Scientists Like The Government Should Be More Accountable To The People
13 January 2019
In our series of early career researchers stories, today, we present Dr Balogun Wasiu Gbolahan, who just concluded his PhD at the Universiti Sains Malaysia. Balogun had his BSc and MSc from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, before proceeding for his PhD in Malaysia. He attended St Leo's Catholic School, Ibadan, for his primary education, Baptist Secondary School Oke-Ado Ibadan for junior secondary education and School of Science, Oke-Bola Ibadan, for senior secondary education.
Research interest or field: Toxicology
What does it feel to finish your PhD?
I feel very excited that it is finally done! But I also now feel a sense of responsibility and apprehension
Tell us about your research in layman's language
Although our foods are the best source of wellness, they can also be the source of diseases such as cancer. My research deals with understanding the effect of two toxic chemicals found in food using earthworm as a model organism. Biologically, this organism is similar to us in many ways, but its system is simpler than ours, which makes it therefore a good model to use. Research like mine will help in unravelling the way and manner these chemicals affect our wellness and how to manage them.
What do you enjoy about your research and what is it about the field that excites you?
Earthworms are the last organism people will think about for research. My work has made people want to listen to me which I appreciate.
Did you always want to be a scientist? Tell us about your first exposure to science and whether it was why you developed an interest in It?
I have always wanted to be a scientist. I went to a science school during my secondary education. My first exposure to science came from our agricultural science class when we were made to plant a seed of bean and maize (monocotyledons and dicotyledons) and observe how they grow with a comparison of the two seeds.
What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing scientists and their work in Nigeria?
I think the biggest challenge facing science in Nigeria is that Nigerians do not see science as a way of solving our national problems. For example, Nigeria is blessed with many plants with medicinal properties, but there has not been proper funding to exploit these plants for drug discovery and management of diseases through scientific research. Also, the money dedicated for scientific research in Nigeria is inadequate. This is probably because the country is faced with many developmental problems. As such, science is not seen as a priority. For example, there's still inadequate power supply and poor sewage disposal system. So this makes science less a priority.
What about science would you want to see done differently in Nigeria?
Scientists like the government should be more accountable to the people. They should explain the importance of their research to the public and why it matters. Scientists should participate in discussions that influences and shapes government policies. The people should also see science as a tool for solving the developmental challenges facing the country.
Which Nigerian or African scientists working today do you most admire, and why?
There are many Nigerian/African scientist that I admire. For example, I love the diligence of Professor Oluwole Akinola. Professor Amadi Ihunwo also impresses me with what he's doing with young scientists. Finally, I admire Professor Iruka Okeke for her work in laboratory medicine.
If you weren’t a scientist, what do you think you’d be doing?
I think I will be a journalist. I love the news. I love current affairs
What do you think is the most significant scientific discovery of all time?
The discovery of the planetary bodies still amazes me.
Aspiration – What do you aspire to do next?
I am currently searching for a postdoctoral position to continue with my research. Because I believe learning continues. I intend also to attend international schools and conferences this year to form research collaborations.
A few words of advice for aspiring scientists and colleagues
Believe in yourself. Work hard and don’t quit
What you wish to tell the public about your research or field?
There is a belief that exposure to toxic agents by the mother, does not affect the future offspring. This is not true! Therefore, we should be careful what we eat, especially during pregnancy.
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