Season 1 Ep 6 🎙️🎙️🎙️

13 February 2023 Categories: latest news, Mazungumzo Podcasts, News

The Journey of a Resilient African Mother in Science and Leadership

Link to the full episode:  | Listen on Anchor FM

Podcast Summary

Today’s episode features the inspiring story of Professor Chioma Blaise Chikere, a visionary leader and scientist, who is breaking barriers and defying stereotypes in research. As a mother and African woman, she’s on a mission to show the world the potential of women and the importance of giving them a voice. Hear her story of overcoming academic bias and progress to a successful career in academia. Prof. Chioma proves that if you’re not given a seat at the table, bring your own folding seat and create a space for yourself.

Professor Chioma Blaise Chikere is a full Professor in the Department of Microbiology, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Her area of specialization is Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology with focus on bioremediation of hydrocarbon-polluted matrices and biomining for hydrocarbon degradative genes in hydrocarbon degrading microbes using high-end sequencing techniques. She is the Director, Entrepreneurial Centre University of Port Harcourt, and was most recently appointment by the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) Wageningen, the Netherlands, as The Senior Country Ambassador for Nigeria.

Here are key things to listen out for:

Background: Chioma comes from an educated family, where her father was a renowned chemist and her mother was a registered nurse with versatile expertise. Her parents instilled in her a love for education and a drive to be excellent in her studies.

Education: Chioma studied microbiology at the Abia State University and went on to earn her master’s degree in industrial microbiology and her PhD in molecular biology. She was awarded the Best Doctoral Thesis in Biological Sciences in 2010.

Research Focus: Her research focuses on the remediation of polluted sites in the Niger Delta and has made significant contribution to the field that has garnered recognition globally.

Balancing Family and Career: Chioma has had to balance motherhood and family, while pursuing her dream of becoming a globally recognized scientist from Africa.

Working with communities: Her work in reclaiming the polluted farmland and involving the local community in the project shows the power of collaboration and community engagement in addressing environmental issues.



Intro: Welcome to Mazungumzo – African Scholarly Conversations, a podcast that highlights the perspectives of various stakeholders in academia and research fields across Africa through open dialogue or ‘Mazungumzo’ on scholarly communication in Africa. We are joined by an expansive list of African policymakers, science communication specialists, innovators, and tertiary institution leads who contribute to this realm of science communication.

Joy Owango: Today’s guest is Prof. Chioma Blaise Chikere, an award-winning Professor of Environmental Microbiology & Biotechnology at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria. Other capacities she occupies are:

  1. Director- Entrepreneurial Centre, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria


2. Academic Associate/Research Fellow- Department of Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Florida Science Campus, University of South Africa (UNISA), South Africa


3. Member, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Africa Council


4. Senior Country Ambassador (Nigeria), International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME), Wageningen, the Netherlands with all these accolades I’m happy to welcome Professor Chikere. A very warm welcome to the programme!

Prof. Chioma Blaise:

Thank you so much Joy, Executive Director of TCC Africa. It’s such an honor to be on this platform. Thank you so much for the confidence that you reposed in me that my story should be shared with fellow Africans, especially women in the African higher education institutions. Thank you so much.

Joy Owango:

Karibu sana! You have done so well in achieving your goals, your family goals, and also your career goals. You’re an award-winning researcher, and you pretty much have a family. For most women researchers, this can be a bit of a challenge. But as we get to that, tell us more about yourself and your research history to where you are. Tell us more about who you are and where you’ve reached so far.

