WOMAN IN ACADEMICS

 

 

Dr. Gabriel-Ajobiewe, a senior lecturer in the Department of Microbiology and one of the few women in Nigeria to bag the Fellowship of the prestigious African Women in Agricultural Research and development (AWARD) makes Our Woman In Academic Column for this edition. Dr. Ruth, as she is fondly called, in his interview with our correspondents, answers questions on her birth, education and career.

What is your educational background?

I began my education at Adeola Odutola Elementary School, Ogun State.

Thereafter, I proceeded to Adeola Odutola College and obtained a West Africa School Certificate in 1980. I went ahead to obtain an A Level Certificate at the Ondo State College of Arts and Sciences, Ikare-Akoko in 1983. I briefly attended the Ogun State Polytechnic, Abeokuta in 1984. In furtherance of my academic career, I graduated from the University of Ilorin with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biochemistry in 1988. Thereafter, I served with the Lagos State University, Ojo, as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Biochemistry in 1989. After about a 10-year break, I proceeded to obtain my Master of Technology in Microbiology, from the Federal University of Technology, Akure in 2002. I had another short break and went further to obtain the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) Degree in Food and Applied Microbiology from the Federal University of Technology, Akure in 2009.

How and when did you start your academic career?
I began my academic career with the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Akoko, Ondo State, as a Graduate Assistant (GA) in 2001. I was promoted to the rank of Assistant Lecturer (AL) in 2003, I became Lecturer II (L2) in 2006, Lecturer 1 (L1) in 2009 and Senior Lecturer in 2012, thereafter, I joined FUOYE.


Who is Dr. Ruth Adefolakemi Grabriel-Ajobiewe?
I hail from Ropeda ruling house, a traditional kingship clan called Etikan in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State. I was born to Pa. Augustus and Mrs. Monica Adegboruwa. I am the first child of my own mother. Interestingly, I am referred to as Princess Adefolakemi.


Briefly illustrate the fellowship award (i.e. African Women in Agricultural Research and Development), the content, aims, and purpose.




I won an International African Women Fellowship Award titled African Women in Agricultural Research and Development in November, 2012, as a post-doctoral fellow, just at the period I was joining FUOYE as an academic staff. The fellowship award is aimed at encouraging women scientists, particularly in the area of Agricultural Research to enhance their potentials and relevance due to their gender composition. Microbiology is related to Agriculture in many ways such as plant pathology, soil microbes in soil science which the microbiologists call Soil Microbiology and finally in the area of Food Science and Technology which is where I come in as a Food Microbiology both in processing, spoilage and infection of Foods or Food components.

 

The AWARD Fellowship has equipped me to fulfill my vision of being an impactive, visible scientist in my immediate community and West Africa at large. AWARD fellows are taught how to effectively mentor and work with groups of different characters, trained on scientific skills, such as writing good manuscripts and writing winning grant proposals and are also trained on leadership skills. The totality of this package makes the AWARD fellows fit to impact their communities all over Africa. The Fellowship is for the duration of two (2) years and is sponsored by the BILL & M ELINDA GATES INTERNATIONAL.

The fellowship award was given to me due to my work as a Food and Applied Microbiologist. The major content of the work is the processing of Mucuna into Iru, Dadawa, or Ogiri and packaging it as well as identifying the form in which the product is most acceptable by the people through survey. The aim is to
how to the rural community, thereby transfer the technical-know objectives involve the use of a special strain of Bacillus subtilis or B. lichenformis as a starter culture; evaluating the sensory properties; analyzing the nutritional and anti-nutritional properties and assaying for both the toxicological and health properties

 

My work centres on examining the nutritional and
toxicological aspects of food content through
fermentation.

My work centres on examining the nutritional and toxicological aspects of food content through fermentation. I worked on legumes, but specifically the under-utilized legume. My primary legume specie was the Mucuna species, the velvet beans or devils beans, My main focus is the fermentation of Mucuna specie to make condiments such as Iru, Dawadawa, Ogiri. I observed that food condiments are used largely in the southwest region and some parts of southeast region of Nigeria to flavour or savour meals and foods. The condiment is called Iru in the Southwest, Dawadawa in the North and Ogiri in the Southeast.


Although, most under-utilized legumes are dangerous for human consumption, because of the anti-nutritional factor (ANF) they contain, however, these under-utilized legumes have the higher percentage of protein content as compared to the highly utilized legumes. Under-utilized legumes contain 26% to 43% protein content, while utilized legume such as the common beans or cowpeas contains a maximum of about 22% protein. The Mucuna is indigenous to Nigeria. The Mucuna has the itching property that protects it from prey and danger. It can be made edible by reducing the anti-nutritional factor (ANF) through microbial fermentation. It has been researched that the Mucuna is a medicinal plant. It is used to cure low-sperm-count and Parkinson disease in children. Presently, there are evidences all over the world that Mucuna composites are used as ingredients added to the wheat flour used to bake bread, biscuits and confectionary.

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