The first time I heard about Ify Aniebo was when The Future Awards 2010 nominees list appeared, at the end of 2009. She was up for the Best Use of Science category as well as the Young Person of the Year. One thing immediately became clear: in a generation full of entertainers and wannabes, Ify, currently a PhD student at the University of Oxford, is a refreshing icon, underscoring the importance of science to our progress as a nation.
She has set an ambitious goal for herself, to find a vaccine for that ageless scourge of sub-Saharan Africa – malaria – which annually kills close to a million persons, mostly children, on the continent.
Ify’s resume is intimidating, belying the fact that she is only 26 years old. She was “the youngest person, the only black person and the only Nigerian in the Welcome-Oxford-WHO unit in Thailand and in the Malaria Department at the Sanger institute in Cambridge,” and has presented at leading malaria research conferences around the world.
She won the Best Use of Science category, and went on to win the Young Person of Year 2010, taking over from Kokomaster, D’Banj. Now it is my hope that, the same way D’banj has inspired multitudes of young people to take to the music studio, Ify will equally inspire large numbers of young Nigerians to find a future in the research laboratory.