Who is Rose Suniso Maxwell Gidado JP, Lsm, PhD?
7 August 2018
Role model: Dr Florence Wambugu, Chairman and CEO Africa Harvest Biotechnology International Foundation, Nairobi Kenya.
Research: Industrial Microbiology: Isolation and Characterization of Ethanol Tolerant Yeast for the Industrial Production of Bioethanol.
The “gender-lens” view of Science which portrays the science career as masculine in Africa has lead to the severe reduction of women enrollment into science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM). In Sub-Saharan Africa, gender-based stereotypes and myths have discouraged many brilliant and talented girls from taking a career path in science especially in the northern part of Nigeria. Born in “mapeo” a small village, nestled deep in the heart of Adamawa northeastern region of Nigeria, Rose Suniso Maxwell Gidado (PhD) is a passionate Science Communicator, an astute Industrial Microbiologist and also the Assistant Director National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) & Country Coordinator for Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa, Nigeria chapter.
The Young Gidado
Growing up in “mapeo”, young and vibrant Gidado started her primary school education in “mapeo” but later moved to Luggere primary school Jimeta-Yola, and obtained her primary school leaving certificate in 1979. She then attended the prestigious Federal Government Girls College (FGGC) Yola. Throughout her secondary school, Gidado achieved excellent grades in all her subjects in both Science and Arts-History, Literature and was unbeatable in French. Her French teacher initially thought she was going to do Arts and major in French, even though her passion leaned towards science. In school, just when she was about choosing her subjects, her French teacher travelled. As a result, clever Gidado decided to go for science. It was a natural magnet! Her teacher became so angry upon her return, but Gidado was more comfortable and satisfied reading science.
Due to her thirst for knowledge, Dr Gidado attended The Federal Polytechnic Mubi,Yola and obtained a National Diploma in Food Science and Technology between 1987-1989 before moving to the pedagogic University of Maiduguri, where she obtained a bachelors of science degree in Food Science and Technology. Filled with remarkable energy, humble Gidado obtained her masters and doctorate degrees in Industrial Microbiology from the University of Abuja, Nigeria in 2007 and 2015 respectively.
Biotechnology Champion in Nigeria
Advances in science have triggered a set of technological advancements to improve the human condition, including the applications of biotechnology to medicine, industry and agriculture. Nigeria in an effort to key into these global advancements in science, technology and innovation established the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in 2001 to promote and develop cutting-edge biotechnology research tools and products for the socioeconomic development of the nation. Despite the government efforts to achieve a rapid paradigm shift in the economy through biotechnology, political and inherent sociocultural values due to lack of knowledge of the technology impeded its acceleration process.
It is noteworthy to mention that Dr Gidado is a “Champion of Biotechnology” in Nigeria; she has been actively involved in advocacy to dispel misconceptions within the realms of genetic modification technology and promote the public understanding of science and biotechnology in Nigeria and Africa. Due to her passion, in 2009 Dr Gidado facilitated and organised the lunch of OFAB Nigeria chapter which had in attendance the Minister of Science and Technology Dr Al-hassan Zaku and the then, Honourable Minister of Information and Communication Prof Dora Akunyili. The Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Nigeria chapter was initiated with a mission to enhance knowledge sharing and awareness on agricultural biotechnology, facilitate quality engagement on safety and benefits of modern agricultural biotechnology among all its stakeholders. In 2015, she facilitated the enactment process of the Biosafety Act into law. This led to the subsequent establishment of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), responsible for the regulation of use and commercialisation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Nigeria.
Since 2009, Dr Gidado has served assiduously as secretary to the OFAB planning committee and OFAB organiser. She is the secretary, Committee on Framework for Partnership on Research, Development & Innovation for Accelerated Industrial Development between the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) and the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment. She took part in a National Assignment, coordinated by the National Authority on Chemical & Biological Weapons Convention, The Presidency in 2006 and 2007 which involved the administration and collation of questionnaires on the database on microorganisms in Nigeria. Dr Gidado has facilitated collaborations between NABDA and many agencies/ organisations such as the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA), Monsanto International, Africa Harvest Biotechnology International and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agricultural Biotechnology (ISAA) to promote agricultural biotechnology in Nigeria. Through her hard work and relentless effort, 600,000.00 USD grant awarded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was won to expand the activities of OFAB to the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria for three years.
In 2001, Dr Gidado started her journey of advocating for biotechnology crops with her work in Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHETSCO) gwagwalada, Abuja while working at the Biotechnology and Genetic engineering laboratory. She later joined the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in 2003, she then facilitated local and international collaborations with NABDA to conduct research on biotechnology. On the 9th of April, 2009 Dr Gidado lunched the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa, Nigeria chapter which gave her the courage and a new impetus to do more. Indeed, her intellectual prowess mixed with a great deal of humility gives us much hope about science and women in Africa.
Dr Gidado has over 20 publications to her credit, organised and participated in several conferences, seminars, workshops and training on biotechnology both locally and internationally. She is a recipient of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) award in recognition of her dedication and commitment to excellence and mentoring in 2012. She is also a recipient of the Award of Excellence from the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN) in recognition of the vibrant role played towards promoting biotechnology in Nigeria, the passage and assent of the Biosafety Bill and the establishment of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA). Rose Suniso Maxwell Gidado currently serves as a member, Cornell Alliance for Science Advisory Board, and also a member of five professional bodies in Nigeria namely: Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN), African Society for Toxicological Sciences (ASTS), Nigerian Institute for Food Science and Technology (NIFST), Genetic Society of Nigeria (GSN) and Agricultural Society of Nigeria (ASN). She is happily married to Professor Maxwell Gidado and their union is blessed with a daughter.
Advice for aspiring scientists particularly women and girls
Believe you can do anything you set out to do. Even when they say a particular role is meant for men, women often do better. So, be you, remain focused and be consistent.
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