What is your educational background?
I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from the University of Uyo, Nigeria and a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.
What is your current occupation?
I am a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemical at the Federal University Wukari, Taraba State, Nigeria. I am also a TWAS-DFG Visiting Fellow and an Alexander von Humboldt fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Munich, Germany.
What or who got you into STEM?
The love for mathematics got me into STEM. I was really good in mathematics and this affected my results in any mathematics related subject. Because of this, I opted for the sciences in high school. My high school teachers advised me to go for Medicine and Surgery or Engineering in the University but I preferred Chemistry. To fulfill my love for mathematics, at the Postgraduate level, I decided to specialize in Physical Chemistry where I can apply Mathematics and Physics in solving Chemistry problems.
What is the biggest challenge/barrier you have faced as an African in STEM?
The major challenge is funding for research in Africa.
How do you think your background/upbringing has been beneficial in your journey/career?
Coming from a background where discipline, focus and commitment are the watchwords, I grew up with the determination to be the best in whatever I do.
How do you think we can start to change the narrative surrounding African contributions
to global STEM research & careers?
We must create an enabling environment for STEM research in Africa. Among other things, brain drain will reduce.
What advice would you like to give to young, aspiring Africans in STEM?
You can be the very best in whatever you choose to do if you are focused, determined, and above all disciplined.
Do you have any projects you’re working on that you would like us to highlight?
I am currently looking at chiral molecules of Astrophysical importance which can serve as seeds for the chemical origin of life. This is a multidisciplinary project which encompasses computational chemistry, laboratory molecular spectroscopy, astrochemical modelling and astronomical observation.