Dr. Eucharia Oluchi Nwaichi, a biochemist based at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria, has been honoured with the 2022 John Maddox Prize for her dedicated efforts in engaging conflicted communities to address pollution challenges in the Niger Delta’s oil fields.
Recognized for presenting compelling evidence and innovative methods for soil recovery, Dr. Nwaichi was lauded by the judges for her courage in advancing public discourse through scientifically sound approaches, even in the face of personal risks.
Dr. Nwaichi expressed her gratitude, stating, “Receiving the John Maddox Prize from such esteemed institutions is a profound honour, accompanied by a profound feeling that is challenging to articulate. When my husband received the news, he remarked that those who failed to recognize my societal contributions inadvertently directed me to the right people. This award empowers scientists like me to confront obstacles, ensuring that credible evidence informs policies for sustainable development.”
The Niger Delta, as West Africa’s primary oil-producing region, grapples with extensive contamination. Urgent research on effective soil cleanup methods, particularly phytoremediation, is imperative. Dr. Nwaichi successfully persuaded local communities and oil companies to collaborate, navigating the intense conflicts between them.
Through her constructive scientific approach, Dr. Nwaichi resolved a dispute between local communities and an oil company concerning the impact of liquid waste on fish stocks in Rivers State. Her efforts defused a potentially violent conflict. Despite personal threats from a different oil company, whose representatives confiscated her data and objected to a woman leading the research, Dr. Nwaichi remains committed to finding solutions to oil pollution. She and her team are currently developing slow-release nutrients to counter soil exhaustion.
The John Maddox Prize, a collaborative initiative between the charity Sense About Science and the scientific journal Nature, continues to attract global nominations from individuals across various disciplines. These individuals are recognized for their essential work in championing sound science in the public interest, especially in the face of adversity and opposition. This year, 55 nominations were received globally.
The prize is administered and funded by Sense About Science, where Sir John Maddox was a founding trustee, and Nature, where he served as editor for over two decades, with support from Clare and Andrew Lyddon.
Kindly like, share and leave your comments.