10 Questions with Marian Nkansah
Marian Nkansah, 37, from Ghana is senior Lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi-Ghana.
Currently, Marian is part of a DANIDA sponsored project called SHEATHE. In this project Marian and colleagues are looking at levels and distribution of heavy metals and xenobiotic substances as a result of artisanal gold mining and e-waste dumping in Ghana.
Marian is a participant of the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.
Enjoy the interview with Marian and get inspired:
- What inspired you to pursue a career in science / chemistry?
The environment in which I grew up planted the seed of interest of science in me. I was born to two educationists and grew up on a school compound which was in the outskirts of town. Everything from the woods in which I played with other kids to the backyard farm of different crops and animals tickled my fancy and made me always want to know how things came into being.
- Who are your role models?
My mother Mary Nkansah, a retired Educationalist. She taught me perseverance and the need to keep my eye on the goal.
- How did you get to where you are in your career path?
After my Bachelor program in 2002, I had two options for my one-year national Service. I had to choose between going to industry and staying at the University as a Teaching Assistant. It was then that I realized that I actually liked to teach and also like to help people. I therefore presented myself to be interviewed and was selected among the eight people who were chosen to be teaching assistants that year at my current work place. This would set the stage for a carrier in science. After the national service, I continued with my masters, got hired and pursued a PhD abroad. I returned to my job in September 2012 after my PhD.
- What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
My coolest project was a study I conducted on the levels of heavy metals in the classrooms of some kindergartens in Ghana. The story made the news and led to my granting interviews in the print and electronic media.
- What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself / your work?
The day I was announced as the inaugural recipient of the TWAS FM Al-Kharafi Prize for women in science in November 2016.
- What is a “day in the life” of Marian like?
I wake up at 05:00. Do my morning Prayers before hopping out of bed to take a shower and then have breakfast if not too late. I am a Catholic so try to attend morning mass if there is one before I head for the office. At the moment I am not only a teaching faculty member but also an administrator since I work as warden of Africa Hall, an all-female hall of residence. Depending in my teaching schedule. I start work from the Hall at 08:00 am, attend to letters and other pending issues then move to my office in the teaching area of the campus or vice versa. I meet my research group during the afternoons of Mondays and Fridays where I don’t have any teaching.
- What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?
I wish to make a difference wherever I find myself, and also influence the lives of all I encounter positively.
- What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?
I love traveling and experiencing different people and cultures. I also like to write, dance or listen to music.
- What advice do you have for other women interested in science / chemistry?
I would advice all women interested in chemistry not to allow those who tried and failed or never tried anything at all determine their pace but rather take inspiration from those who tried and made it.
- In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in science / chemistry?
A cure for all chronic diseases from natural products.
What should be done to increase the number of female scientists and female professors?
Creating of a family friendly environment where female scientists can be great scientists and still raise a family if they wish to do so. This would encourage many young women to pursue careers in academia.