staff of partner universities and universities under its institutional development assistance program, and other regular employees of development organizations, academic institutions and government agencies of SEA countries, such as Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. However, interested researchers from other SEA countries can work or collaborate with the researchers from these countries.

In order to enter a working relationship with a mentor, IFS-SEARCA grantees must meet all of the criteria to be awarded a research grant, and also agree to work with a mentor, in addition to their local academic supervisor(s).

For this call, a total of eight (8) slots will be opened for application.