Associate Professor Grace Ofori-Sarpong Wins 2017 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Award for Early Career Women Scientists in the Developing World
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Prof G. Ofori Sarpong With Her Award
Associate Professor Grace Ofori-Sarpong is one of the Five Women Recipients of the 2017 Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD)-Elsevier Foundation Award for Early Career Women Scientists in the Developing World for her outstanding research in Engineering, Innovation and Technology and for serving as an inspiring role model for future generations of women science leaders. Grace is the winner for Sub-Saharan Africa for her work on mycohydrometallurgy (fungi-mediated gold extraction), recovery of precious metals, acid mine drainage mapping, safe practices in artisanal and small-scale gold mining, and her strong involvement in making a positive impact on the issues of women in science and engineering. The award recipients took part in the 2017 American Association for the Advancement in Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, where they received the award on the 18th of February, 2017.
Dr Grace Ofori-Sarpong is an Associate Professor of Minerals Engineering, at the University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, Ghana. Grace is the first female to rise through the academic ranks to the position of Associate Professor in the field of Mining/Metallurgical/Materials Engineering in Ghana.Recounting her story on the journey that landed her to this height, Grace said, “the journey has not been without huge obstacles including traditional definition of who a woman should be, societal demands on what a woman should do, family requirements of what a woman should have and intimidations from class/school mates amidst name calling like ‘witch’, obaa dendene’, ‘bayie’ etc”.
Born into a large family with many people not having formal education or ending at pre-university level, it was difficult to convince anybody that a woman could live above the traditional limitations and reach out to unlimited heights. “For me, it has always been my style to gravitate towards the ‘extra’ beyond the ‘ordinary’ to make my performance extraordinary. I had a strong passion to reach out to that ‘poor’ girl who is living within the limitations that science and engineering are the preserve of men, that women can also do it. It is not about competition or what women can do better than men, but the understanding that women in their God-made nature can take control of themselves and pave a way for themselves, and should be allowed to make the sky their springboard to higher heights”.
Dr Grace Ofori-Sarpong got her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana and her PhD from the Pennsylvania State University in the USA. Her research interests include mycohydrometallugy, environmental biotechnology, recovery of precious minerals, microwave processing of ores, water quality monitoring and small-scale gold mining/processing. She has over forty-five technical papers to her credit and several unpublished reports. She has held several positions in the University of Mines and Technology and currently she is the Head of the Department of Petroleum Engineering and the Vice Dean of the Planning and Quality Assurance Unit. She has also served as a Visiting Professor in other Universities in Ghana and Africa.
Grace is one of the few women who are making an impact in this predominantly male oriented minerals and mining engineering field in Ghana and also in the West-African sub-region. By dint of hard work and creativity, she has utilised fungi in the extraction of gold (mycohydrometallurgy) and her research reported, for the first time, the use of fungi in the degradation of non-organic sulphide minerals.
She has been a role-model at several science and mathematics clinics for young females and has boosted girl-child education and interest in science and engineering. To get an appropriate platform for the passionate desire of hers, Grace has recently founded an association known as Ladies in Mining and Allied Professions in Ghana, of which she is the president.
Grace’s contribution to science has been recognised beyond the shores of Ghana, and thus she was selected as one of the Five Female Recipients of the 2017 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Award for Early Career Women Scientist in the Developing World for outstanding research in Engineering, Innovation and Technology and for serving as inspiring role models to future generations of women science leaders. She is the Winner from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Source: Paul Y.A. Yeboah, Assistant Registrar (University Relations)