Prof. Chioma Chikere:

Thank you so much for the opportunity. I am Chioma Blaise Chikere born to iconic parents with passionate love for education decades ago. My father was a chemist of renown, and my mother, a registered nurse with very versatile expertise spanning midwifery ophtomology and administration. They fought so hard to show I had the best of formal education. So my parents were educated. They were civil servants in Nigeria, and my father, being an educationist. He was director of schools in secondary school in Nigeria, and he was also a principal and served for over 40 years in secondary education in Nigeria, and served in Nigeria union of teachers and association in different capacities and equally had national awards and honors as a result of his meritorious service. My father loved education and I’m from a family where everybody is educated. So coming from such a background, there was nothing else that my parents drummed into my years as the first child of a family of two, other than excellence. And so I started off my first day in school, having this focus that for me to win the attention to win the love of my parents, I must be excellent and exceptional in my delivery, as a pupil, as a student, as a scholar, and that drove my passion. I could remember vividly my father read chemistry and marine biology option as a minor. My father always bought three different texts in chemistry, in physics, in mathematics in English and biology for me, so I’ll have three different texts in the same subject from three different known reputable publishers. So at every point in time, I was always reading and studying, and that shaped my aspiration to being a scientist. I studied microbiology at first degree at the Abia State University Uturu, Nigeria, I proceeded after my National Youth Service to the Federal University of Technology Owerri, in Imo state Nigeria to to do my master’s degree In Industrial microbiology, I finished on a very resounding note. And I got my organization for women and science for the developing world (OWSD) does the post PhD fellowship in 2005, just as I concluded my MSc program, and that was funded for me to spend three years in University of Pretoria to get my PhD. But things changed because that same year, I was employed in the University of Port Harcourt. And I needed to complete two years probation period before I would be granted will be eligible for study live. Shortly afterwards, my husband to be started coming around, and I got wedded, and as I wedded, I couldn’t leave the young family. And I had just been employed in the university. So this led to changing my mode of study to split site option for me to do part in University of Port Harcout, I had to register as a part time students in the University of Port Harcout for my PhD and then to complete with a research site visit that I spent six months in 2008, from March to August, under the supervision of Professor Eugene and I finished the part of the research the molecular biology, aspects of the research that we hadn’t the capacity and the equipment in my department as at the time I left Nigeria. So that exposure really gave me the leap. The OWSD fellowship gave me the leap, and the launchpad that took me higher in my research at the career trajectory. I was exposed to cutting edge technology, cutting edge methodologies, cutting edge scientific protocols, that really gave my research outputs, very global outlook and projection. So with that, I was able to travel far and wide, present at international conferences and that’s equally led to my winning subsequent research grants. I know after that, my PhD thesis was awarded the Best doctoral thesis in biological sciences for 2010. That was when I finished a PhD, the awarding institution was University of Port Harcourt because I had to register there just to visit University of Pretoria and come back and then complete and be awarded a degree, a PhD degree in the University of Port Harcourt. So that singular exposure made the work global, made the research very, very enhanced, that really touched on global issues like pollution because my work centered on the remediation, cleanup of polluted sites in the Niger Delta, how do we use nature based solutions? How do we use natural methods to ensure that we don’t add more pollution as you’re trying to clean up the oil crude. So that has been the story behind my success. So in between, I’ve had children. I’m proudly a mother of four amazing kids. So it hasn’t been easy managing family, pregnancies, suckling infants, traveling to present at conferences. Yes, my husband is very supportive. But there’s a saying that the mother’s job is never done. You need to breastfeed the baby, to change the diaper to do a lot of things, to go for immunization. So I had to grapple and equally balance all these while chasing my dreams, not just becoming a nominal scientist, I wanted to be a scientist from Africa, from Nigeria, a woman that has a global reputation. And that was just my focus. And despite the challenges I had, while having kids, I even lost two pregnancies. I’ve been pregnant six times I lost two as a result of so many medical issues. I underwent four caesarean section. So in between the caesarean section sometimes I pick myself up and go for conference. For instance, when I had a fourth baby. I had him in the US that was in 2018. I was in the US. I had him in April 2018. And I had a conference before I left Nigeria, I knew I was going to be in the US for three months after having the baby. And I told myself I can’t just sit put in a place for three months only breastfeeding a baby. What do I gain from this long stay? I discovered that I would have American Society for Microbiology International Conference, the 118th conference, the same period I’ll be nursing my baby, that will be seven weeks postpartum. Joy, I picked up my baby, my husband said I was insane. My aunts that had not seen me said I was crazy. I picked up my baby,flew to Atlanta, had my conference with my baby, you’ll see that in my, in the script I wrote I’ve sent to you. I had my conference, and I won Best poster presenter award. So joy, if I hadn’t gone, that wouldn’t be my CV, that wouldn’t make my university prestigious, that wouldn’t have made me visible. I always know that that even in that ugly, challenging situation, as a mum, there’s something good that I can make out of it for myself. So that has been my driving force. Thank you,

