143rd Inaugural Research Should Be Capitalised To Benefit Society ~Obuzor

An Organometallic Chemist, Professor Gloria Obuzor, has called on researchers to engage in aggressive product development through applied research that has the capacity to lift ordinary people out of poverty.  She also appealed to authorities of the University to properly equip laboratories, restructure the Annual Research Fair and scale up partnerships with industry players to capitalise research findings for the benefit of society.
Professor Obuzor, who is of the Department of Pure and Industrial Chemistry in the Faculty of Science, made the call while delivering the 143rd Inaugural Lecture to a packed audience at the Ebitimi Banigo Auditorium on Thursday, November 16, 2017.
In the lecture entitled: My Functional Group Affairs: A Pathway To…? Professor Obuzor explained it thus: “In Organic Chemistry, functional groups are specific groups (moieties) of atoms or bonds within molecules responsible for the characteristic chemical reactions of those molecules, regardless of the atoms present in a molecule. The same functional groups will undergo the same or similar chemical reaction(s), regardless of the size of the molecule they are part of.”
The Inaugural Lecturer, who is the current President of the Chemical Society of Nigeria (CSN), further explained that her specialisation was predicated on an interface between organic and inorganic components, disclosing that she functioned effectively in both fields of Chemistry that had enriched her research over the years.
“My functional group affairs' starting material Tartaric Acid (2,3- dihydrobutanedioic acid) (1) is a white crystalline organic acid that occurs naturally in many plants, most notably in grapes. Its salt, potassium bitartrate, commonly known as cream of tartar, develops naturally in the process of winemaking,” Professor Obuzor who is the Head of Department of Chemistry and first female to occupy the CSN Presidency said, stressing the need for Chemists to use the power of materials to enhance the living standards of Nigerians.
The Inaugural Lecturer said she was drawn to Natural Product Chemistry because of the paucity of critical research equipment that were required to ply her trade, describing Organic Chemistry as a fascinating field of Chemistry that enabled her to explore the vast array of natural products. “I had to reinvent and reapply myself, having been empowered through synthesis on the skills of extraction, distillation, separation, characterisation and analysation,” she told the ecstatic audience. 
“In seven years' time, I will be retiring from the University system and because of my functional group affairs and its pathway to product development, I shall not retire into poverty,” she assured the audience. Professor Obuzor also emphasised the need for the University to establish a garden for the development of plants that could deepen research in Natural Product Chemistry. 
 Professor Obuzor whose products included Ukalina Wines (white and red), disclosed that the product won first position at the 39th Annual International Exhibition Workshop of the Chemical Society of Nigeria which held in Port Harcourt in September 2016. She disclosed that her waste-to-wealth project which involved conversion of aluminium cans to potassium sulphate won second position at the contest.
She called on Management of the University to fund  regular participation of researchers at the Annual National University Fair. Professor Obuzor, who is also Vice-President of the Federation of African Society of Chemists (FASC), called for an enabling environment and regular in-service training for researchers to update their skills. 
The 143rd Inaugural Lecture took a dramatic new turn when the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, personally introduced the Lecturer in place of the “Orator” usually appointed for that purpose. He announced that the new format would continue with subsequent Inaugural Lectures, which he said was in line with global best practice. Professor Lale further commended Professor Obuzor for paying her debt to the academy by telling the University community what she professed over the years. He announced that the 144th Inaugural Lecture would be delivered by Professor Love Akonye of the Faculty of Science.


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