Environmental Chemistry, PhD Candidate Gbemisola Bamiduro, was recently awarded a scholarship of Excellence and Professionalism from the Air and Waste Management Association, an international scholarship that helps fund tuition for the 2023-2024 school year.  

Bamiduro was also awarded a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) grant by the Indiana Academy of Sciences. This grant helps support projects and helps recipients share their research.  

Bamiduro’s research focuses on the sustainable removal of persistent organic pollutants from the environment.  

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, persistent organic contaminants, or pollutants (POPs), are “…toxic chemicals that adversely affect human health and the environment around the world.” These contaminants stay in the environment for a long duration of time.  

Two contaminants that Bamiduro is focusing on in her research are glyphosate, a chemical commonly used as an herbicide, and trichloroethylene (TCE), a solvent used for degreasing metals.  

In order to break down these contaminants, Bamiduro creates photocatalytic nanomaterials, which are catalysts that are active in the presence of light.  

Gbemisola Bamiduro in a lab.

Gbemisola Bamiduro

“…These nanomaterials help to degrade or remove these contaminants from the environment” Bamiduro said.  

To break down trichloroethylene, Bamiduro fabricated a photocatalyst that is composed of bismuth vanadate, bismuth ruthenate, and palladium to investigate its effectiveness at degrading trichloroethylene.  

“For instance, in two major projects, I fabricated a photocatalyst that is comprised of bismuth vanadate, bismuth ruthenate, and palladium,” Bamiduro said. “.. So, I have been using this photocatalyst to conduct some reactions and investigate how well it can break down trichloroethylene, which is not an easy compound to break down. So, so far, I have made progress and confirmed that the photocatalysts can break down TCE.”  

“We also continue to work, to look for ways to improve various types of nanomaterials, and utilize them for the efficient degradation of POPs,” Bamiduro said. 

With the Diversity Equity and Inclusion grant from the Indiana Academy of Sciences she received, Bamiduro will present the findings of her research at two conferences, the Air and Waste Management Association Conference, where she will present her research on the degradation of glyphosate as well as attend the award reception which is where she will be presented with her scholarship and the American Chemical Society Conference, where she will share her research on trichloroethylene.   

Being at the conference opens opportunities to network, meet with scientists, present her resume, communicate her research, and receive feedback, Bamiduro said.  

It is through these opportunities that Bamiduro hopes to create visibility for herself in the field and, in turn, inspire others to pursue their goals.  

“…So that other students like me that are coming up will be encouraged to see that if I can achieve whatever I achieve [in my career], they can also do it. Black female students can see that a PhD is achievable in the chemical sciences,” Bamiduro said. “I see myself as an example for other students that are like me. This is the opportunity that this grant opens for me.” 

Additionally, she offers advice to aspiring students, emphasizing that they should not limit themselves and that with determination and hard work, any goal can be accomplished. 

“My advice is that, first of all, you can do it! Do not limit yourself. And really, nothing is too difficult for anyone to achieve. All you must do is desire, dream of it, and put in the work. And usually, once you show your commitment, people are going to want to work with you, and they are going to give you the opportunity…” Bamiduro said.  

The resource that Bamiduro found the most helpful was the support of others.  

“[Having support] is something that you do not always find for people, especially when you are in a foreign country, or there is not a lot of the same people like you. You know, not everybody is going to be encouraging or is going to show you love or is going to try to help you to make things easy for you. But luckily for me, I have had those kinds of people around me that encouraged me, supported me, and showed me helpful material resources. They are willing to write recommendations for me and also just cheer me on, basically,” Bamiduro said. 

Bamiduro wants to use this opportunity to thank her advisor Dr. Zahran who has guided her since joining Ball State. She also appreciates her committee members, Dr. Zubkov, Dr. Neumann, Dr. Berland, and Ball State, for the opportunity to study here.