Joy Owango:

Do you think it’s a part of adrenaline rush, because you see, you’re very focused on being a phenomenal researcher and you’ve actually achieved that. And you’re also very clear that you wanted to be a mother, and you’ve achieved that. Do you feel in order to achieve some of these goals, you partly were on an adrenaline rush to meet the objectives of your goals? Because when I really critically look at what you’re doing, you’re working in the Niger Delta, anybody who is in Africa is familiar with how tethy that region is and your research is on petroleum and the environmental rrestoration that needs to be done as a result of petroleum being drilled in that region and the degradation it has on the environment, the conflicts that the community has with the petroleum companies, and also with the universities. All this, what I’m saying is the underlying tone is an adrenaline rush because on order to work in any kind of difficult situation, you need to have a certain level of being level headed and being focused. Despite any challenge, you’re still able to achieve your objective. Do feel that you have an adrenaline rush?

Prof. Chioma Chikere:

Yes, I do have my adrenaline rush is over and above. Because when I say the problem, it looks insurmountable. I sit down, I pray to my God that this is doable, because people that are achieving all these notable accomplishments, they do not have two heads am a mother. And you know, when it comes to motherhood, and African woman, she’s always seen as vulnerable. She’s too emotional, she cannot take decisions on her own. She has conflicting interests. Most times she has hormonal issues. She’s feeling good now the next minute she’s off. I tried to kind of remove all those biases and let people know that I am a different woman. And that the African woman has so many potentials in, give her the enabling environment she blows and she flourishes. So the adrenaline rush in me is that I already have a stereotypical society that has placed so many so many, so many, you know, limitations on me that I wouldn’t be able to survive this, I wouldn’t be able to thrive in this condition. So when I see such, I tell myself this is the time to show up and show off and I do attend many leadership programs. I’m an alumni of HER-SA in South Africa that is Higher Education Resource Services South Africa, which is all about giving women a voice in African higher education space, women should lead. Women should be seen; they should be given a seat at the table. There’s a saying I think from a notable woman that if you’re not given a seat at the table, bring your folding seat, and then create a space for yourself. I just finished the HER-SA September leadership about evolving. Evolving as a leader in a tethy environment, just like you said in the Niger Delta. I was discouraged a time I did the Elsevier Foundation funded research that I had to go out to the field to reclaim a polluted farmland in the heart of the Niger Delta region, where you have all the pollution, where you have colossal biodiversity loss, habitat loss, ecosystem services loss as a result of oil pollution. I had difficulty. I was six months gone, pregnant with my fourth baby. I had opposition. I couldn’t get into the society. I had to engage citizen science. I had to do an indigenous people integration into my research because for me to wade through that difficult terrain, a coastal area that I needed to ferry myself across,I had a student who finished a master’s degree under me. And he’s from that community, and equally a youth leader in the community. We did preliminary studies from the site and he said, “Ma we need help in my place’’. And I asked myself how do I wade through here, you already know like you said, the place is tethy, the communities are not happy with the with the independent oil companies, they feel they should be compensated, the community people are equally fighting the government and the rest of them. So its a very, very volatile environment. So I talked to myself and said, but we must have this project done. The funds have been released. I’ve