Soapbox Science Sets the Pace for Women in STEMM

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Chiamaka Ozulumba

An international science outreach for women was held for the first time in Nigeria on November 23, 2019 at the Adeniran Ogunsanya Mall, Lagos, and it had 10 leading Nigerian female researchers in different fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) in attendance.

The event, Soapbox Science, which offers women scientists the opportunity to showcase their research and engage with the public, reached over 300 members of the public, who were able to engage with the speakers, learning about different STEMM topics and receiving answers to their questions.

An attendee said “It gives women a platform to communicate their works”another said “it is very informative and educative”, while others commented on the semi-formal setting which they said boosted engagement with the public.

Soapbox Science was co-founded by Dr Seirian Sumner and Dr Nathalie Pettorelli, both research biologists in the United Kingdom.

The Lagos November event had three sessions each with four speakers. The talks ran simultaneously, providing the public with a choice of topics.

The Female STEMM researchers and their talk titles at the event included: Ms Amarachukwu Vivian Arazu, University of Nigeria, who spoke on “Bioplastics and the environment”; Dr Sylvia Onyinyechi Anyadoh-Nwadike, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, spoke on “Are you afraid of Microorganisms?” while Mrs Akinlabi Olabisi Comfort, University of Ibadan, spoke on “Diarrhoea; a threat to infant life”.

Dr Oluwatoyin Adebola Adeleye, Hadassah Scientific Supplies, Lagos, spoke on “Try to imagine having your prescribed drug modified to suit your genome”; Prof Ifeoma Maureen Ezeonu, University of Nigeria, spoke on “Bacteria: Friend, Foe or Both?”, while Dr Olukemi Titilope Olugbade, African Field Epidemiology Network, OAU Teaching Hospital, spoke on “Platforms of Expression: Science, Soapbox and Social Media in Disease Surveillance”.

Also, Dr Emuejevoke Toye, University of Lagos, spoke on “Early diagnosis of sickle cell anaemia can save lives” and Dr Simiat Olanike Elias, Lagos State University College of Medicine, spoke on Salt and Genes: The Mix to watch in Hypertension, while

Dr Yewande Ijose, Lagos State Health Service Commission, spoke on “The breast in radiology and the woman” and Dr Adebisi Adedayo Adebisi, Lagos State University College of Medicine, spoke on “Using medicinal plants to reduce the side effects of combined oral contraceptives”.

Since 2011, the global Soapbox Science events have featured over 1500 scientists and reached 150,000 members of the public, with 56 events planned for 2020.

The organising team for the Lagos November session expressed their gratitude to the volunteers, speakers and sponsors; School of Life Sciences University of Sussex UK, Adeniran Ogunsanya Mall, Maltina, STEMJets and OneAir Global Travel and Tours Ltd.

Dr O Aniejurengho, who led the team said “the event presents a unique opportunity to showcase the exciting research that Nigerian women do and inspire the younger generation about different career opportunities in STEMM.”