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2018 Graduation Keynote Speaker

Profile of Professor Ama de-Graft Aikins


Ama de Graft Aikins Photo for IAS Website

Ama de-Graft Aikins is a Professor of Social Psychology and the Dean of International Programmes at the University of Ghana, Legon. She had her primary school education at Morning Star School, and her secondary education at Wesley Girls’ High School and South Thames College, Putney, London, where she completed her A- Levels in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. After gaining her first degree in Pharmacology from the University of Manchester in 1994, she received an MSc in Psychology from Manchester Metropolitan University in 1998. She got her PhD in Social Psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in 2005 and completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Cambridge in 2006. After research and teaching positions at the University of Cambridge and at LSE, she joined the University of Ghana as a senior lecturer in 2009. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011 and then to full Professor in 2015. She was the first female full professor of Psychology at the University of Ghana.

Ama de-Graft Aikins’ research focuses on the experiences and the representations of chronic physical and mental illnesses, as well as the burden of Africa's chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD) and the social psychology of knowledge production in African settings. She has led, and participated in, interdisciplinary NCD research projects based in Ghana, Europe and the United States with colleagues from Legon, University of Amsterdam, New York University (NYU) and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Her research has been funded through competitive grants from major funders including the British Academy, The European Union and Grand Challenges Canada. She has conducted commissioned research and provided expert advice on health and NCD policy for organizations including the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Inter-Academy Panel (IAP). Her research has produced over 100 peer-reviewed scholarly publications and she has presented her research at over 100 conferences, high level meetings and university seminars in 25 countries. She teaches Psychology, Philosophy of the Social Sciences and Qualitative Research Methods at the University of Ghana, Legon. She has supervised and mentored undergraduate, masters and PhD students in Social Psychology, Social Policy, Sociology, Public Health and Population Studies at Legon, LSE, LSHTM, NYU, University of Sussex, University of Amsterdam and Australian Catholic University.

Ama de-Graft Aikins has received prestigious awards and fellowships including the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) postdoctoral fellowship in 2005, Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar award in 2009, Inter-Academy Panel (IAP) Outstanding Young Scientist Award in 2011 and the LSE African Initiative Fellowship in 2013. She is a visiting senior fellow at the LSE and University College London (UCL) and a fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Beyond her academic work, Ama de-Graft Aikins is a trained psychological counsellor and she has a keen interest in literature and the arts. She worked with children and young people in the UK, was the SOS-HGIC emotional counsellor and school psychologist between 2009 and 2012, and provides occasional private counselling services. She has written articles and blogs on Ghanaian art and popular culture and, presently collects art from young unknown Ghanaian artists, until she can afford the Ghanaian classics! She is married to Yaw Awuku Boohene, with whom she shares an obsession with freshly brewed coffee and heated debates about politics.