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Six students from different universities in Nigeria have emerged winners of the 2020 Microbiology Essay Competition organised by R-Bridge, which is an Initiative for the Advancement of Innovation, Educational Development, and Youth Empowerment (IAIEDYE). The students include three undergraduates and three Post-Graduate students respectively.

Managing Partner, R-Bridge and organiser of the competition, Dr. Yinka Somorin said the competition titled “How can Microbiology improve lives and livelihood in Nigeria?” was an opportunity for microbiology students to share their ideas on practical ways the course can contribute to improving health and income-generating opportunities for Nigerians.

He said the initiative was conceived to motivate students, promote microbiology as a profession in Nigeria and stimulate public interest.
Somorin, a microbiology researcher and society champion of the Microbiology Society (UK), led Richard Omole, a microbiology researcher at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, and Dr. Tosin Somorin from the University of Strathclyde, UK to organise the event

He noted that the essay submissions for the competition were received between July 1 and August 11, 2020, with 217 eligible entries from 64 universities across the six geopolitical zones.

He added that a panel of 25 academics, researchers, and science communicators drawn from Nigeria, South Africa, United Kingdom, Portugal, Canada, and Australia assessed entries based on originality, clarity, relevance, and practicability of proposed ideas within the Nigerian context.

Somorin said some of the solutions proffered by the students included the starter culture and standardisation of traditional fermented food production; development of green technologies for the management of pests, and weeds to increase crop yield.

Others include management of waste and other environmental pollutants that could be converted to useful products, especially for the production of energy, which is a major burden in Nigeria. The development of biotechnological techniques to improve the production of better and safer food under controlled conditions; and the development of rapid diagnostics, vaccines, and drugs for disease management.

In the undergraduate category, Isaac Ajayi, a 400 level Microbiology student of Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, won the first prize, Favour Olaiya, 400 level OAU student emerged second while the third prize went to Rahama Muhammad, a 300 level student of the University of Ilorin.

“In the postgraduate category, Victory Nnaemeka, of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka emerged winner, Lotachukwu Enukora of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Kaduna, emerged first runner up while Oluwatosin Orababa of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) was awarded the third prize.”

Somorin explained that in both categories, the first prize won a certificate, Tablet, one-year membership subscription of Microbiology Society (UK), and career mentorship by a microbiologist in the diaspora.

Second prize won a certificate, a one-year membership subscription of Microbiology Society (UK), and career mentorship by a microbiologist in the diaspora; while the third prize was certificate, a one-year membership subscription of the Nigerian Society for Microbiology, and career mentorship by a microbiology researcher in the diaspora.

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