Dr. Francisca Oboh-Ikuenobe, associate professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Missouri-Rolla, was named the 2004 Woman of the Year at UMR Wednesday, April 14, during the campus’ annual Woman of the Year luncheon.
Chancellor Gary Thomas presented the award, which is sponsored by the chancellor’s office to recognize an outstanding female faculty member who has helped improve the campus climate for women and has served as a role model for other faculty and students through her research, scholarship and service. Nominations were submitted from the campus, and a subcommittee reviewed the nominations, selecting Oboh-Ikuenobe as this year’s recipient.
This is the eighth year for the award, which is funded by UMR graduate Cynthia Tang, the founder of Insight Industries Inc. of Platteville, Wis., and a past president of the UMR Board of Trustees. Last year’s winner was Dr. Nuran Ercal, associate professor of chemistry.
ObohIkuenobe joined the UMR faculty in 1991 as an assistant professor of geology and geophysics. She holds a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Cambridge in England as well as a bachelor of science degree in geology and a master of science degree in applied geology, both from the University of Ife in Nigeria.
Known for her research in geology, paleontology and palynology (the study of pollen and spores), Oboh-Ikuenobe is also involved in promoting education to girls and young women in Rolla-area elementary and secondary schools.
She regularly visits local grade schools to discuss science, and also is involved in UMR’s "Expanding Your Horizons," an annual one-day conference for seventh- and eighth-grade girls.
Oboh-Ikuenobe also is known for mentoring UMR students. "Throughout the nomination process (for the Woman of the Year Award), Dr. Oboh-Ikuenobe was noted as a true role model for all current and future UMR students," Thomas says. Among the comments in support of Oboh-Ikuenobe was one from a past student who commended the professor for "considering each of her students on a personal level and fostering self-confidence to her students by following up on their exam and lab performances."
Another former student stressed the important role Oboh-Ikuenobe played in the student’s decision to apply to her "dream" graduate school while working in industry after graduation.
During the awards luncheon, Thomas praised Oboh-Ikuenobe’s research productivity as well as her teaching abilities. Her research grants since 1992 include two from the National Science Foundation, two from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund, two from the Join Oceanographic Institutions, and two from the Missouri Research Board.
The Woman of the Year Luncheon also included a keynote speech by Dr. Kala Stroup, president of American Humanics Inc. of Kansas City, Mo. Stroup formerly served as Missouri commissioner of higher education and president of Southeast Missouri State University.