Former 2013 Borlaug LEAP fellow Oluwaseun Kolawole is enrolled at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, pursuing his PhD program in the Department of Microbiology. His thesis research aligns well with the priorities of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria where he is employed as a full-time research officer. Mr. Kolawole is investigating the evolutionary genomics of Phytophthora megakarya, the major cause of black pod disease of cocoa in Nigeria. The disease causes large loses to farmers and Mr. Kolawole is working to further understand the Phytophthora pathogen and the epidemiology of the black pod disease, which will allow for an informed selection of disease resistance sources for breeding cocoa with resistance to P. megakarya.
During his fellowship, Mr. Kolawole traveled to University of Florida to work with Dr. Erica Goss, an assistant professor with expertise in population genetics and molecular evolutionary analysis of plant pathogens. He took advantage of his time at the University of Florida by attending weekly seminars, visiting the UF Tropical Research and Education Center in South Florida, and attending the Annual Meeting of the American Phytopathological Society.
Dr. Ranajit Bandyopadhyay, a plant pathologist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), served as Mr. Kolawole’s CGIAR mentor. He supervised the microbiological and epidemiological portion of the research that was conducted in Nigeria and provided complementary expertise that helped enhance the research results.
Mr. Kolawole feels that leaders should be self-aware and understand what they are capable of accomplishing. A leader must have foresight and take risks to accomplish goals. According to Mr. Kolawole, good leaders are strong, self-confident, and decisive, but still humble enough to accept suggestions and constructive criticism. Once Mr. Kolawole completes his PhD, he hopes to be in a position to influence policy and effect change in his home country of Nigeria. He is passionate about becoming an agent of change in helping to transform the current research culture and to help promote innovation. Mr. Kolawole is currently at at the University of Florida, where he is studying as a visiting scholar while working on completing his PhD in Plant Pathology. He hopes to complete it by the end of 2015.