Afrisnet is nonprofit organization that is governed by a board of experts in research, teaching, and outreach. Our board members work with a dedicated staff team to ensure that the organization undertakes and accomplishes impactful projects according its mission. You may refer to our bylaws for a better understanding of Afrisnet’s structure, objectives, and mode of operation. Please, meet our Board of Directors and Officers presented on this page.
Board of Directors
Dr. Akuffo completed his Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree in 2011 at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and obtained his Ph.D. in 2017 at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland. He was then appointed as a Lecturer at the Department of Optometry & Visual Science (KNUST) in 2018 where he contributes to training the next generation of optometrists and vision scientists.
Dr. Akuffo has published over 20 scientific peer-reviewed articles and has contributed to several conference proceedings in his research field. He currently has external collaborations with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC; South Africa) where he is using data from the South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (SANHANES) to investigate prevalence of Eye Disease and its associated risk factors in South Africa. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and a member of the Ghana Optometric Association (GOA). He was recognized for his scientific excellence as ‘Affiliate of the African Academy of Sciences’ following a competitive evaluation process.
In addition to his academic and research work, Dr. Akuffo is very passionate about mentorship and the career development of students. Throughout his mentorship, students have won several prestigious international awards including the Harvard Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program (CELP) Fellowship, the Frans Osterhoff Travel Grants, and the Lois Schoenbrun Student Travel Fellowship. Dr. Akuffo currently serves as a Board Member of the African STEM Network (Afrisnet) and is supporting Afrisnet to build a strong global network that connects young talents in Africa to capacity building opportunities.
Dr. Soni Lacefield is an Associate Professor of Biology at Indiana University. She came to Indiana University in 2009 after finishing her PhD at MIT and postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. Dr. Lacefield runs a research lab studying meiotic and mitotic cell cycle regulation. The goal of her research is to understand how chromosomes mis-segregate, leading to conditions such as trisomy disorders and cancer. She also teaches cell biology to undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Lacefield became a member of Afrisnet after working with African graduate students at Indiana University, realizing that there are a lot of very bright and talented African students that may not have the opportunity to perform research due to a lack of resources. She currently runs a summer research program at Indiana University for undergraduate students from Kenya.
Gabriel Muhire Gihana
Dr. Muhire Gihana is a Postdoctoral Researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He holds a Ph.D. in Genome Cell and Developmental Biology from Indiana University Bloomington, USA. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from California Baptist University, where he graduated top of his class. Dr. Muhire Gihana is a co-founder of Afrisnet, together with Vincent Mwumvaneza. Dr. Muhire Gihana’s research focuses on understanding how cellular morphology and polarity affect cellular division and disease. He has received multiple fellowships and awards from Indiana University and elsewhere. Dr. Muhire Gihana was raised in Africa, where he grew up with limited academic and research opportunities. Through Afrisent, he strives to increase the exposure of African students to advanced research, with the goal of improving Africa’s participation in global research output and increase the student diversity in American graduate programs.
Vincent Mwumvaneza is a professional Civil Engineer licensed in multiple states in the USA. Mwumvaneza is a co-founder of Afrisnet, together with Gabriel Gihana. Mwumvaneza holds a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from California Baptist University. Through Afrisnet, Mwumvaneza strives to expose African students to advanced education and research in STEM fields.
Chief Financial Officer
Dr. Victoria Perez is an Assistant Professor at the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Dr. Perez earned her Ph.D. in managerial science and applied economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where her dissertation focused on the effects of private managed care on Medicaid. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania. Perez’s research interests include private and governmental financing of healthcare, insurance economics, and regulation. Her research has been published in Health Economics and the International Journal of Services, Economics and Management. She has also worked as a research assistant and programmer in the health policy division at Mathematica Policy Research. Dr. Perez believes competent African students deserve access to cutting-edge research, and so she joined Afrisnet to offer her contribution.