done my bit. I’ve written the proposal, I’ve gone to present my pitch in Berlin and I’ve been given the funding for research and have a timeline to deliver on the project. So, I got this guy from the community, and I looked at him because the funding I got from Elsevier is not for tuition but just to fund research, and I had to look for an opportunity of in a doctoral fellowship for the boy. So I went ahead and met my mentor, an organic chemist from polymer chemistry. I met him because Elsevier told me that for me to do the research, and really achieve all the set goals. I must work with an organic chemist because I needed to equally look at the chemistry and the other aspects of the research not domiciled in my field as a microbiologist so I needed experts in that area. So I worked with Prof, he was the assistant center leader of the World Bank’s, Africa Center of Excellence in Oilfield Chemicals Research (ACE-CEFOR). Which produces plug PhD graduates that will fill in the gaps in the oil industry and provide value added knowledge to mitigate the problems in the oil industry. I got doctoral fellowships for the students, and was able to meet with the community representatives, they said, ‘’Oh! Compensation is coming!”. I said no, it’s not compensation. We need to clean up the farmland so that you can reclaim your farmland so that you can plant your crops. They were so happy. And what did I do? citizen science. I had to involve them; I employed their youths to be part of the project. They were tilling and adding the fertilizers we worked with, the youth representative, my student had doctoral fellowship, so I told them I was going to empower your son, he’s going to get his terminal degree from here. And one of the community chiefs that had meetings with me in University of Port Harcourt, had a boat hire in a business. I had to hire his boats to take us and our equipment to sites, and that was how I got everybody involved. And the project the Elsevier Foundation project gave me another leverage in science. Because I was global. We had to present at international conferences, we had to publish in High Impact Factor journals, and like a week after having a baby, I had to present the final reports from the US to the conference in Berlin in 2018, and I did all that pregnant, having the fourth baby, the fourth caesarean section, and the project was conclusively successful, and been able to reclaim the land biodiversity recovery, ecosystem services recovered and restored, the student now has his PhD and is advancing, we have all our publications from there. Elsevier has projected our research trajectories and our universities’s prestige as well greatly enhanced. I’ve granted interviews to Sense about Science, an NGO about risk assessment in communities, and featured in their forum during the euroscience conference in Netherlands and in their top 100 global risk practitioners from the global south. All these have really enhanced my career and my trajectory. I’m still a mom, like I told you, my husband has been supportive. When I’m going away, I still have other kids, my mom has been my pillar. She retired as a director of nursing, she had an opportunity of going back to serve on a contract basis, but she chose to help me to advance my career. She would come around, stay with the kids, while I moved over to maybe any country on research visit or presenting my papers, so I knew that I just had no other option other than to deliver top notch quality of my science, so that I would make my parents proud. Then my mother would know that she’s not sacrificing all that in vain, my husband will know that I’m not leaving the family in vain, that it is something for everyone, for the children, I’m a role model to my girls. I have three girls, and a little boy, four-year-old. My girls, they are always wowed. My first child, she stated, she just thought that the stakes are so high, she says mom, I’m going to be a scientist, you motivate me, you inspire me. So, Joy, there’s a lot we need to do for the African girl child and for the women. Actually, the scientists, thank you.

