Florida A&M University (FAMU) mechanical engineering doctoral candidate Renee Gordon and biochemistry professor Ngozi Ugochukwu, Ph.D., have been named Fulbright Scholars.
The prestigious Fulbright Scholars Program is a highly competitive international education exchange program that awards grants to students, faculty or professionals who wish to study, teach and conduct research abroad. Both Gordon and Ugochukwu will conduct respective research on the indigenous resources of Nigeria.
Engineering Student Takes Green Ambitions to Nigeria
Gordon is the first student in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering to receive the Fulbright grant. Her research will focus on using biomass, specifically Nigeria’s cassava leaves, as a green alternative to case hardening steel. She will reside at Nigeria’s Federal University of Technology (FUT) in Akure, which partners with FAMU in a mutual teaching and research exchange program.
According to Gordon, receiving the Fulbright grant brings her closer to fulfilling her desire to do something “forward thinking and innovative” with the indigenous resources of Nigeria. Her goal upon completing her Ph.D. is to work in green engineering with a focus on sustainable and alternative energy and to eventually return to FAMU as a professor to share her knowledge and experiences with others.
“It’s about using sustainable materials and resources that don’t take away from our fossil fuels and using materials that can be regenerated and regrown,” said Gordon about the focus of her research, which picks up where her mentor and research supervisor Peter Kalu, Ph.D. left off.
Kalu, a 3M Distinguished Research Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and 2009-2010 Fulbright Scholar, also conducted research on how Nigeria’s cassava leaves could be used as an alternative method for hardening metal. His research was essential to the establishment of FAMU’s exchange program with FUT.
“We’re making headway there and she’s going to really take the research further,” said Kalu, expressing confidence in his protégé’s potential.
Gordon is a first generation American citizen by way of Jamaica, and first generation college graduate. She said receiving the Fulbright grant is a milestone in the progress of her research after having to overcome several obstacles in order to continue her work.