FUTA Don wins international grants for COVID-19 research

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Another giant stride has been recorded by the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) through one of its senior academics, Dr Gideon Idowu of the Department of Chemistry who has won two international grants for research projects seeking to investigate the ecological impact of COVID-19 prevention strategies: fate and impact of medical face masks on soil ecosystem.

The awards are from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), United Kingdom and the Natural Environment Research Council-British Ecological Society (NERC-BES), United Kingdom.

The funds are to cover the costs of equipment, consumables, logistics and literature for the projects.

The Programme Manager, Grants, Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), Mr Yuandi Li who conveyed the letter of his society to Dr Idowu wrote “following assessment by our reviewers, I am pleased to inform you that your application has been successful.”

Similarly, Grants and Events Officer, British Ecological Society (BES), Siri McDonnell on behalf of the society wrote, “An excellent and timely project with international implications. The project is extremely timely, in terms of both the pandemic situation and microplastics pollution. This project should contribute to a broader understanding of the impacts of face masks on the soil ecosystem.

“During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital to have an understanding of such impacts as this will contribute to the development of strategies for dealing with vast numbers of disposable face masks and how they should be disposed of safely.”

According to McDonnell, Dr Idowu with the grant also receives 12 months free BES membership with all its benefits.

Congratulating Dr Idowu, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape described the grants won as a plus to FUTA and also confirms it as a leading university of technology in Nigeria with bias for cutting edge societally relevant research.

He commended him and several others who have won in the past for not relenting in making the university relevant globally in spite of the challenges the education sector is facing in the country.

He expressed optimism that the fight against COVID-19 will soon be won and urged Nigerians to always take to the preventive cautions against its spread.

According to Idowu, the Research seeks to understand the environmental impacts of medical face masks, which are now widespread in the environment.

“These masks are meant primarily for health care workers, for protection against occupational hazards. However, following the outbreak of corona virus (COVID-19) and the recommendation of face masks use for the generality of population, there has been an unprecedented global rise in their production by over 700-folds.

“While their use may have proved effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19, the possible ecological consequences have been largely overlooked.

This proposed research would form part of initial scientific investigations into this issue, particularly as it affects the soil ecosystem under our prevailing tropical conditions.” Idowu said.

Dr Gideon Idowu bagged his Bachelor’s degree with First Class Honours in Industrial Chemistry from Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) Nigeria, where he emerged the Overall Best Graduating Student and delivered the convocation address of the University in 2008.

He also received five university’s awards for academic excellence at graduation.

Gideon obtained an MSc degree in Analytical Chemistry from FUTA, before proceeding to the UK to obtain MSc and PhD degrees from University of Strathclyde and University of Warwick, respectively, in 2012 and 2017.

He is currently a Lecturer in the department of Chemistry at FUTA, where his research focuses on the environmental chemistry of legacy and emerging contaminants.

He is a recipient of a number of International Scholarships and Awards, including the British Government’s Commonwealth Scholarship and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Academic Prizes. (The News)

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