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Itunu Adedeji Combines Curiosity with Traditional Nigerian Work Ethic

Story by
Trisha Radulovich

Itunu Comfort Adedeji is a doctoral student in civil and environmental engineering. Adedeji is originally from Lagos, Nigeria, and studies environmental and water resource engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, through Florida A&M University (FAMU). She is one of 28 students nationwide named fellows of the Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy (SISE). Of those, she is one of the four fellows selected for the 2021 FAIR Cyber Training (FACT) sponsored by Purdue University. Most recently, she was awarded the Almeta Monroe Turner Women in STEM Scholarship for graduate students at FAMU.

What was it like growing up in Nigeria and how does that experience give you a different perspective as an engineering student?

Intunu Adedeji
Itunu Comfort Adedeji, doctoral candidate in civil and environmental engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (Photo courtesy Adedeji)

Growing up in Nigeria is just like growing up in a close-knitted community where everyone is like family. The culture of excellence and great work ethics taught to us from a young age have certainly shaped my perspectives and built my value system. Also, real-world problems drive engineering and its very core is to provide the best sustainable, efficient and cost-effective solution. Every country has its problems, and Nigeria is certainly no exception. Many things inspire me, especially the need for a more sustainable, natural and built environment in coastal and vulnerable regions.

Are you the first doctorate student in your family?

No, my older brother is also a doctorate student in economics.

What inspired you to go into this field?

The environment, research and my sheer love for science inspire me. It’s interesting to view nature from the highest level and to understand the interconnections among the systems and how the little details affect the whole.

What’s been your experience as an international student?

It is a great experience. The cultural dynamics, super supportive workforce, available research resources, opportunities for personal development, collaboration and great sub-tropical weather—couldn’t be better If you asked me.

What’s your advice for students wanting to research in this field?

Curiosity is the bedrock of research. I would say find something you are genuinely curious about—it could be random but something that greatly interests you and something you would do casually. Also, do not underestimate the benefit of collaboration. No one is an island so leverage your knowledge and interact with fellow researchers within and beyond your research group. Results are great, but the biggest take-home is to have a great work ethic. Engage in personal development that translates to other aspects of life.

Where do you conduct your research at the college?

I currently work at the Resilient Infrastructure and Disaster Response Center (RIDER), under the supervision of profesors Clayton Clark and Ebrahim Ahmadisharaf.

To hear more from Itunu C. Adedeji visit her profile at the Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy.

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