A PhD student in the Department of Applied Chemistry, University of Johannesburg (UJ) has won a 2016 L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science fellowship. Ms Eseoghene Umukoro received the award on Tuesday, 28 September 2016 at a ceremony held at Sandton. The fellowships seek to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of women in science who are on the cutting edge of research in their fields.
Ms Umukoro was one of 14 female scientists from across Sub-Saharan Africa to be honoured for their work and impact in the scientific field. This year, about 319 applications from 26 countries were received indicating the competitiveness of the award, the increasing awareness of the fellowship programme and its commitment to advancing women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
Ms Umukoro’s doctoral research is titled Experimental and computational study of the electrochemical and photo-electrochemical oxidation of organic pollutants at carbon based-semiconductor composite electrodes. This research is under the supervision of Prof Omotayo Arotiba and Prof Catherine Ngila who are both at the Department of Applied Chemistry in the Faculty of Science. Ms Umukoro belongs to the Electrochemistry Research Group at the Department of Applied Chemistry headed by Prof. Arotiba (who is also the Director of the Centre for Nanomaterials Science Research, UJ). Her doctoral work is funded by the Faculty of Science; the Centre for Nanomaterials Science Research, UJ; National Research Foundation and the Water Research Commission of South Africa.
“Well done Eseoghene Umukoro. You are truly an inspiration to all young people who want to study Science! May many more follow in your footsteps,” said Prof Ngila. “We in the Faculty encourage people of all ages to follow their hopes, dreams and desires.”
Ms Umukoro said that she was overwhelmed with the success and described it as a motivation that will certainly inspire her to continue to contribute to the development of science in this country and her home country Nigeria.
“This is my best achievement for the year, and I owe all to God’s grace,” said Ms Umukoro. It is important to follow your passion and to be committed. “There are so many positives about being a scientist: opportunities to present your research, to interact at conferences and to carry out collaborations across the world. It really is a great career choice.”
Says Prof Arotiba: “We are grateful to God and proud of Ms Eseoghene Umukoro for becoming one of the prestigious L’Oreal-UNESCO Fellows. Her selection shows UJ’s commitment to nurturing and educating the region’s most promising young men and women in the field of science and technology. We hope other aspiring students will look up to Ms Umukoro as their role model and follow her footsteps in pursuing scientific excellence in the field of electrochemistry, nanoscience, water research and sustainability.”
The annual L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science Awards programme is meant to encourage women to conduct and complete doctoral research in the male-dominated field of science.
The fellowships are awarded annually to outstanding young female scientists who are studying in doctoral programs or who are expected to proceed to a doctoral program, to promote their research activities by supporting and funding a 12-month fellowships at universities or research institutions.
“Our changing world has never been in greater need of women and their discoveries. With the For Women in Science programme, the L’Oréal Foundation is committed to promoting these women in science who will change the world. We are determined to fight for science and to build a more beautiful world together,” stated Sandeep Rai, Managing Director, L’Oreal South Africa at the award ceremony.