Joy Owango:

Oh, wow. When listening to your story, the only thing going through my mind is okay for your children, no pressure, and I’m saying no pressure in quotes, because you see, you’ve put the stakes so high that children have to.., you know, and it wasn’t you who actually put the stakes so high. It is your parents who put the stakes so high, and they gave you the opportunity and you took it and you’re doing the same on the children by making them see that some of these opportunities are possible, you can be a mother, you can achieve whatever can be and that is that is very important. And I’m really excited to hear what you did with the Elsevier Foundation award that you got on chemistry for climate action change. I need to know as you’re helping rehabilitate the community and the environment in the community in the Niger Delta, what kind of relationships were you able to build? Because I can see that you are able to build a relationship with the community, what was the relationship with the petroleum companies? Because you know, they are to blame for the degradation in that in that area? Were they involved in that process? Were you able to create a situation whereby both parties, were able to get involved in the rehabilitation of the community because you came in to provide support from an academic perspective, you also came in to provide support from a communal perspective. What was the contribution from the petroleum companies in this? Did they recognize this development? Because it will lead to my next question of what challenges you face, especially in the in the research you’re doing in, in petroleum, and Environmental Sciences. So were they involved in your research?


Prof. Chioma Chikere:

The Elsevier Foundation research grant came from the chemistry for climate action challenge. So as at the time I applied for that, I wrote the proposal, I hadn’t any synergy with any oil company, or the oil industry in Nigeria. It was purely an academic exercise, where I was trying to scale up my research from the lab, scale to the pilot scale, and then field scale, where we had looked at the parameters, we’ll be able to fine tune some environmental factors. We could say that we had enough to try out what our remedial option had to offer out there in the open. So as I was doing it, I had no synergy with anybody; with any company, with any government, with any regulatory agency, but our work is highly publicized especially because the ACE-CEFOR center is directly linked with the oil industry, because they are just supplying the manpower that will fit into the oil and gas industry, where you equally have yes, they are sponsored by World Bank. So the information about this project has been widely shared. I’m sure they must have not I’ve not received any feedback from anyone, but the students have graduated and they graduated on a very resounding note. They had other awards as a result of the exposure the Elsevier Foundation project gave everyone the researchers, the students and equality the centre, so we didn’t get any help any assistance, we had no synergy with anyone, we were just out to do community service, citizen science, and equally carry the people along…and also we engaged in open science because our data generated from the research are openly available in their repositories that open access, open data and open science compliant. Thank you


Joy Owango:

Do you see because, what you’ve done is you’ve actually created a foundation for such kind of activities to be done involving the community in not only in the rehabilitation of the environment, but also involving the community in it through academic support and academic service, and as you said, citizen science. Do you see with time that the petroleum industry and also maybe the government would also be interested in some of the activities you have so that it can be large scale?

Prof. Chioma Chikere:

Yes, I believe that strongly because I still have another student in ACE-CEFOR centre who is graduating with equally developed natural based methods and solutions to look at oil spill remediation. We feel that the more we do this, the more we publicize our research articles. Yes, the news will be out there and we’ll start getting feedback. So I guess any moment from now, soon, the government will have a buy-in and equally, the oil industry, we are hopeful about that because we are not relented in sharing the information, involving in in activities that will equally showcase what we are doing in the university. And let me mention here with a recent appointment I have from International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) based in the Netherlands. I’ve been invited as a country ambassador to a conference in Abuja. I wish I could just get that now… and the conference is all about mainstreaming science and technology into the African higher education space. How do we get noticed? How do we get that recognition? How do we how do we join the bandwagon with regards to, global mandates, global initiatives, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, so I am going there to showcase what we are doing and that is going to take place in the in the capital city, Abuja. That’s another opportunity for us to disseminate because if you don’t show up, nobody will know you exist. Here’s an opportunity for me to show what I’m doing and I’m attending that conference with my PhD student who has worked with me for the past four years at the ACE-CEFOR. In ACE-CEFOR, she’s been able to develop a protocol for us to use natural agricultural waste to recover our polluted soils such that we don’t have fertilizers causing soil hardening, causing secondary contamination. We have a rich agrarian heritage, some of these are waste agricultural waste, plant waste, that we can condition to compost and use them to clean up the oil hydrocarbons in the soil. So,we have an opportunity, to present at a Pan African science conference and that conference is organized in partnership with the Princeton University in the USA. So, we need to speak up, we need to speak up because if we don’t say it, nobody will know that we are doing something. So that’s where we are coming from right now.

Joy Owango:

Fantastic. So I can see your trajectory is positive, and it’s going up, obviously. So, tell me or share with us, what have been your challenges not only in your academic life, but also balancing personal life and the academic life? What are your challenges? What have been the challenges you face? Let’s start with the academic life knowing very well the area of research you’re doing is very tethy. Let’s start with that.


Prof. Chioma Chikere:

Yes. Thank you so much joy. It hasn’t been easy. I just have to be frank about that because how I do it a lot of people feel like… Last week, I was with center leader of the African Center of Excellence for Oilfield Chemicals Research to submit the research outputs as scholarly publications from the PhD student, we are currently supervising who is about finishing up and defending her thesis. So as I submitted that with the data we have, I think we are the first researchers to produce data notes from our research, deposited in publicly available repository. So I had to.. the data note was just accepted by F1000 research as an open access publication channel by Taylor & Francis group. So I had to go to the vice chancellor to submit the research outputs from that supervision of the PhD student with my team. So I submitted that report to the vice chancellor, to the DVC deputy vice chancellor – Research and Development in my university and I went to the center leader in the ACE program. He asked me 3 times, “Chioma, do you cook for your husband and children?” I said, “Prof., I don’t understand what you’re asking.”

