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The 2021 Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer research grant awarded to Dr. Gideon Idowu.

After a continent-wide search, with entries from 27 countries across Africa, award-winning Dr. Gideon Idowu from the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), Nigeria, is the 3rd recipient of the annual Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer (JWO) Research Grant of US$150,000. The grant was awarded to Dr. Idowu on the 5th of November at an event hosted by Oppenheimer Generations at Circa Gallery, Rosebank, Johannesburg.

The JWO Grant gives funding to enable researchers to provide evidence to inform decision-making regarding natural resource management. It encourages practical action to implement innovative solutions at local, regional, and national scale for the benefit of African communities.

Dr. Idowu’s research explores how, through poorly enforced environmental laws, Africa contributes significantly to global marine plastic pollution, as well as the contamination of its own freshwater bodies, upon which many rural populations depend for drinking water. The impacts of plastic pollution are huge, it exposes animals and humans to microplastics and plastic-derived endocrine-disrupting chemicals which can affect reproductive systems and metabolism. Idowu’s study intends to provide scientific evidence of the impacts of microplastics, to inform policy and attitudinal changes across the African continent.

Through his work, policymakers and communities will gain a better understanding of the effects of microplastics and chemical contaminants on people and the environment. Helping them to mitigate the impact on current and future generations.

“It is the most pleasant and unbelievable thing to have happened to me in recent times. I feel greatly honoured and grateful to the JWO panel and the Oppenheimer Generations team,” said Dr. Idowu, who is currently a researcher and lecturer at the Department of Chemistry at FUTA.

Since its inception 3 years ago, the JWO Grant has supported groundbreaking African research programmes with the potential to significantly contribute to the advancement of environmental and allied sciences through identifying and addressing real-world issues across the continent. Hundreds of applications were reviewed by the JWO Research Grant expert panel, a distinguished panel comprised of internal and external members with significant experience across academia and research in environmental science.

“We congratulate Dr. Idowu on his superb submission which looks at current issues with micro-plastics holistically. We are excited about what his research will tell us about this important topic. We also want to thank all 292 participants this year. It was a tough decision due to the exceptionally high quality of the submissions," Dr. Duncan Macfadyen, Head of Research and Conservation, Oppenheimer Generations.

“We are excited about Dr. Idowu’s research and look forward to supporting him throughout the duration of the grant. This is an annual award and we endevour to continue to look for leading scientists who are solving the continents most challenging problems.” says Bridget Fury, Head of Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies and Chair of the JWO Grant expert panel.

“We are very happy to honour Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer and continue to preserve her legacy and promote her lifelong vision of seeing research at the forefront of developing solutions for conserving, enhancing and bettering understanding of our environment for generations to come,” said Jonathan Oppenheimer.

About The Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation

The Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation team continue to build a first-class research entity which supports, funds and partners with national and international researchers to conduct cutting-edge research focused on the natural sciences ensuring practical and impactful outcomes. They are committed to further developing, expanding and promoting systems of sustainable conservation programmes and networks throughout the African continent

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