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PHD Nutrition and Food Science, Nigerian

The youngest of four children, my mother is a widow having lost my father in 2012 after a long period of illness. Since childhood, studying and learning has been my lifelong pursuit. My mother was a primary school teacher and instilled in us a reading culture which nurtured the development of my inquiring mind and the desire for a career in academia. I am challenged by new opportunities to learn and eager to apply my knowledge to help Nigerian society to develop. I keenly look forward to paying special attention throughout my career to women and girls eventually helping to encourage girls throughout Africa to pursue science, technology and also engineering – with respect to food production as well as a host of other areas. 

During my volunteer work at an orphanage I realized the importance of ensuring an adequate dietary intake in order to maintain one’s health. As a Food Scientist, I stand at the intersection of human health and the nutritional quality of foods. Preliminary work during my MSc investigating the beneficial effects of epicatechin, a flavanol in milk chocolate, on vascular health has provided a clear foundation from which to pursue additional research in this area. As a PhD student, I would now like to explore the effect of dietary flavonoids and Vitamin D supplementation on vascular functions and cardiovascular risk markers. Fruits and vegetables are key components of the Nigerian diet and subsequently represent an invaluable means of improving the cardiovascular health of the Nigerian population. I strongly believe that working with the Richardson Center for Functional Foods and the Nu- traceuticals research team will provide me with the optimal opportunity to carry out this research using the state-of-the-art facilities at the University of Manitoba. Following my PhD, I wish to return to Nigeria with a firm science background that will enable me to continue research in the area of nutrition and health. My central passion and long term goal is to do everything that I can to improve the health of the popular classes of Nigerian peoples through adequate nutrition and public health education about nutrition.

Some of the challenges faced as a scientist in Nigeria include limited research facilities and funding for human intervention trials, the demoralization that results from an emphasis by institutions on the publication of papers with little regard for the quality of research conducted. Though more subtle than before, gender discrimination continues to exist. This may be a positive motivator for some female scientists and science students but for others it can be demoralizing and counterproductive. In Nigeria in 2013, only 19% and 16% of science and engineering posts respectively were occupied by women (Aderemi et al., 2013). There are also anecdotal reports of a tendency for women, as opposed to their male counterparts, to be viewed as  incompetent except for those who are especially highly qualified. The funding for my MSc was made possible by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) Nigeria. However, changes in exchange rates necessitated significant personal supplementation towards the end of the program. Consequently, gaining the Slumberger Faculty of the Future Scholarship is vital in order for me to be able to earn my PhD since my current monthly salary is little more than 100 US dollars per week. Earning the PhD at XXXX will allow me to explore my capabilities and develop transferable skills through participation in conferences, training and publications. Working on original, highly creative research inspired by the novel ideas and intellectual development to which I will be exposed. My PhD research experience will enable me to become an innovative researcher focused on carrying out high quality research in Nigeria and will also allow me to inspire female students at my home university to pursue a career in science.

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