In 2017, Chioma Blaise Chikere was awarded the second prize of the Green Sustainable Chemistry Challenge. Her project “Eco-restoration of crude oil-polluted land in Nigeria” demonstrated how organic nutrients such as garden fertilizers and animal excreta can be used to degrade hydrocarbons, cleaning up the soils heavily contaminated by decades of oil spills. “This award will give me access to better research facilities and help empower local Nigerian women through eco-restauration and biodiversity recovery,” said Dr. Chikere receiving the prize.
The Niger Delta has been devastated by crude oil spills for decades and bioremediation of this land is a major priority for Nigeria, and her project proposed to add organic nutrients such as animal excreta to the soil, using the microorganisms’ own capacities to degrade hydrocarbons, to clean up contaminated soil.
Dr. Chikere’s area of specialization is environmental biotechnology and petroleum microbiology with focus on bioremediation. She is principal investigator in two research groups: one focusing on the use of molecular microbiology techniques to evaluate microbial population in bioremediation of oil-polluted environments; and the second exploring the therapeutic potentials of underutilized indigenous medicinal plants. Three years later, we caught up with Dr. Chikere to learn about her research journey.