Makerere Professor becomes first African to win the Pius XI Medal

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Noble Banadda a Professor and Chair of the Department of Agricultural and Bio Systems Engineering at Makerere University in Uganda has become the first African to be awarded the Pius XI medal. The expert in Water Quality, Heavy Metals, TDS, Sludge Treatment and many more was awarded in recognition of his outstanding researches in science and engineering.

The medal, which was established by Pope John XXIII to promote scientific research, is awarded by the Political Academy of Science every two years to a scientist under the age of 45.

Prof. Banadda was raised in Kabale, South-Western Uganda where he had his primary and secondary school education. He then joined Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Technology. Later, he acquired his Master’s in Processing Engineering and a Doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.

Banadda became the first black African to get a Doctorate degree from the University and by the end of his Doctorate, he had nine journal papers in peer-reviewed scientific papers.

In 2007, Prof. Banadda won the Cochran Fellowship to do Postdoctoral studies in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. He was promoted to the rank of Professor when he was 37 years old in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in Makerere University, where he is currently the Head of Department.

According to goggle scholar, Nobel’s articles and journals has been cited  332 times  and In 2013, he was inaugurated as the youngest fellow of Uganda National Academy of Sciences and the only person to qualify to be in both the young and senior academy in Uganda. In 2015, Noble was honoured as young scientist at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China.

In 2015, Prof. Banadda was one of seven Africans (in Africa and Diaspora) that qualified as Fellows of the prestigious Next Einstein Fellowship (NEF) Award. The NEF Scientific Program Committee said they were particularly impressed by his scientific achievements and potential for leadership.

He was ranked number 35 in the world and number two in Africa in his field and has served as a visiting professor in universities in Africa, Europe and the USA. His area of research is bioprocessing engineering, specifically mathematical modelling of biological systems and interactions.

Noble has supervised eight doctoral theses and 25 masters’ theses. As such, he has authored 78 peer reviewed scientific papers in reputable international journals with a citation H-Index of 15, i10-Index of 24 and 714 citations as of November 2015. In waste management research, Noble is ranked 35th globally and 2nd in Africa according to Google Scholar rankings.

He led a team of students and experts from the University of Kentucky to develop a machine that produces diesel fuel from plastic. The technology which relies on a process called pyrolysis, the thermal decomposition of organic material at very high temperatures in the absence of oxygen and the diesel produced is used to run tractor engines and other machines.

He attributes his success to self-discipline, hard work, luck and building strong networks. He advises the academia, students and whoever aspires to be successful to keep those attributes in mind. Noble hopes to create infrastructure value added products from solid biowaste resources also lays emphasis on knowing the right people, managing oneself and making good use of time given. His success is truly a great achievement for him and the world and should inspire all the young scientists out there.

Prof. Banadda is due to give a presentation on his research at the next plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of sciences, which takes place November 12th-14th at the Vatican – Rome, Italy.

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