|7 Dec 2022
|2022 Finalists Global Student Prize
Erikan Baluku is master’s student in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town. He previously did his bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Laboratory Technology at Makerere University. Erikan is a scientist, social entrepreneur, public speaker and mentor whose long-term goal is to support and educate the next generation of students and scientists in Africa. He has research interests in synthetic biology concentrating on phage therapy and Crispr technology and is Global Biotech Revolution’s Leader of Tomorrow 2022.
As co-founder of Mosquito Guard Uganda, Erikan created a mosquito repellent jelly which was then distributed in Uganda. Erikan additionally carried out malaria awareness campaigns in different districts in Uganda, outlining preventive measures such as cleaning drainage systems, clearing bushes around homes and sleeping under mosquito nets. Erikan has presented this work to EPIC program and NoVo Metrix Africaand his team has now received funding from the MasterCard Seed fund program.
Erikan volunteers as iGEM Ambassador to Africa and is Head of Ambassador Program at Synbio Africa, a company that creates sustainable biosynthetic technologies for Africa, where he has guided teams of young researchers in Kenya, Uganda and Egypt. Through his ambassadorship, he has been able to network with students from over 40 countries globally and mentored over 50 students from African Universities such as Cairo University, Makerere university, and American University of Cairo. Erikan has also collaborated with lecturers from universities such as the University of Edinburgh and Ohio State University on projects and training.
At Makerere University, Erikan was in the Guild Representative Council representing over 1000 students and acted as a bridge between students and school administrators. During his first year at University of Cape Town, he took up the role of class coordinator, organising lecturers to teach students. He also carried out orientation and counselling sessions for his fellow students discussing their education, goals, and inspiring through his own journey of education.
Erikan is also engaged in community awareness programs on sexual reproductive health and rights, as well as gender-based violence issues facing the community. He leads the team of peer educators in Kasese district targeting youth to identify sexual reproductive health and rights challenges they face and carries out awareness and advocacy work. This work involved partnership with organizations such as Reach A Hand Uganda and ACODEV as key stakeholders, and Erikan developed school outreach programs and community gatherings. Through the peer educator program, Erikan has impacted many youths by reducing the number of teenage pregnancies and rapes in Kasese district.
Erikan wants to establish an incubation hub which will have the mandate to train, mentor and source funding for young entrepreneurs and innovators to solve problems in the field of health, agriculture and the climate. This will include bringing together leaders different backgrounds such as policy makers, scientists, academics, social scientists and engineers to periodically review progress and evaluate the different projects that can impact communities.