Joy Owango:

No, he did not.

Prof. Chioma Chikere:

He said, “Chioma, because I hardly see anything limit you. You have children and your kids are between 4 and 13. They are still very, very dependent and you are top notch, spot on in your delivery. I ask do you have time to do any other thing? Save? Reset? Save? Publication?” I said, “Prof., I cook. I’m a mom. I go to the open market, flea market. I have my issues as well.” So one thing about me is that I have a mother, a proactive mother, maybe her profession also helped to shape me. We live proactively in my home. My mom is the kind of person that you have an event in two days time you start preparing and planning for it two weeks ahead of time before that time, yes. So you live ready, because she will tell you, ‘You have kids that can fall ill. You have kids that can start having issues. So if you don’t plan yourself, and you allow issues to pile up, so when you have such emergencies, you will crash you won’t be able to cope.’ So I live ready, just like you told me about this podcast interview. I had another interview that came up yesterday. In fact, I told them, ‘Sorry, I’m not going to grant that interview because I’m already preparing for this.’ So I have my challenges like when I took ill, that was five weeks ago. I was in the hospital, it wasn’t planned and my second child was preparing for boarding house. Joy, It was so hard. So what did I do? I had a theater procedure but immediately I was discharged from the hospital. I had to pick up my son. I was feeling dizzy, not fully recovered. I had to go to buy the things, shop for my daughter to go back to school. Monogram her school supplies for her to go back to school. So I know I’m a very resilient person. If I’m hit, I can still move with my pain because I look at the end of the tape. I look at the end of the talk.

After a deep surgery, caesarean section, I tell myself if I don’t move, nobody will do it for me. I endure my pain, I move. I still have my moments that maybe I’ve made mistakes as I’m trying to put up a proposal because my kids are there demanding my attention. I’m doing homeworks, because I was trying to meet up with deadlines. I make some mistakes and at the end of the day, I may not be successful. I cry and I learned my lessons from that. So I live proactively. I have had my challenges, I’ve been on admission with kids. So when I say that I may not be able to bear it, to overcome the challenge, I have mentees.  Like I said when we rise we lift others. If I can go, I will use my personal money, I can borrow from the banks and I sponsor my students to represent me. It’s just my name that I need to be there on the publication, on the presentation slides. I may not need to be there physically. So if I have my mentees flying the flag on behalf of my research group, I am still there. I’m still represented. So when it becomes obvious that I may not be there physically, for instance, this one that I should be attending in Abuja, in December, from my national assignment by ISME, I may or may not be ready because my husband is going for COP15, maybe. So he said there’s a problem that he may be going for COP15. I said wow that means that… and the COP15 thing falls within the same period I should be in Abuja. I’ve already started planning, should it happen that he travels, I won’t be awaY when my husband will be away, who will be with the children? So I will prepare my PhD mentee, she will go there and represent me. What they’ll need to see is my name is on the slide. I am the person leading this research. So if you are not going, you have to be prolific as well. You have to be proactive, and you must be productive. So where I do not get… like now I may not have funds. I may not have research grants, I have partnerships. I have collaborators. I have active, purposeful, beneficial collaborations. So as I go for my conferences, I engage with people. I have very active, branded social media presence. I’m always sharing things about my research, and getting people to (overlapping speech)

