Abiodun Ilemobayo

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Impacts of oil pollution on forest ecosystems in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria
Peter Rennie Memorial Award
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

The tropical rainforest ecosystem, which has been adjudged the most diverse single ecological zone in the southern region of Nigeria, has witnessed a great disturbance due to anthropogenic activities. The present rate of deforestation and degradation of this ecosystem is now of global concern. As a result, the environmental, ecological, economic, and social consequences are very grave. Unfortunately, rural farmers are the most vulnerable in developing countries. This has strongly encouraged me to apply for graduate studies and focus my research interest on sustainable forest resources management, forest conservation, climate change awareness, adaptation strategies, and mitigation among rural communities.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

It is my desire to enhance my career goal of being among researchers that will contribute to sustainable development and the millennial development goals agenda in Africa. To achieve the goal, there is a need to further develop myself in a multifaceted world-class academic environment and this is why the University of British Columbia is my choice for graduate studies

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

The Faculty of Forestry at UBC provides a learning and research platform, formed by the combination of both experimental and theoretical approaches with well-equipped experimental and computational facilities.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

Making new friends and getting to see different places was really a big deal for me. I was able to explore different beaches with my friends during the summer. The biggest highlight for me was when I went on a road trip to the interior part of BC with my classmates in my first at UBC.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I enjoy working with my lab mates. working with them has been amazing so far! it has taught me the ability to interact effectively without hesitation and also, share knowledge and experiences. Most importantly, I have the best supervisor (Dr. Terry Sunderland). I feel privileged to have been supported and guided by him. His contribution is very commendable.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

While in school, I worked as a research intern at the Forest Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), whose mission is focused on reducing the fruiting or maturity age of the indigenous tropical hardwood tree species. I carried out both sexual and asexual propagation, which were very useful for propagating the most endangered hardwood species in Nigeria. At this institute, I was also exposed to working with teammates and develop better interpersonal skills. In 2016, towards the end of the second semester in my final year at the university, I led a group of students to donate tree seedlings to rural farmers and educate them about forestry. In collaboration with other students, we further encouraged them to involve rural women in forestry activities. Also, I was actively involved in tree planting and tagging, one of the major activities during the Northern Africa Regional Meeting, organized by the International Forestry Students Association in 2016, themed: The Role of Tropical Rainforest in Livelihood Improvement and Climate Change Mitigation. lastly, I was fully involved in rotational community development service groups under Charity, Health, Environmental, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and Anticorruption during my one-year compulsory National Youth Service at Ezeagu local government, Enugu State. We executed our duties at seven different communities successfully, and we were commended by each leader of the communities visited.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

Watching Netflix with my friends and cooking.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Remember to always stay positive. Graduate school is very lonely, so try your best to stay motivated and live in the moment


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