UMBC statistician selected to work with Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia

Published: May 24, 2024

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Participants in the signing of an agreement between UMBC and University of Limpopo in South Africa in 2018. Yehenew Kifle initiated the partnership, which is designed to promote graduate-level statistical training for African researchers. Left to right: Yehenew Kifle, assistant professor of statistics; DoHwan Park, associate professor of statistics; Thomas Mathew, professor of statistics; Bimal Sinha, professor of statistics; Nagaraj Neerchal, professor of statistics; and Kingsley Ayisi, professor at University of Limpopo. (Maryland Demond '11/UMBC)

Yehenew Kifle, assistant professor of statistics at UMBC, has been awarded a fellowship by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP). Kifle will travel to Addis Ababa University (AAU) in Ethiopia to work with the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. There, he will work with colleagues to enhance teaching and mentoring and grow research collaborations to support Ph.D. training in biostatistics.

man standing in front of a brick wall, white lettering on wall reads "...rican ...tical ...iat...)
Yehenew Kifle visited the American Statistical Association in April 2024, around the signing of the agreement between the ASA and UMBC related to the African International Conference on Statistics. (Courtesy of Kifle)

Kifle will spend three months in Ethiopia this summer, working with his African host, Zeytu Gashaw Asfaw, associate professor of biostatistics at AAU. In addition to producing collaborative research, during his stay Kifle plans to conduct short-term training sessions and workshops on advanced software-aided statistical techniques for junior statisticians, graduate students, and medical professionals within the school of public health at AAU. He will also assist in crafting grant proposals aimed at increasing research collaborations in biostatistics between UMBC and AAU.

The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program, now in its 10th year, is designed to strengthen capacity for graduate education at host institutions and develop long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations between universities in Africa and the United States and Canada. It is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in collaboration with the Association of African Universities. Nearly 650 fellowships have been awarded since the CADFP’s inception in 2013.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in its international outreach endeavors, highlighting the importance of CADFP,” Kifle says, adding, “I’m looking forward to sharing my expertise in teaching biostatistics graduate courses, offering mentorship, and supervising doctoral dissertations.” Additionally, Kifle plans to conduct seminars on his recent research findings and offer insights into improving graduate programs in biostatistics.

Building on international connections

Before arriving at UMBC, Kifle was a professor of statistics at the University of Limpopo in South Africa. UMBC signed a collaborative agreement with University of Limpopo in 2018, initiated by Kifle while he was a visiting faculty member from Limpopo at UMBC. Kifle first encountered UMBC’s strength in statistics at the 2015 African International Conference (AIC) on Statistics, a UMBC-led conference held in a different African country annually since 2014. 

Since then, Kifle has been a leader in organizing the AIC, which recently received a pledge for support from the American Statistical Association. The Carnegie fellowship builds further on Kifle’s commitment to forging partnerships with African universities for the mutual benefit of scholars at UMBC and in Africa.

two men shake hands, one holding a large folder, while another looks on between them
Bimal Sinha (left), professor of statistics at UMBC, and Yehenew Kifle (center), assistant professor of statistics at UMBC, with N.M. Mokgalongs, president of University of Limpopo, at the 4th Annual African International Conference on Statistics. (Courtesy of Kifle)

Kifle’s work in Ethiopia is one of 60 new projects supported by the CADFP that pair African diaspora scholars with higher education institutions and collaborators in Africa to work together on curriculum development, research, graduate training, and mentoring activities in 2024.

“This is indeed exciting news for all of us in the department and at UMBC,” shared Bimal Sinha, professor of statistics at UMBC. “We are thrilled to know that Dr. Kifle will represent UMBC in this extraordinary outreach effort to offer seminars and training courses and possibly to jointly supervise doctoral dissertations. There is no doubt that many statistics departments in Ethiopia will benefit from Dr. Kifle’s vast teaching and research experiences.”

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