Susan Ojochide (Nigeria), talks about her research that will contribute to tackling one of Africa’s worst enemies: Drought.
Tell us about yourself. Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Kwara State, western Nigeria, and I grew up in Kano State, northern Nigeria.
What inspired you into science in general, and the specific discipline?
I was fascinated by nature and the environment from an early age. As such, I always knew that I wanted to study science. The major turning point in my scientific path came during my undergraduate studies in Kogi State University, Anyigba town, Central Nigeria. I noticed that the town’s periphery was always cooler than the core within which the University is situated. This scenario sparked my curiosity and desire to understand variations in temperature in different spaces. Therefore, as part of my BSc studies in Geography and Planning, I conducted an analysis of the University as an urban heat island. I proceeded for an MSc at the Federal University of Technology Minna, Niger State, to study spatio-temporal variation of temperature in Kano State.
What is the focus of your PhD research?
I commenced my PhD studies in 2020, supported by the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF). I am registered in Bayero University Kano, Nigeria, an RSIF Host University. My research employs earth observation datasets and climate models to investigate drought as the result of spatio-temporal variations.
My area of focus is northern Nigeria, a semi-arid region that is part of the Sahel. While this region is the major producer of cereals and grains in Nigeria, it is prone to constant drought, with significant implications for food security. I aim to develop a model integrating ground station meteorological data, earth observation data and climate models.
I will undertake part of my studies through two-year sandwich program at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), Greenwich University, United Kingdom, to analyse the climate models using high computational systems, and compute my results.
How does your research contribute to the sustainable development goals?
This research contributes particularly to SDG 2: Zero Hunger. Drought is one of the major causes of food insecurity in Nigeria. My findings will boost existing knowledge on this phenomenon, and also contribute to the development of early warning systems to predict possible drought episodes.
The results will be useful to agro-meteorologists, farmers, decisionmakers and indeed, many stakeholders in agricultural production. Beyond the study area, the knowledge could also be applicable to other semi-arid regions across the content.
Who have been your key mentors?
First, is Prof. Salihu Danlami Musa, my supervisor during my undergraduate studies, and an environmental enthusiast who brought a captivating way of learning, through practical examples and analysis that are applicable in real life. Second, Dr Michael Thiel, who co-supervised my postgraduate studies, whose research focus is on climate change, land use and land cover, application of remote sensing for climate change studies in Africa. He has been very crucial in my growth, mentoring me in all research pursuits and encouraging me along the journey.
Interview published in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA): International Women’s Day 2021: Future Women Leaders – Young African women scientists reflect on their research journey.
It also appeared in the April 2021 edition of Africa Renewal: Tackling one of Africa’s greatest enemies – Drought