Open Doors Fellowship Program for Women Researchers in Africa, 2023

The Open Doors Fellowship Program for Women Researchers in Africa for the academic year 2023-2024 has been organized by the UGent-VIB International Plant Biotechnology Outreach (VIB-IPBO) to uphold its commitment to supporting female scientists in African research institutions and universities. To be considered, applicants must be female postdoctoral scholars or mid-career scholars who have faced obstacles in their careers due to limited access to training, infrastructure, and international networks. A three-month, fully funded short research stage in Belgium will be awarded to the chosen candidates. A scientific organization for non-profit purposes, the UGent-VIB International Plant Biotechnology Outreach (VIB-IPBO) was established in 2000.

The association was begun as an organization of the Vlaams Instituut Voor Biotechnologie (VIB) situated in Flanders, Belgium, which is a world-driving life sciences research establishment. The mission of VIB-IPBO is to “contribute to the participatory engagement of agricultural communities and local actors in LDE to new sustainable agricultural systems, to enable a healthy planet with a sound social, cultural, economic, and environmental development,” as stated in the organization’s mission statement. Additionally, the organization contributes to removing some of the most significant obstacles to the transfer of agro-biotechnological innovations and knowledge. Smallholder farmers, both male and female, in the least developed economies (LDE) benefit from this because it increases food and nutritional security.

Deadline for applications: The call for the open-doors fellowship for the years 2023 to 2025 is now open and will close on January 10, 2023.

Who can apply for Open Doors Fellowship Program?

Women researchers in post-doc positions (for at least three years) and mid-career positions experience challenges to progress in their career path due to limited access to capacity-building opportunities and international networks.
Women researchers can demonstrate that they are implementing their ongoing research in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, or South Africa.
Women with an employment contract in an (inter)national research center or university in any of the countries listed above for the fellowship’s time (2023-2025a).
Women researchers with an active line of research in the following agricultural-related fields: agro-biotechnology, plant breeding, molecular biology and genetics, microbiology, chemical ecology, and plant & soil health.
Women researchers that are supervising MSc or Ph.D. students and supporting staff.

Brief Description
University or Organization: UGent- VIB International Plant Biotechnology Outreach (VIB-IPBO)
Department: NA
Course Level: Postdoctoral
Award: Research support
Number of Awards: NA
Access Mode: Online
Nationality: African
The award can be taken in Africa

How are Applicants Selected?

There are two modalities in which applicants in Africa and the research institutions in Belgium can generate a research project to drive the research stage in Belgium to channel a research collaboration throughout the Open Doors Fellowship Program.

Modality A: Applicants align with the scope and the requirements of open slots offered by the Belgian research laboratories.
Modality B: Applicants create a joint project with a counterpart in a Belgian research laboratory of their choice for opening a specific slot.
The VIB-IPBO committee will conduct the first round of selection of the most suitable candidates, based on the excellence of their proposal and the impact of their short research stay. The shortlisted candidates will be called for an online interview in early February 2022 for the final selection process. Based on the interviews, the names of the successful applicants of the Open Doors 2022 program will be announced in the second week of February 2022 on our website.


Eligible Countries: Students from Benin, Burkina Faso, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, or Uganda can apply.
Eligible Course or Subjects: The students can take up a post-doctoral position at an African institute or university.
Eligibility Criteria: To be eligible, the applicants must meet all the following/given criteria:
The applicants must be post-doctoral or mid-career women from Africa.
The applicants must have an active employment contract in a High Education institution or an (inter)national research center in any of the eligible countries.

What is the Benefit of the Open Doors Fellowship Program?

Through the Open Doors, women will enhance their leadership and communication skills and expand their network of colleagues and mentors in Africa and Belgium. Therefore, Open Doors is a fellowship program where women will improve their competencies and benefit from the training opportunities to increase their chances of leading and participating in new projects, accessing better research resources, and increasing their publication success.

How Long will the Program Last?

The Open Doors awardees are expected to arrive in Belgium on 1st May 2022. The fellows can decide on the length of their short research stay, but this cannot be less than eight weeks (minimum period) nor longer than 12 weeks. The latest date to return to their home country will be the 16th of July.

The VIB-IPBO team will organize the paperwork to travel to Belgium, purchase flight tickets, and find suitable accommodation for the fellows in Belgium.

How to Apply

How to Apply: The candidates must first secure admission at their desired university. The applications to participate in the fellowship program must be sent to [email protected] in the attachment of all the below-listed documents.
Supporting Documents: The students are required to present the following documents to the university:
A duly filled application
A motivation letter from the candidate
A maximum 3-page CV. Please note that a CV with more than three pages will not be reviewed.
Soft copies of the academic transcripts of the Ph.D. and the diploma.
A list of publications, including papers, book chapters, technical reviews in indexed journals, and patents
A signed letter from the applicant’s direct supervisor to indicate how she/he intends to support the fellow in completing her training program
An official signed letter from the Human Resources Office of the applicant’s institution to prove that the applicant has a valid contract in SSA for the duration of the fellowship.
A signed letter from the research center in Belgium supporting the applicant’s short research stay (only for Modality B applications).
Admission Requirements:  The applicants must meet the criteria to participate in the fellowship program.
Language Requirement: The applicants must meet the language requirements of their respective universities or institutes.

TheUGent- VIB International Plant Biotechnology Outreach (VIB-IPBO) will provide the fellowship winners with a fully-funded short research stage of three months in Belgium.

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