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Scholarship recipients in Africa

Below is the list of 2023–2024 scholarship recipients.

Tsilavo is a palynologist with a strong interest in palaeoecology and archaeology. He holds a PhD in applied palaeoecology from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His research is dedicated to unravelling long-term environmental changes in Southern Africa during the Quaternary period, with a particular focus on Madagascar and South Africa.


Tsilavo is currently conducting a postdoc with the Human Evolution Research Institute (HERI) at the Department of Geology, University of Cape Town. His project aims to understand vegetation dynamics and fire history and to assess their relationship with early humans in the Eastern Cape region during the Late Quaternary.

With the travel grant from the PAGES Inter-Africa Mobility Research Fellowship Program, Tsilavo plans to enhance his knowledge and skills in the identification and analysis of South African Quaternary pollen flora. He will visit the lab of Prof. Louis Scott and Dr. Andri van Aardt at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, a well-known Quaternary lab in South Africa with the richest and largest pollen reference collection for regional plants. This research visit aims to advance Tsilavo’s project, broaden his network with leading experts in Palaeoecology in South Africa, and strengthen collaboration within the African scientific community.

Asmae Baqloul holds a Ph.D. from the University Ibn Zohr of Agadir (UIZ) in Morocco. Her groundbreaking doctoral research, titled “Late Holocene Climate, Vegetation, and Ocean Interactions in Northwest Africa,” under the guidance of Professors Ilham Bouimetarhan and Lhoussaine Bouchaou, unveils the complexities of paleoclimate studies in the region.

Asmae's work goes beyond conventional boundaries, addressing critical gaps in our understanding of southern Morocco's climate reconstitution. Applying innovative


 methods like lipid analyses of Argan leaves and stable isotopes, she intricately explores environmental changes over the past 3000 years.

The PAGES African Mobility Fellowship represents a pivotal chapter in Asmae's journey, fostering collaboration with Dr. Ahmed Ismail at Ain Shams University. This fellowship is a carefully crafted opportunity for profound discussions, analysis, and interpretation of recent research findings. Through this collaboration, Asmae aims to deepen her exploration of the northwest African upwelling region, specifically in southern Morocco, enriching her academic endeavors and contributing nuanced insights to the broader scientific community.

I am studying towards my PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, where I am specializing in Prehistory and Archaeology in the School of Geography, Archaeology, and Environmental Studies. My research project is focusing on


 the influence that raw materials may have had on reduction sequences in the Acheulean technocomplex, during the Early to Middle Pleistocene period, in East and South Africa. I am studying selected sites from these regions, including Gadeb and Middle Awash from Ethiopia, and Canteen Kopje and Rietputs 15, from South Africa, which date to between ~1.7 - 0.75 Ma. This wide chronological and geographical framework will allow me to compare raw material properties selected and used on regional and chronological scales. This will shed light on the Acheulean hominins’ technological adaptations and specializations that resulted from the use of different raw material properties.

The Acheulean sites under study have never been contrasted, and comparisons of Acheulean assemblages from different geographical regions remain rare in archaeological research. Thus, my research represents an important threshold for studying paleolandscape use in the deep past, which will include insights into raw materials provisioning, population dispersal events, ecological changes, and technological adaptations.

The Traveling between Ethiopia and South Africa to collect and examine stone tools from the sites under study is essential in order to complete the proposed research project. the PAGES fellowship will assist me in conducting comparative study on African antiquities. There hasn’t been much study done in this area before, so this is an opportunity for me to do such assessments in depth and share my findings.

Prof. Sarah Wurz of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; Prof. Agazi Negash of Addis Ababa University; and Dr. Matthew V. Caruana of the University of Johannesburg are supervising my research.

Kelvin Fella is a Tanzanian archaeologist with a Master’s degree in archaeology from the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania). His master’s research focused on paleoenvironmental reconstruction of Olduvai Gorge, a famous Pleistocene site found in northern Tanzania. He successfully unveiled the understudied Maasai ethnobotanical landscape and its contribution to the understanding of Olduvai Gorge paleoecology.


He is a senior conservator of Antiquities having worked under Tanzania Department of Antiquities, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism for more than 10 years. Since 2020, Fella serves as Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Heritage studies, University of Dar es Salaam.

Currently, is working on his PhD research focusing on “Human Responses to Climate Changes and Natural Events during the 500-1850 AD at Pangani Bay, Northern Tanzania Coast”. He applies a geoarchaeological perspective to grasp the relationship between human dynamics, past climate changes and environmental transformations.

The PAGES Inter-Africa Mobility Research Fellowship will support Mr. Kelvin to travel to University of Johannesburg, South Africa to work with Dr. Tebogo Makhubela on the analysis of geochemical elements and clay mineralogical using modern techniques, XRF and XRD respectively. These geochemical parameters are important recorders of the past climatic and environmental changes.

Yacoub Abdallah Nassour, PhD in Geosciences and Environment with a specialisation in Sedimentology and Paleoclimatology from Aix-Marseille University and the European Centre for Research and Teaching in Environmental Geosciences (CEREGE) in France, currently holds the position of Lecturer at the Department of Geology and serves as a researcher in the Laboratory of Hydro-Geosciences and Reservoirs (LHGR) at the University of N’Djamena, Chad.


Dr Yacoub's research focus centers on the reconstruction of past climatic and environmental conditions within terrestrial ecosystems, specifically the lakes and paleolakes of the Sahara and Sahel regions during the Holocene period, with a particular emphasis on the African Humid Period (AHP). His investigations involve a diverse set of methodologies, incorporating bioindicators such as Diatoms and Pollen, sedimentological analyses including Grain-size, XRF, and XRD, archeological evidence, as well as Isotope-mass balance modeling encompassing parameters like E/I ratio and d18Odiatom.

As part of the PAGES Inter-Africa Mobility Research Fellowship Program, Dr. Yacoub aims to investigate Late-Holocene climate variability and agricultural practices within the Kanem Empire situated in the central Sahel region of Chad. Collaborating closely with Professor François Nguetsop, the Head of the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Dschang, Cameroon, Dr. Yacoub aims to unravel connections between climatic shifts and historical agricultural practices.