Francisca Oboh-Ikuenobe is geoscientist specializing in palynology and sedimentology as a means of reconstructing paleoecology and paleoclimate, and her career, marked by a number of distinguished awards and achievements, has taken her from the Cretaceous in Nigeria to the Eocene of the U.S. Gulf Coast to modern-day West Australia.
She earned her BSc in Geology at Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo) University in Nigeria, where she received the Federal Government of Nigeria Scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduate Students, and then went on to obtain her MSc in Applied Geology before becoming an assistant lecturer there.
In 1988, she left her home country to study for her PhD in Geology at Cambridge with a full scholarship from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. In her early career she worked as a Shipboard Sedimentologist on the high profile international Ocean Drilling Programme, which collected the deep sea sediment cores that are now central to our understanding of long term climate change. She joined the faculty at Missouri University of Science and Technology in 1991 and is now a Professor of Geology. Until recently, she served as the Program Head in Geology and Geophysics there (she’s now the Interim Chair of the Department of Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering).
As well as her academic achievements, she is regularly involved in education and outreach initiatives, and was Director for the Association for Women Geoscientists Foundation from 2005 to 2009. She also works very closely with her students, leading a research group comprised of undergraduates and graduate students whom she works with on a daily basis. When asked about her advice for students about to enter the geoscience field, Oboh-Ikuenobe requested that her students be cordial, seek out a mentor, make time for themselves, and ultimately: “Collaborate. Go outside your comfort zone occasionally and choose your collaborators carefully. Your chances of obtaining competitive research grants are higher and your research and publication productivity will increase, too.”
Written by Lisa-Marie Shillito
Make sure to check out the Wikipedia article created by Lisa-Marie along side this TrowelBlazers post!
Dr. Oboh-Ikuenobe kindly provided permission for the photo of her at the microscope.
Landscape image of the Life in Extreme Environments Team in West Australia used with permission from Kathleen Benison.