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Faculty Directory

The Michigan State University African Studies Center has close to a hundred Core Faculty with experience on Africa, probably one of the largest in the nation. The Center features many scholars in social science, agricultural economics, African languages, the arts and humanities, education, health and medicine and many other fields.

The faculty members are listed alphabetically by college and departmental affiliation, noting geographical areas of Africa experience, and teaching and research interests.

If you are interested in becoming a part of the African Studies Center's Core Faculty, please fill out the Membership Request form

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Deo Ngonyani Department: Linguistics & Languages
Countries/Research: Tanzania
Email: ngonyani(at)

Folu Ogundimu Department: Journalism
Email: ogundimu(at)

Olorunseun Ogunwobi Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Cns
Email: ogunwob1(at)

Michael Adetayo Olabisi Department: Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics
Email: olabisim(at)

Jennifer Olson Department: Media & Information
Email: olsonjj(at)

Lynn Paine Department: International Studies
Email: painel(at)

Jane Payumo Department: Center for Global Connections
Email: payumoja(at)

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Biography: Dr. Jane Payumo is the Global Research Evaluation Manager of the Center for Global Connections (CGC). She works closely with the CGC Director to formulate and implement the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and global research evaluation goals for CGC and AgBioResearch. She develops appropriate metrics and tools for evaluation, collect statistical data, and conduct research and evaluation studies. She also liaises with CANR and other units in the university to build comprehensive M&E system and deploy research intelligence techniques to assist in the planning, monitoring and impact assessment of CGC and AgBioResearch activities. Dr. Payumo’s academic and policy-related publications ( focus on scientometrics, innovation management, technology transfer and intellectual property management (IP) of knowledge products in agriculture. Her interests include: internationalization of science, data-driven analytics and research evaluation, IP management for development countries, econometric studies on international development, and metrics design and development. Prior to joining MSU, she worked at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, Washington State University, and Philippine Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. She also has adjunct faculty appointment with Washington State University and a core faculty of MSU’s Center for Gender in Global Context and MSU’s Africa Studies Center. She received her Doctor of Philosophy at Washington State University, Pullman, WA; and undergraduate and Master’s degrees in the Philippines both with distinction and honors.

Amber Pearson Department: Geography
Email: apearson(at)

Erik Ponder Department: MSU Libraries
Countries/Research: South Africa
Email: ponderer(at)

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Biography: Erik Ponder is the African Studies Librarian at MSU Libraries. Mr. Ponder has curated and contributed to several library exhibits on Africa and has worked on several digital humanities projects, with the most recent project an interactive educational initiative conducted in South Africa. The goal of the educational initiative, entitled “Johannesburg, the African City,” was to provide high school students with a greater contextual understanding of contemporary South African society through the exploration of Black South African literature facilitated by a combination of discovery, conversation, research, and interactive experience. This website ( is the home to the project and has provided a place for students and instructors to have an open dialogue on the topics of South African literature, culture, and society. He is currently co-directing a documentary film on anti-apartheid activism in Chicago during the 1980’s.

Robert Richardson Department: Community Sustainability
Countries/Research: Zambia; Côte d’Ivoire; Mali; Kenya; Tanzania; Malawi

Email: rbr(at)