Bristol University funds Ethiopian PhD student in volcanology

George Elliston and Tesfaye Temtime Tessema Image copyright Bristol University
Image caption George Elliston helped to fund the PhD scholarship place for Ethiopian student Tesfaye Temtime Tessema

A Bristol university graduate who died in Africa has had a scholarship set up in his name that aims to aid understanding of volcanoes in Ethiopia.

Michael Dreyfus died in a crash near the Great Rift Valley in neighbouring Kenya, on his birthday in 1978, an area where volcano research is taking place.

The £102,000 PhD place has been partly funded by Mr Dreyfus's friends and Bristol University.

Tesfaye Temtime Tessema, 35, will study volcanology in Bristol for three years.

Bristol University and Addis Ababa University want to develop a long-range volcanic eruption forecast for the Ethiopian Rift, as it is largely unknown but heavily populated with wildlife and people.

Mr Tessema, who recently completed his Masters in Addis Ababa, will focus his research on studying the landscape using specialised techniques as part of the on-going five-year £3.7m RiftVolc study, which both universities are involved with.


This work focus on the tectonic plate activity that leads to earthquakes as well as volcanoes, as both are possible in the Great Rift Valley.

"People are used to living with the risk of earthquakes in Ethiopia but it isn't a top priority for the government, so research like this is really important for improving people's understanding and assessing the threat they pose," Mr Tessema said.

The fund was partly donated by Mr Dreyfus's friends, George Elliston, and Skip and Cathy McMullan.

George Elliston, said: "Mike was a quick-witted and charismatic man, whom we all loved.

"He died close to the Rift Valley, and here we are in another part of the Rift, looking to the future.

"So, it's a nice way of keeping his memory alive in our hearts, and establishing some continuity between successive Bristol generations."

The overall aim of the Michael Dreyfus Scholarship Fund is to develop a network of trained Ethiopian scientists who can research volcanology and advise and shape government policy.

Image copyright Bristol University
Image caption The volcanic activity in Great Rift Valley is being researched by Bristol and Addis Ababa universities

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