It is no news that the Nigerian space researcher, Andrew Akala, won the 2019 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Space Science at the AGU Fall Meeting Honours Ceremony, in San Francisco, California, on 11 December 2019, nor the fact the award celebrates the ingenuity of an early career African scientist in honour of their notable contributions to research in space science, however, this article torchlights, for knowledge purpose, the persona behind the award for the past year.
To be awarded this prestigious prize, candidates are required to tick certain boxes with regards to showcasing the talent and drive needed to transcend in long careers in space science and their applications for communal benefits, which is the definition that most certainly describes the award recipient for the year 2019.
Dr Andrew Oke-‘Ovie Akala, is a lecturer at the Department of Physics, University of Lagos, Deputy Director, APD, Distance Learning Institute (DLI), and a member of the University Senate. He is also an associate professor of space science at the same university, a position he was appointed to this year.
Dr Akala has participated in different scholarly programmes, including Fulbright program at Boston College and the Regular Associate Scheme of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Italy.
For his undergraduate’s studies, Dr Akala bagged a Bachelors Degree in Electronics, and on the recommendation of his postgraduate adviser, the late Jibayo Akinrimisi, ventured into space science. In 2009, he obtained a PhD in ionospheric physics and radio propagation at the University of Lagos with a research focus on ionospheric irregularities and radio scintillation, and their connections to aviation safety.
Career and Research Contributions
Dr Akala is not just a researcher but a seasoned leader with admirable leadership style and qualities, who many look up to for mentorship. As a leader in his department, Dr Akala has made efforts to introduce new study areas and advance the study of space science. He has also coordinated efforts leading to the establishment of institutions that are dedicated to understanding space weather effects for improving aviation and safety of navigation. He championed the establishment of the Nigerian Institute of Navigation about six years ago and currently serves as the president of the institute. He is also the General Secretary of the African Geophysical Society.
Dr Akala is passionate about the promotion of space science on the continent; his numerous outreach programmes are targeted at this. He is renowned for initiating the proposal for Nigeria to serve as the host for the 2019 meeting of the International Symposium on Equatorial Aeronomy (ISEA), base on the premise that the event will serve as a platform to intimate young Africa scholars on current global research efforts.
As a research scholar, Dr Akala has written and co-authored works in different areas of space published in several scientific journals, particularly with regards to the impacts on Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers intended for aviation applications, low-latitude scintillation morphology, occurrence statistics, etcetera.
As the recipient of the award, Dr Akala benefits includes USD 1,000 monetary prize, recognitions in Eos and invitation the AGU Fall Meeting, a three-year membership to AGU, an engraved award, including eligibility for travel support and meeting registration for AGU Fall Meeting through the Lloyd V. Berkner Travel Fellowship Fund, and two complimentary tickets to the Honors Banquet at AGU’s Fall Meeting.
About Africa Award for Research Excellence In Space Science
Established in 2015 by the generosity of Sunanda Basu, the African Award for Research Excellence In Space Science award supports diversity in the Earth and space science community by recognising excellence in research by African scientists and expanding opportunities for international collaboration on the African continent.
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