Exactly. So I’ll always engage. At every point in time I’m building people I’m equally building myself. As we speak, I have four manuscripts. I won’t just sit down and be doing the manuscripts, be cooking, be looking after the children. I will crash. So I prepare my undergraduate student that just graduated from first degree microbiology. I started teaching him how to do publication, how to go about the review process, submission. He is learning and the work is moving. I mustn’t be there doing it with my hands. So I have these challenges now. I am cramped with leadership. I’m a director, I have so many capacities that I’m occupying. So I need to deliver on this. So I delegate. I train people. I give my students, my mentees the platform – MSc, BSc, PhD. I give them the platform to showcase themselves. What I just need is my name to be there on the research outputs, and that’s how I wade through. And then family too. As a married woman, I had my issues. I’m from the parts of Nigeria, the South East where the man wears his trousers and decides when you move away or you don’t move. I’ve had so many opportunities. Some people will come and tell my husband, “She’s moved she’s too global, she is globe-trotting a lot. You need to limit her movement.” So when I see such comment you know, I use wisdom. Just like this COP15 thing. And he said this is your first national assignment. I said I wouldn’t want to interfere with your own job. Because it’s the job that pays the bills.

Joy Owango:

No, but it’s also about balance.

Prof. Chioma Chikere:

Yes, that is it. So I looked at it. I said yes, I’ve had so many exposures. I went to Copenhagen in May for Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) in Europe. I did my presentation, he had to take a leave, he was with the kids. And I said maybe this is the time for me to sacrifice, you know, for us to balance it. So that’s how I do it. I always look at sacrifice, I always look at being proactive, planning, and then delegation and task collaboration, where I can’t do it, I can link up my collaborators, and they will help me to carry out the task.

Joy Owango:

Well, this has been amazing. It’s been amazing. You literally ended the podcast on a high note, even though you’re telling you’re sharing this for the challenges, you’ve also shared with us how you’re able to mitigate it. And it’s also good to recognize that, yes, there are always things underlying tones that you get from your peers when they see that you’re constantly at work and they know you have a family. They question whether you are able to balance both, but at the same time, I like how you looked at some of your personal challenges and how you’ve managed them in applying in work because the kind of research you’re doing on the rehabilitation of the environment that has been degraded through oil pollution is very tethy, especially in the region you’re in. It’s very tethy, but you’ve somehow managed to bring various communities together and successfully provided academic support, provide Good Citizen Science, and because of that you have a flourishing and active community that is involved in the rehabilitation of the environment in the Niger Delta.

Professor Chioma, Thank you so much. I really appreciated the time you made to take part in this podcast. You’re a beacon to so many young women scientists, I like the way you’ve shown that it is possible. It is possible to balance it is not necessarily easy, but it is possible to balance family and career. And at the same time. It’s also about focus. And as women as we are getting more and more women scientists involved in STEM, these are some of the things that we need to also think of, most of them will be thinking, how will I be able to balance being a mother and being a scientist, you’ve actually shown that it is possible. Family, friends, you know, it takes a village to take care of a family. So you’ve worked actively with your village to make sure that your family is taken care of, you’re able to take care of the family and also, you work very hard to be where you are in your career.

With that, Professor Chioma, do you have a lovely day and I truly thank you for having made it to our podcast. Thank you so much.

Prof. Chioma Chikere:

Thank you so much. It is an honor. I’m humbled and equally privileged to be featured in your podcast. Thank you so much. Thank you TCC Africa, you’re doing quite well and a great job for science and women too, in the African higher education space. Thank you so much.


Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Mazungumzo podcast. Be sure to subscribe and follow us on all our channels. For more updates and for candid stories by researchers, policymakers, higher education leaders, and innovators on their journeys. See you in our next episode.

Listen to the full episode and explore more episodes from the #Mazungumzo podcast on the following platforms:

Spotify (Available Globally):

Apple Podcasts (Globally):

Anchor (Available Globally):—african-scholarly-conversations

Afripods (Available in Africa):           

Pandora (Available in Europe & United States):

Stitcher (Available Globally):

TCC Africa-Training Centre in Communication News Room (Available Globally):

#Sciencecommunication #researchvisibility


Sign Up for the Latest Updates


The Training Centre in Communication (TCC Africa) is the first award-winning African-based training centre to teach effective communication skills to scientists.


University of Nairobi, School of Biological Sciences, Chiromo Campus, Gecaga Institute Building.

+254 020 808 6820
+254 020 2697401
+254 733 792316

Skip to content