Pritzker Fellow Kevin Njabo knows how to make the impossible happen

Kevin Njabo, director of Africa Programs for both the Center for Tropical Research (CTR) and Congo Basin Institute, has been awarded the 2017 IoES Pritzker Environment and Sustainability Education Fellowship. The annual fellowship is made possible through an endowment from the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation and recognizes instructors for their contributions to academic programs.

Hailing from Cameroon in central Africa, Kevin experienced firsthand the challenges that face students from that part of the world when pursuing their higher education dreams. In fact, Kevin’s made it a mission to ensure his students have every opportunity for success and thinks nothing of going the extra mile for them.

“Every time I go to Cameroon with Kevin, he’s got five or six laptops, some cameras and GPS units in his bag that he’s taking to students,” said Tom Smith, director of CTR. “So not only does Kevin connect students with organizations that donate free research equipment, he helps them apply, and then hand delivers the equipment to them.”

Kevin has always exhibited creative ways of getting from point A to point B, Smith said.

Wanting to go to grad school Kevin heard about some researchers studying birds in Cameroon. He didn’t know anything about birds, but quickly studied up so he could connect with the researchers. Those efforts paid off and Kevin completed a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology at Boston University.

And when his daughters wanted to learn how to swim, Kevin got a book to teach himself first, and then taught his girls. His eldest daughter went on to play water polo in high school.

Kevin in currently working with IoES senior practicum students to develop a model for sustainable ebony production and logging in Cameroon, partnering with Taylor Guitars.

He’s also just been elected as the Society of Conservation Biology’s (SCB) vice president for membership. Previously he served on SCB’s African board of directors and was president of the Cameroon Chapter.

Kevin is hoping to leverage this new position to help make SCB attractive to people from both science and non-science backgrounds. “We need to involve non-scientists into our business,” he said. “We need to understand the language of lawyers, policy makers, social scientists and speak in a language that will be attractive enough to transform our results to practical policies.”