Who says Nigeria hasn’t got talent?
And it’s not just about Grammy nominated singers and Nobel-prize winning writers. We have some real eggheads, people who delight in tearing apart those monstrous, mind-boggling equations that don’t make any sense to most of us- just to solve a real-life problem; world-class scholars who defy the taunts of pessimistic colleagues to come up with groundbreaking work that revolutionizes their profession; and geniuses who have been part of the crew that stirs technology along its dizzyingly speedy path.
The best of them all is what we present to you:
- Philip Emeagwali
This man probably doesn’t need any introduction- but let’s just remind ourselves. He is the Nigerian inventor and scientist who received the Gordon Bell award in 1989 for the application of the CM-2 massively parallel computer for oil-reservoir modelling (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). In simple terms, his work with building an interconnected system of devices fed into the long, winding path that led to the creation of the internet as we know it.
- Oviemo Ovadje
Ovadje is famous for his invention, the EAT-SET (Emergency AutoTransfussion System), which is an effective and affordable blood transfusion device that has proved to be lifesaving for patients in developing countries. Dr Ovadje, who served as a doctor in the Nigerian Army, started work on this mechanism with $120. As a result of the invention, he became the first African to be awarded the Sasakawa Gold Medal in 2000.
- Samuel Achilefu
Dr. Samuel Achilefu, who is a professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, received the St. Louis Award for 2014 for making cancer-seeing glasses. The goggles designed by the Nigerian-born scientist and his team at Washington University could be used by surgeons in cancer removal surgeries to see the cancer cells they are trying to extract, thus making such operations easier.
- Bennet Omalu
Another Nigerian academic based in the United States. His discovery of the brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) was at first dismissed by the National Football League in the USA because it was linked to the frequent blows to the head that Omalu pointed to as its cause. They, however, admitted that it was a problem in 2009- after a number of NFL players had died of the disease.
- Kunle Olukotun
Kunle is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Stanford University, USA. In the mid-1990s, he began to push for multi-core processors to replace superscalar designs. He spearheaded the Stanford Hydra research project, which led to the creation of the first chip multi-processors.
- Bartholomew Nnaji
More than just a former minister of power, Professor Bartholomew Nnaji is known in academic circles for his work on robotics. He is the originator of the concept of geometric reasoning, the idea that most things we use have a geometric configuration. He is also one of the pioneers of the e-design concept, and founded the first indigenous power generating company in Nigeria- Geometric Power Limited.
- Omowunmi SadikWunmi graduated from the University of Lagos in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and obtained her PhD from Wollongong, Australia. She is now Professor of Chemistry at the State University of New York, Binghamton, New York. The Nigerian inventor has over 130 peer-reviewed papers and patents including patents on a number of biosensors. She developed microelectrode biosensors which can be used for drug and bomb detection.
- Alexander Animalu
Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. His work on superconductivity is recognised across the world. His book, Intermediate Quantum Theory of Crystalline Solids, has been translated into several languages, including Russian. His PhD thesis was included in a publication that has been referenced over 700 times, a record no other African scientist has broken.
- Olufunmilayo Olopade
Winner of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2005. Funmi graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1980 and went on to become Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. Her work has focused on the relationship between genes and the incidence of breast cancer in women of African descent. This has led to the development of individualised cancer management strategies.
- Winston Wole Soboyejo
Soboyejo earned a PhD in Engineering from Cambridge University in 1988 at the age of 23. He is Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University. He is also a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science, and president of the Scientific Advisory Board of the United Nations. His research deals with materials for energy, health and the environment.