Grace Idowu brings laboratory and two dimensional gas chromatography experience to the Chemistry Matters team.
Grace was born and raised in the southwestern part of Nigeria. The foundation of her career has been in academia, offering platforms for knowledge building and honing her technical skills. She is currently transitioning into more practical roles of applying the skills and knowledge to solving real issues affecting our environment and social life.
”Growing up in Nigeria made me aware of the benefits of hydrocarbon exploration as our economy depends heavily on the Oil and Gas sector, as well as the environmental issues that arise from the exploratory and productive processes.”
Her specialties are in method development and validation, gas chromatography (GC), comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC), mass spectrometry (MS). As a Laboratory and Quality Assurance Manager at COGRAD, an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, she gained the knowledge and maintenance of an ISO 17025 quality system management.
Making the decision to pursue chemistry
As for most individuals, Grace did not initially plan to study Chemistry, although it was her second choice of course. She came to recognize the diverse opportunities associated with studying Chemistry early on in her first year and decided to follow the path. The decision to focus on environmental science started in the penultimate year and she has not looked back.
Grace has a bachelor’s degree in Pure and Applied Chemistry from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Nigeria. She went on to pursue a Master’s of Science degree in Environmental and Petroleum Geochemistry from Newcastle University, United Kingdom where she understood how to employ geochemical parameters for hydrocarbon prospectivity and the effect of exploration of Oil and Gas in our environment. She continued in the field of environmental research in her Ph.D., under the supervision of Prof. Gregg Tomy at the Centre for Oil and Gas Research and Development (COGRAD) at the University of Manitoba, Canada where she travelled for conferences to present my research and build her network in the scientific community. She continued in the same laboratory for her Postdoctoral Associate position.
Every opportunity she got to work or learn in environmental related research has been a highlight. She served as an Intern at Nigeria’s stated-owned oil firm (NNPC- Nigerian National Petroleum corporation) where she worked in the Water and Special Chemical (WASC), Spectroscopy and Elemental Analysis (SEAL) and Petroleum Product and Quality Testing (PPQT) laboratories. This was her launch into environmental/ chemical analysis. Grace’s undergraduate thesis titled ‘Petroleum Potential of Agwu Shale, Middle Benue Trough, Nigeria’ spurred her interest in interpreting geochemical parameters to determine hydrocarbon prospectivity and hence the choice to pursue a Master’s degree in Environmental and Petroleum Geochemistry, at Newcastle University, UK. While studying in the UK, her research focused on ‘Conventional and Unconventional Hydrocarbon Prospectivity of Offshore Northumberland Basin, UK’. At the University of Manitoba, she published and defended a doctoral thesis on ‘Method Development and Validation for Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds in Environmental Samples’. In addition, she had other publications to her credit and authored and co-authored a total of 11 articles so far. Winning several scholarships at the University and awards at conference have all been highlights of Grace’s career so far.
Why Chemistry Matters?
My interests in geochemical/environmental analysis and fingerprinting studies made Chemistry Matters Inc an easy choice when the opportunity came. Meeting Dr. Court Sandau through my Ph.D. supervisor opened the door to know what CMI is about. CMI is involved in projects that I believe will broaden my knowledge in diverse areas while contributing to science towards the goal of becoming an expert witness/subject matter expert.
Life Outside Work
Grace contributes the best she can in helping people to develop themselves through volunteering and donations. She loves spending time at home with family and friends as well as travelling. In fact, she loves to collect travel souvenirs!
What would be your advice to students starting in University looking to pursue a career like yours?
Based on what I have learned in the recent years, it is important to network with people that are in the career path of choice. The social media space (LinkedIn) and conference attendance will help immensely to achieve this. Be sure of what interests you especially in what you define as career fulfilling either for the short or the long term. Be focused and work towards it because there may be some distractions along the way.
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