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Elizabeth Eterigho

Fellow of Nigeria Society of Engineers and Nigeria Society of Chemical Engineers. Chemical Engineering Department at Federal University of Technology

Interviewer: Dr Sutanwi Lahiri


Dear Prof. Elizabeth, thank you for agreeing to participate in the Special Issue on Women in Process Intensification. At the outset, please give a brief introduction about yourself and your research area.

I am Engr. Dr. Elizabeth Jumoke Eterigho. I am a fellow of Nigeria Society of Engineers and Nigeria Society of Chemical Engineers. I am working in the Chemical Engineering Department at Federal University of Technology and also a Deputy Director at Advancement Directorate office at the University Alumni section. I am also the immediate past President of the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN). I did my graduation and postgraduation (specializing in Petroleum Engineering) in Chemical Engineering and was in the Newcastle University for my PhD. I have another Master degree in Environmental Engineering (Industrial Engineering) focusing on recycling and reuse of manganese in dry cells.

My PhD was in Catalysis and Biofuel/ Biodiesel under my advisor Prof. Adam Phillip Harvey, who is a pioneer in process intensification. My supervisor encouraged me to generate biodiesel and develop suitable catalyst to intensify the process. I was fascinated by the idea of process intensification since then. Process Intensification is basically the ability to maximize the process using a minimal space and machinery. With my background in petroleum engineering, I worked on the development of catalysts and processes to build a modular refinery. Now, I teach and encourage my students to manage the reactants, the products and space in a laboratory scale setup in a manner to maximize the output and get better results.

What are the challenges do you face/ what do you see as the challenges and barriers to making engineering more inclusive for female academics / engineers?

The biggest challenge is you do not have many women scientists and engineers working in Process Intensification in Nigeria. We have more than 66000 registered engineers in Nigeria. But women engineers are only about 3000. Very few of the women engineers work in process intensification. It is difficult to get peers to collaborate and share ideas with.

Secondly, taking the case study of Nigeria, we have a paucity of analytical equipment which are essential in establishing a process. It affects our productivity. I enjoyed the best of facilities while was working in the UK.

One way to solve the issue is to collaborate with resource-rich scientists from other countries and continents who can help you in this area.

What advice would you give to your younger self as an early career woman embarking on a career in academia and in chemical engineering?

I am a strong advocate for women engineers. I would like to encourage more women to join the engineering community because engineers are problem solvers. Now there is diversity in the traditional fields of mechanical and chemical engineering. The application of Artificial Intelligence in Process Intensification is an emerging area. Women can do it better because they are emotionally attached to their profession.

It is also important to collaborate, come over for a few months of training and visit different laboratories across the world. No research can be done in isolation.

From a personal perspective, what achievement/s are you most proud of in terms of your work or career?

Thank you for asking this question. The first achievement that comes to my mind is the outcome of my PhD research. I produced different types of catalyst. I used XPS to analyse different formulae novel catalyst. I would like to patent the catalyst in my name.

I am proud of my research methodology and also my students. One must own one’s PhD. I was also the first women President from the academia of Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria, APWEN.

I have won research grants from PTDF, FUT Senate and TEDFUND for my research, as well.

These achievements have kept my head held high.

I commend the journal for coming up with the idea of celebrating “Women in Process Intensification”. It can help in enriching the field with more collaboration, discussion, awareness and exchange of ideas. The world needs more engineers, more problem solvers.

I am also grateful to Prof. Harvey, my advisor for introducing me to this field.

Interview with Elizabeth Elerigho edited