I am a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, studying the neuroendocrine regulation of fertility and reproduction in mammals. This involves delineating and understanding the neural and hormonal circuitry that dictates if/when/how an individual attains puberty and maintains reproductive fertility.
A very poor STEM foundation is the major setback. Lack of exposure to experimental facilities and opportunities during the prime age of development (early years of formal school through to secondary school) was demotivating to pursue STEM. The challenge persists now as chronic lack of research facilities, especially for basic/fundamental research in both research and learning institutions is demotivating.
Africans must seek meaningful and mutually beneficial scientific research collaborations and, where applicable, acknowledge their home institutions on publications. African media also should have a role by appreciating and highlighting the successes of their local STEM champions. That way, the upcoming generation of African STEM enthusiasts will know that fellow Africans have also been contributing to the body of scientific knowledge. Africans should also support regional and intracontinental collaborations for the sake of synergist research output.
Believe in yourself and seek opportunities; inferiority complex has held back many potential Africans from pursing STEM. Also, seek international exposure. Even if an advert seeks only one candidate from the whole world, believe that you too can compete favourably for it. Find mentors/role models and ask as many questions as comes to your mind.
On behalf of the Next Einstein Forum (Twitter handle: @NextEinsteinFor) I have been organising Africa Science Week in Zambia in the past two years. This is an annual weeklong activity-packed initiative targeted at everyone, to raise awareness, highlight and celebrate Africans in STEM and inspire the young generation to pursue STEM careers through hands-on science fairs, science expos, symposia, outreaches, workshops, etc.
Do you identify as an African in STEM? If so, please send us some basic information to see if we can profile you on the VSA page.
I think it’s about time you heard my story.