Since graduating with his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nairobi, Bonphace Mangeni has been a high school Biology and Chemistry teacher in Kenya. His year as a high school teacher taught him to work and lead students diplomatically. After that year, he took time to pursue his Master’s degree in Plant Virology from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Kenya, with the aim of becoming a professional agricultural researcher and professor.
His research was focused on distribution and crop protection against the Mosaic Virus on the Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L). The virus has affected many farmers and bean production has been steadily declining. While the rate of disease is very high and the crop considered a staple of Kenya, the disease has not been studied extensively. The bean (Phaseolous vulgaris L) is among the most important food legume crops in Kenya and this research will hopefully contribute to increased food security in the country and in Africa in general.
During his fellowship, Mr. Mangeni worked with Dr. Mathew Abang, a Senior Research Scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) – Uganda and Dr. James Kelly, Professor at Michigan State University. His CGIAR mentor, Dr. Abang, is the Pan Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) coordinator and he supervised all of Mr. Mangeni’s survey activities on beans in Western Kenya. Mr. Mangeni will also conduct virus transmission experiments for bean common mosaic virus (BCMV) on known indicator plants, using the greenhouse and lab facilities at Michigan State University, under the supervision of Dr. Kelly.
Mr. Mangeni hopes to make an impact in his region, Western Kenya. He feels Kenya needs more researchers who are trained internationally and he viewed his Borlaug LEAP fellowship as an opportunity for self-study, training, and networking. He sees a leader as someone who takes responsibility and motivates other individuals. Mr. Mangeni completed his master's degree in 2014 and is currently a PhD student in Crop Protection at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, as well as a lecturer and research associate.