What is your educational background?
BSc. Pre-professional Zoology from Northwest Missouri State University, PhD in Biology specializing in Neuroscience at the University of Iowa and Postdoctoral training first at Rutgers University in New Jersey and then at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
What is your current occupation?
Assistant Professor in Neuroscience at the University of Virginia studying microglia in neurodevelopment and neurodevelopmental disorders. The research lab I lead studies microglia (the immune cell of the brain) in development and pathology. We use cutting edge approaches to understand the role of these cells in normal development, the mechanisms and significance of their interactions with other brain cells as well as their actions in different pathologies. You can read more about our work here: https://med.virginia.edu/neuroscience/research/research/eyo-lab/people/
What or who got you into STEM?
High School interest since I was in Nigeria.
What is the biggest challenge/barrier you have faced as an African in STEM?
Not seeing other trainees of African descent being represented during my training.
How do you think your background/upbringing has been beneficial in your journey/career?
My identity in my family background was very solid and gave me the strength and stamina to endure and persevere through my career thus far and hopefully henceforth
How do you think we can start to change the narrative surrounding African contributions
to global STEM research & careers?
More representation: seeing more Africans giving talks and presentations at international and national meetings /conferences would help. Perhaps some programs could be made to give African students the opportunity for short-term research training in laboratories in the West.
What advice would you like to give to young, aspiring Africans in STEM?
Going into STEM in the West is hard but highly rewarding. Seek good colleagues, be wise and be astutely practical about it.