Biomedical Sciences

Frankie Odhiambo: Bridging the science-policy interface

The knowledge and skills that Frankie, from Africa, has developed allowed him to deliver his role at the United Nations, more efficiently, and take on new projects.

What motivates you? 

Growing up in a developing country, I have witnessed and experienced real changes to our environment first hand. Coming from a scientific background, I started my career in the field of environmental assessments with the aim of ensuring timely scientific, early warning knowledge and tools, to mitigate against the now frequent extreme environmental events. However, at the onset of my career it was apparent that I was missing something.

Working at the United Nations Division of Early warning and Assessments, it was obvious to me that looking at environmental conservation outside human health and wellbeing was incomplete. I needed the full picture. This was my motivation to take on the MSc in Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health. I desired a programme that would allow me the flexibility to continue my daily work while realising a continuation in my career development. 

What was your biggest take home lesson from the programme? 

My MSc programme experience was invaluable. The course helped me to successfully realise my dream. I not only learned about the different pieces of the conservation puzzle, but I was also able to make the link back to human health and well being through ecosystem health.

In our current new world, this programme couldn’t be more relevant. The main benefit for me has been to consider several aspects of our environment in making a case for conservation. This was achieved effectively by extremely knowledgeable tutors and a class of diverse classmates from all over the world, taking on different subjects both in class and on the discussion boards. To me this “cross-pollination” aspect of the course allowed for the global exchange of ideas and knowledge, which is hugely valuable for those like myself who are pausing careers on an international platform.

How did the programme help your career? 

The masters equipped me for my career at the Science Division of the UN Environment Programme, and my ability to successfully coordinate external exerts to provide timely, scientifically credible, policy-relevant environmental analyses,  and providing early warning of emerging environmental threats.

I now work closely with many partners and collaborators in all United Nations regions in the world. I've been able to establish functional networks for data, information, assessments, and capacity development over time. These are roles that I couldn’t take on before due to a lack of knowledge and skills.

What skills will you take into the future? 

I have comfortably taken on more technical roles, leading scientists across a variety of subjects, and enabling policy makers to dialogue. This has allowed me to  bridge the science policy interface on which future scientific assessments will be based, and ensure solid policy formulation and implementation.

I highly recommend this programme if you seek to develop skills and knowledge in leading conservation projects at both local, regional and global levels. This programme equips students through online interaction, intense research and report drafting skills. In a world that is increasingly virtual, I am grateful that I was better prepared to diligently research and impart knowledge confidently and entirely online! This is a strong skill for the future.