Today’s STEM WOW is the Senior Lecturer and founding Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Ghana, Dr. Elsie Effah Kaufmann.
After her graduate studies, she received her postdoctoral training at Rutgers University, before joining the University of Ghana in 2001.
From the University of Pennsylvania on the U.S. she holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE), a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) and a PhD in Bioengineering.
When asked why she got into STEM, Dr. Effah Kaufmann simply said, ‘The opportunity to explore and the possibility of using science to solve real-life problems was irresistible.”
Speaking to Nsesa Foundation, Dr. Effah Kaufmann named her role as a mother of 3 and her contribution to Biomedical Engineering education in Ghana as her greatest achievements.
“I was a member of the Planning Committee set up by the Academic Board of the University of Ghana to make proposals for establishing the Faculty of Engineering Sciences and was also a member of the three-person Implementation Committee set up by the Vice Chancellor following the submission and adoption of the Planning Committee’s report.
“I was appointed as the first Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2006 and served as Head for a number of years (2006-2012, 2014-2016).
“In 2010, I was elected to represent non-professorial academic staff on the highest decision-making body of the University of Ghana, the University Council, a position I held for four years. In 2011, I was a winner of the prestigious International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation Fellowship.
“I was the recipient of the University of Ghana’s Best Teacher Award for the Sciences in 2009. I am also keenly interested in Science education at all levels and have been the Host/ Quiz Mistress of the Ghana National Science & Mathematics Quiz TV Programme since 2006.
I was the 2017 Impact Africa Summit Laureate for Education in Ghana. The award recognised my “exceptional and continuous contribution to science education in Ghana and for being a role model and inspiration to many young girls, activities which are vital to achieving Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 5.”
Dr. Effah Kaufmann also talked about the lack of cooperation and unjustified expectations she had faced as a woman in STEM.
“I usually deal with challenges by reminding myself of my goals and committing to a plan of action that will lead to success. These actions help to put the challenges into perspective. I seek advice from my mentors too.”
She then adviced women in STEM to do their best at all times because, “hard work doesn’t kill and your efforts are definitely worth it. There are many looking up to you and many others rooting for you!”
Dr. Effah Kaufmann is a Board member of The BEIGE Bank, the African Gifted Foundation Ghana (African Science Academy) and the British International School-Ghana.
She is also the current President of the Ghana Society of Biomedical Engineers.
Her teaching and research focus on Tissue Engineering, Biomaterials and Application of Biomedical Engineering concepts to the solution of problems in the Ghanaian context.