SHE IS LEAVING NO STONE UNTURNED IN EXPLORING CHIA FOR NUTRITION AND FOOD SECURITY
Meet Dr. Monica Mburu– A Senior Lecturer and Food Science & Nutrition Researcher
"Simply put, exploring food science and nutrition has been an ecstatic experience. This field fascinates me because it isa field that is running the world’s food system. We need to take care of our health by making sure we follow the latest nutritional trends so as to combat hidden hunger and curb food insecurity. Moreover, we need to understand the interfaces between agriculture, nutrition, and food science in order to sustain our food system. Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT) has provided me with the environment to explore more opportunities through research and educate my scholars broadly on this field and through that, I have had an opportunity to influence their thinking and their actions towards contributing to the attainment of foodand nutrition securityin our country. Drawing inspiration from my husband and children who never lose their faith in me and whose spirit motivates me when I am low, I have pushed myself to be the best in this field. I am grateful to God, my family, DeKUT and I am proud of myself for believing in me; for doing all the hard work; for never quitting or giving up even when the tides got tough as they still do sometimes.”- Dr. Monica Mburu
Dr. Monica W. Mburu is our Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Food Bioresources Technology (IFBT) with over 10 years research and teaching experience here at DeKUT.She has specialized in food chemistry, food microbiology and food quality assurance. Since her employment here at the University, Dr. Monica has been involved in administrative work as the Chairman of the Food Science Department (2011-2012), External Attachment Coordinator (2014-2017) and Acting Deputy Registrar Research, Technology Management and Community Linkages (2017-2018). Before taking up the teaching job at the University, Dr. Monica was a Manager in the private sector. Among the companies and roles she served in are: Quality Control & Product Development Manager, Carlton Gallina Blanca Foods Ltd. (CGB Foods) from 2005 to 2006 and Quality Assurance Manager at Kenya Nut Company Ltd., from 2001 to 2004. AtCGB Foods, she underwent professional training on product research & development at the head office, Gallina Blanca Company, Barcelona Spain in April and May 2005. Since 2006, Dr. Monica has been working, on consultancy basis, with the food and horticulture industries in designing, planning and implementation of food control-related projects with emphasis on the food safety management systems including HACCP, ISO 22000, FSSC 22000, Global GAP, BRC and ISO 9001, among other customer related standards.
Dr. Monica received her professional training in B. Sc., Food Science Technologyfrom 1995 to 1999 and M. Sc. in the same field from 2006 to 2010 at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). She later pursued her PhD under sponsorship of DAAD in Country Scholarship, Kenya, at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, and graduated in 2016. Three years later, Dr. Monica got a Postdoctoral Research Stay for University Academics and Scientists, at UniversitätHohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany, in May to August 2019, under a research topic “Characterization of Chia Seeds (Salvia hispanica L.) grown in Kenya using Spectroscopy and Chemometrics." In addition to this, Dr. Monica has had training through short term professional courses which include Food Safety Training Workshop (BecA-ILRI Hub, ILRI Campus, Nairobi, Kenya December 2017); Food Safety Advisory Foundation Course for Consultants (International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank Group (June, 2017); Pedagogy – Effective Teaching Skills (DeKUT, May - June 2016); FSSC 22000 Lead Auditor (SGS Kenya, September 2015); Training of Trainers Capacity Building in Training and Communication Techniques (COLEACP Pesticides Initiative Programme (May-June 2013); Fair Trade Training (COLEACP Pesticides Initiative Programme (June 2012); Carbon and Water Management in Horticultural Exports from East Africa (PIP. Kenya, December 2011); Training of Trainers on Pedagogical Methods and Technical Contents for International ACP Experts in Kenya (EDES-COLEACP, November 2011); HACCP and Global Standard for Food Safety (BRC Version 5); CMI Certification (May 2009);Training of Trainers Course on Training and Communication Skills, Sustainable and Responsible Production, Ethical Production and Biological Control and Integrated Production (COLEACP Pesticides Initiative Programme, April 2009); Lead Auditor Course (IRCA ISO 9001:2008 (BSI Management System Training, February 2009), Training of Trainers Course on Training Skills, Principles of Food Safety, Risk Analysis and HACCP Method, Protocols, Food Safety Management System, Traceability and Data Search (COLEACP Pesticides Initiative Programme, September 2004); HACCP - Kenya Bureau of Standards (May 2003).
While performing her duties as a Senior Lecturer here at the University, this renowned researcher is currently coordinating various research projects like the National Research Fund (NRF) Multidisciplinary Project: "Potential of Chia (Salvia Hispanica L.) Farming in Kenya for improved Food Security, Nutrition and Health (2018-2021)”in partnership with KALRO and Obihiro University, Japan, therecently funded project by the Food Systems and Climate (FOSC) ERA-NET co - fund, Federal office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) Germany: "Integrated Chia and Oyster Mushroom system for sustainable food value chain in Africa (CHIAM)(2021-2024”.The FOSC partnership includeDedan Kimathi University of Technology and Keyrio Farm, Kenya; University of Sultan MoulaySlimane, Morocco; Agricultural Research Center, Egypt; Centre de RechercheScientifique et Technique sur les RégionsAridesUniversität, Algeria; UniversitätHohenheim, Germany; and Pilze-Nagy Ltd and Bay Zoltan Nonprofit Ltd for Applied Research, Hungary.Having attracted research funding, Dr. Monica is also managing five graduate and postgraduate research projects in the field of chia value chain. Some results of her research activities are in the publications in International Peer Reviewed Scientific Journals and Conference Proceedings.
This mother of 8 is a staunch Catholic devotee who believes in turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Her guiding bible verse is James 1:1-4 – “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials for you know that testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.” In emphasis, she says that God doesn't promise to remove every obstacle from our path, but He does promise to help us overcome them and climb higher in spite of them. Outside her involvement at DeKUT and her research projects, Dr. Monica is actively involved in community-based programs where she coordinates utilization of kitchen waste for organic farming promoting household food and nutrition sustainability through healthy food farming.
As an institution, we are guided by research as one of the pillars and Dr. Monica is one of the best in her field. Through her research and participation in molding more researchers and awakening the farmers in our community to the realization of chia farming for food security, nutrition and health, Kenya is making strides towards attainment of food security.