Kenya, Rants

Today was International Women’s Day and ILRI held a few events to honor women in science. In addition to listening to speeches and drinking coffee, seventy girls from local high schools came to tour the labs and talk to our female scientists. In the afternoon we watched a few videos, one of which, by writer and activist Isabel Allende, was very moving. The speech was given as a TED Talk in 2007.

Continue Reading

Food, Travel

If you don’t like the sour Ethiopian bread injera, steer clear of “Tibs Firfir”! It’s number 50 on the menu at the National Cafe in downtown Addis, next to the National Theater and the big lion statue. In Amharic it looks like this: ጥብስ ፍርፍር. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I made a bit of a mistake ordering dinner tonight with a friend in Addis Ababa. We decided we both liked tibs, an Ethiopian dish with roasted meat and, sometimes, tasty sauteed vegetables. What we didn’t know is that the “firfir” changes the game completely! Your itty bitty pieces of meat come mixed with shredded injera wrapped in a huge, pancake-like injera!

Continue Reading


I’ve been in Addis Ababa since this morning. The taxi picked me up at my house at 5:30 AM and I was in the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa at 10. Not bad! I’ll be in Ethiopia for another ten days or so, mainly doing some capacity building of the ILRI Addis web development team on the Linux platform (they currently use Windows as a server platform but want to move some applications to Linux servers). I was in Ethiopia last year, but I didn’t take a bus this time so I am already off to a better start.

I’ve got a great room in the hostel here at the ILRI campus. The campus is much more beautiful than I’m used to (hard to believe if you’ve seen the Nairobi campus). For example, today I was sitting in my office just before dusk and I saw a dik-dik grazing in the grass just outside my window. The working environment here is much different too. After lunch we all went for coffee in the campus bar, then took a walk around the compound. I thought my counterparts just wanted to take a stroll, but looked behind me and saw another twenty people just walking and chatting. It felt like a walk to cure cancer or something, very leisurely and social. We don’t do that at ILRI Nairobi…

Continue Reading