Tallahassee, FL (PRWEB) July 30, 2014
Florida A&M University (FAMU) mechanical engineering doctoral candidate Renee Gordon and biochemistry professor Ngozi Ugochukwu, Ph.D., will head to Nigeria in August to conduct research as Fulbright Scholars. The prestigious Fulbright Scholars Program is a highly competitive international education exchange program that awards grants to students, faculty or professionals who wish to study, teach and conduct research abroad. Both Gordon and Ugochukwu will conduct respective research on the indigenous resources of Nigeria.
Gordon is the first student in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering to receive the Fulbright grant. Her research will focus on using biomass, specifically Nigeria’s cassava leaves, as a green alternative to case hardening steel. She will reside at Nigeria’s Federal University of Technology (FUT) in Akure, which partners with FAMU in a mutual teaching and research exchange program.
According to Gordon, receiving the Fulbright grant brings her closer to fulfilling her desire to do something “forward thinking and innovative” with the indigenous resources of Nigeria. Her goal upon completing her Ph.D. is to work in green engineering with a focus on sustainable and alternative energy and to eventually return to FAMU as a professor to share her knowledge and experiences with others.
“It’s about using sustainable materials and resources that don’t take away from our fossil fuels and using materials that can be regenerated and regrown,” said Gordon about the focus of her research, which picks up where her mentor and research supervisor Peter Kalu, Ph.D. left off.
Gordon is a first generation American citizen by way of Jamaica, and first generation college graduate. She said receiving the Fulbright grant is a milestone in the progress of her research after having to overcome several obstacles in order to continue her work.
Ugochukwu will also complete her research in Nigeria at FUT in Minna. Her research will focus on ethnopharmacology, the study of ethnic groups and their use of drugs. She will also conduct research on bioactive compounds and their role as leads for drug discovery, and uses for traditional medicine in diabetes therapy.
Ugochukwu has been researching diabetes since her tenure began at FAMU in 1998. Her expertise includes the use of biochemical and gene technology techniques in deciphering the underlying mechanisms in the pathophysiology of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, congestive heart failure and colon cancer. Her research focus also includes finding effective preventive strategies and therapies for these diseases.
“Diabetes is considered by the World Health Organization and International Diabetes Foundation as one of the major threats to human health in the 21st century,” said Ugochukwu. “The Fulbright grant will give me the opportunity to collaborate with researchers at the FUT Minna Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and the Global Institute for Bio-exploration to scientifically screen and identify anti-diabetic bioactive phytonutrients in indigenous Nigerian plants.”
According to Ugochukwu, this collaborative research could accelerate the discovery and development of new phytopharmaceuticals for diabetes therapy. In addition to her research, Ugochukwu will teach classes in biochemical pharmacology, clinical biochemistry and biochemistry laboratory including virtual proteomics exercises.
She attributes much of her success in research to the support of the FAMU research community, especially her students.
“I am elated about my selection as a Fulbright grantee,” Ugochukwu said. “It’s quite an honor to be recognized by this prestigious body. However, I must attribute this to the collaborative research work my graduate students and I have conducted on chronic diseases over the years at FAMU.”
About Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
Founded in 1887, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) is an 1890 land-grant and research institution offering more than 90 baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degree programs. FAMU is a member of the State University System of Florida and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The university serves nearly 11,000 students from more than 70 countries.