Written by Henry Neondo
Prof Judi Wakhungu until today the Executive Director of the African Center for Technology Studies (ACTS) in Nairobi, Kenya now becomes the new Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Energy. A woman who for years alternated with her sister Susan on being Kenya's number one lawn tennis player has however to wait a parliamentary approval.
Prof Wakhungu was most recently an Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Pennsylvania State University where she also served as the Director of the Women in the Sciences & Engineering (WISE) Institute.
A Kenyan scientist, Prof Judi Wakhungu, has also recently been nominated to advise world leaders on how to tackle global climate change and food scarcity and sits on the global Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change.
Prof. Wakhungu's research interests include energy resources management; materials; energy policy and development; science, technology, and development; and gender issues in science and technology policy.
Prof. Wakhungu received a B.S. in geology from St. Lawrence University in New York, a M.S. degree in petroleum geology from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada, and her Ph.D. in energy resources management from Pennsylvania State University.
She has held a number of energy sector positions in the civil service, industry, and higher education in her native country of Kenya, where she has a long list of firsts.
She was the first woman geologist in the Ministry of Energy and Regional Development, where her duties entailed exploring for geothermal energy in Kenya's Rift Valley.
Prof. Wakhungu was also the first female petroleum geologist in the National Oil Corporation of Kenya. She was also the first female faculty member in the Department of Geology at the University of Nairobi.
Prof. Wakhungu has served on many boards and committees, both nationally and internationally. She was the Research Director of the Global Energy Policy and Planning Program of the International Federation of Institutes for Advanced Study (IFIAS), which is based in Toronto, Canada. She has served as the Project Leader of the Renewable Energy Technology Dissemination Project of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).
Prof. Wakhungu also has the distinction of being the 'designated energy expert' for the United Nations Commission of Science and Technology for Development (Gender Working Group). She has also served as the Executive Director of the African Technology Policy Studies (ATPS) Network.
She serves on several national and international boards, task forces, and committees including the African Conservation Centre, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), the GoDown Arts Centre, the Institute for Security Studies, the Lemelson Foundation, the Legatum Centre at MIT, the WorldFish Centre and the World Bioenergy Association.