Surviving without fossil fuels
24 December 2019
Today, we are excited to present Dr Suleiman, a researcher at the University of York, UK. His research aims to find alternatives to unsustainable fossils.
Research interest or field:
My research interests cover a diverse area of synthetic organic chemistry, organometallic chemistry and sustainable heterogeneous catalysis towards the conversion of bio-renewable resources into top value platform chemicals for the generation of a variety of non-fossil chemicals and fuels.
Tell us about your research in layman’s language:
My research involves designing a heterogeneous catalyst that efficiently converts plant-based materials into sustainable fuels and chemicals.
What do you enjoy about your research and what is it about the field that excites you?
My research has the potential to solve one of the biggest problems of over-dependence on fossil energy and chemicals.
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?
Indeed, I had always wanted to be a scientist since from my early school age which marked the start of my scientific curiosity.
Is there a Nigerian or African Scientist working today who you admire, and why?
I have a former lecturer by name Professor L. G. Hassan from Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, who I admire a lot and because of whom I developed so much interest in organic synthesis and research in general. To me, he was a teacher and a source of inspiration.
What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing scientists and their work in Nigeria?
Science is a discipline that is heavily dependent upon experimentation as such funding, and well-equipped laboratories are basic requirements necessary for a successful science teaching and research. Unfortunately, these are inadequate in Nigeria and therefore, in my opinion, pose the biggest challenge to scientists in Nigeria.
What are the challenges and sacrifice you have had to give for science or while doing science?
Limited/insufficient funding is the greatest challenge I faced while doing research.
Any success story or achievement (s) worth mentioning?
I am happy to have contributed towards the development of sustainable fuels and chemicals and have published articles in high impact journals such as ChemSusChem and the American Chemical Society Journal of Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering plus other pan African Journals of Science. I am also happy to have positively impacted the lives of many young people through my lecturing career.
What about science would you want to see it done differently in Nigeria?
Of course, I would want the Government and wealthy individuals to attach more importance towards developing science and technology. This should transmit into more infrastructure, funding and research grants.
Aspiration – What do you aspire to do next, could be research, grant, collaboration etc.
I want to further develop my research career in the sustainable production of chemicals and fuels and the use of sustainable porous carbon materials for the production of efficient energy storage devices.
A few words of advice for aspiring scientists.
Ensure dedication, sincerity and engagement with your research. Be prepared to take up challenges, as you only grow when you step out of your comfort zone. Focus your research on solving problems facing humanity.
What you wish to tell the public about your research or field.
My research focuses on how to get away from unsustainable fossil resource as the source of our energy and chemicals while embracing plant-based resources as a renewable and sustainable alternative.