The delegation of the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), Nigeria has had many collaborations with Florida Atlantic University, which were driven in part by research collaborations established by Dr. Esiobu, Professor of the Department of Biological Sciences. FAU welcomed the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Ibrahim A. Njodi, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Dr. Aliyu Shugaba, the Coordinator of External Relations, Dr. Shehu Liberty, and the Director UNIMAID Consult, Dr. Adamu Umar Dzivama. Dr. Esiobu assisted a multi-disciplinary team from UNIMAID with a successful grant proposal to the World Bank Project that established a Center of Excellence for Biotechnology and Environmental Conservation. This Center led to many collaborations between Dr. Esiobu and team of UNIMAID administration, faculty, and scientists.
In 2012, Dr. Esiobu assisted UNIMAID with identifying and procuring essential start-up equipment and materials for the laboratory and training technicians, scientists, and engineers. Later that year, UNIMAID sent 12 scientists and affiliates from the Center to FAU for training with flow-through grant funding. During this visit, FAU Environmental Health and Safety, led by Darlene Ward, provided laboratory and biological safety training and insight on overall research compliance issues, they toured FAU campuses and laboratories, and the University of Florida, Homestead provided training in soil science and plant tissue culture training.
These collaborations led to the establishment of a formal agreement between UNIMAID and FAU, where both parties signed a memorandum of understanding in 2013. This agreement has promoted activities between FAU and UNIMAID and established a framework for educational cooperation in the areas of climate change and environmental studies, protection and conservation. Since the agreement, there has been many collaborations such as biotechnology skills training, practical laboratory workshops with integrated lectures led by Dr. Esiobu, where over 50 scientists from various Departments in UNIMAID and around North East Nigeria attended. Dr. Esiobu supervised the first soil metagenomics MS thesis in Nigeria, by Mr Bukar from UNIMAID.
In 2016, the Center received a grant from CRDF Global, a US company, to build on research compliance and bio-safety programs. The Center and its affiliates credit their FAU exposure as a key factor in their ability to secure this grant funding. Since then, the Center at UNIMAID has become a research hub for many scientists and graduate students in Nigeria. This year, during her sabbatical, Dr. Esiobu will return to UNIMAID with the goal of setting research priorities for biotechnology-related work across the University. She will also be supervising a Ph.D. student, co-teaching an advanced biotechnology course, and assisting in grant preparations to apply for the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program and the United Nations Great Green Wall Project.