Developing Scientists in the Developing World
Published March 20, 2018
This essay is part of a series of guest posts from Academy Members and Ambassadors. For more content by and about our Members and Ambassadors, click here.
Science is such a great tool because it has the potential to offer solutions to real life problems. This makes studying science a great experience, but an experience that is not without challenges, especially for those of us from developing countries.
My name is NseAbasi Etim, and I am from Nigeria. I hold a PhD in Animal Physiology. As a scientist from a developing country, with all my education and work undertaken in my country, I have encountered countless hurdles, ranging from lack of technical know-how to lack of funding. Because many of my teachers were not exposed to practical science, most of their lectures were theory-based. To develop my skills, I often combined watching videos on YouTube’s many science channels with the guidance of laboratory scientists. This helped me learn how to conduct some of the laboratory analysis I needed to do for my research.
In addition, from the start of my undergraduate through my graduate studies, all my research was personally funded because there were no research grants available. Moreover, there are inadequate laboratory equipment/facilities. For example, as a student, I had to pay for reagents that were used for laboratory analysis in addition to covering my school fees. And many of the research samples that I collected could neither be preserved nor analyzed. Because of this, it was not possible to conduct the in-depth studies I was hoping to complete.
Other major challenges included classroom and office environments that weren’t conducive to research, the lack of an internet connection on campus, irregular water supply, and power outages, all of which made my studies very challenging.
Despite all that, with determination, hard work, and commitment, I graduated with a grade point average of 5.00 for both my Masters and PhD studies. Nothing has yet extinguished my goal of becoming a great scientist, and I am grateful that in the past 3 years, my research has won awards in United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, and India.
All of this has helped inspire me to mentor the next generation of scientists through Academy’s Global STEM Alliance programs. It has also pushed me to save money in order to attend local and international conferences, seminars, workshops, and training courses in order to continually develop my research skills. The knowledge and meaningful feedback I received from diverse groups of scientists from different backgrounds after presenting my research papers at conferences has given me great insights into my work. These events have also helped me build my communication, critical thinking, and leadership skills. And perhaps, most importantly, these trips give me motivation, helping me devise new research questions and concepts, explore different scientific disciplines, and consider interdisciplinary research.
I believe that there is no limit to the extent to which a scientist can and should develop herself so that we can help to solve the world’s problems. No matter how bad the situation is in any part of the world, scientists should do their best to bring about the solutions the world so desires.
NseAbasi NsikakAbasi Etim holds a PhD in Animal Physiology and is a lecturer in the Department of Animal Science at Akwa Ibom State University in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. She is both an Academy Member and Ambassador and has served as a Global STEM Alliance mentor in both the 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures and STEM U programs. You can find her on Twitter @Nsebobo1.
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