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Ange-Therese Akono Presents at First US-Africa Frontiers of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Symposium

Akono presented research on how nanotechnology can help develop sustainable construction materials

Northwestern Engineering’s Ange-Therese Akono was among the leaders in engineering and medicine who participated in the First US-Africa Frontiers of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Symposium, held October 12-14 at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Ange-Therese Akono

The US-Africa program brings together outstanding young scientists, engineers, and medical professionals from the United States and the member countries of the African Union for a series of symposia to discuss exciting advances and opportunities in their fields. The goal of these meetings is to enhance the scientific exchange and dialogue among young researchers in African countries and the United States, including the African science diaspora, and through this interaction, facilitate research collaboration within and beyond the region.

The event is organized by the National Academies, the African Academy of Sciences, the Office of Naval Research, and IBM Research - Africa.

Akono, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and (by courtesy) mechanical engineering, presented during the symposium’s session on materials science. Her talk, “Using Nanotechnology to Discover Advanced Sustainable Construction Materials to Promote Urban Development,” explored a collaboration between Northwestern and the Cameroonian Local Material Promotion Mission (MIPROMALO) to discover sustainable construction materials suitable for the tropical rain forest climates common in Cameroon. The researchers found how inorganic polymer cements, which result from mixing a source of aluminosilicate with an alkaline activating solution, present a green alternative that leverages locally available raw materials in the region and avoids the use of Portland cement, which has a high carbon footprint and exhibits low durability in humid climates. 

Ange-Therese Akono speaks during the event.

In her Sustainability and Nanomechanics Lab, Akono investigates fracture events in complex materials using fundamentals of nanotechnology, materials science, and theoretical and applied mechanics, with focus areas in geological materials, high-performance structural materials, and biomaterials.

Earlier this year, Akono received a received Johnson & Johnson’s 2022 WiSTEM2D Scholars Award in Design recognizing her work in creating novel scaffolds for bone tissue regenerative engineering.

Northwestern Engineering’s Sossina Haile, Walter. P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, served as co-chair of the symposium’s organizing committee.