Andrew Akala, winner of AGU’s 2019 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Space Science
Andrew Akala

Dr. Akala received his Ph.D. in ionospheric physics and radio propagation at the University of Lagos in 2009. While pursuing his research on ionospheric irregularities and radio scintillation, he became keenly interested in their implications for aviation safety in Nigeria and abroad. An active proponent of aviation safety to this day, he was instrumental in founding the Nigerian Institute of Navigation about 6 years ago, and he currently serves as its president.

He has authored and coauthored more than 60 articles related to low-latitude scintillation morphology, occurrence statistics, and the impacts on Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers intended for aviation applications. More than 50 of these have appeared in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

His leadership has strengthened the space science unit of the Physics Department at University of Lagos and has led to the establishment of new courses in the area of space sciences at the university. This year, he was promoted to the rank of associate professor of space physics. He is a member of the University Senate and the deputy director of academics planning and development of the Distance Learning Institute of the university.

Additionally, his efforts have led to the establishment of new institutions dedicated to improving the safety of navigation through an improved understanding of space weather effects. Through his many outreach activities, he has encouraged the growing community dedicated to space science research to thrive at institutions throughout Africa and worldwide. At the 2018 International Symposium on Equatorial Aeronomy (ISEA) in Ahmedabad, India, he proposed the idea of Africa/Nigeria hosting the next ISEA meeting to expose young African students to ongoing research efforts of the international community. Dr. Akala currently serves as the general secretary of the African Geophysical Society, which is dedicated to the promotion of space science in Africa.

—Charles S. Carrano, Institute for Scientific Research, Boston College, Boston, Mass.


I am deeply honored to receive the 2019 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Space Science. I thank Almighty God for this opportunity. Being recognized by a first-class professional body like AGU is very special to me. It is even more humbling for me to receive this award in the presence of so many leaders of our noble profession. My journey to space science was very unintentional! I had my first degree in physics electronics. My M.Sc. and Ph.D. adviser, the late Jibayo Akinrimisi, directed my steps to space science.

I thank my late father, Ogundeyin Akala, to whose memory I am dedicating this award. The support from my mother, Yetunde Akala, was also awesome. Against all odds, my parents deprived themselves of basic comforts of life to give me education.

I am grateful to the late Santimay Basu and to Sunanda Basu, the initiators of this award. I thank the award selection committee for selecting me, and the AGU Honors Committee for this prestigious recognition.

I was nominated for this award by Charles Carrano. The nomination was graciously supported by Sandro Redicella, Jacob Adeniyi, and Oliver Obrou. Carrano was my adviser during my Fulbright program at Boston College. Redicella is my adviser in the Regular Associate Scheme of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Italy. Aside from the great names above, I was privileged to be mentored by great space scientists, namely, Pat Doherty, Emmanuel Somoye, Larry Amaeshi, Christine Amory-Mazaudier, Nat Gopalswamy, Bruce Tsurutani, Keith Groves, Cesar Valladares, Victor Chukwuma, Babatunde Rabiu, Elijah Oyeyemi, and Dieter Bilitza. Space will not permit me to mention all the names. I am grateful to you all for being sources of inspiration to me.

For me, this award is a clarion call to higher service. I plan to expand my participation in public outreach services. I thank the past recipients of this award for their commitment to space research. I will join forces with them in advancing space science education in Africa and beyond.

I appreciate many organizations that have supported my research in one way or another, chief among which are the University of Lagos, Fulbright Board, ICTP, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Committee on Space Research, AGU, and others. I am indebted to all my past and present students and my research team for their contributions to my success story. Last, I thank my wife, Salomey, and my children for their continued understanding and support toward my career development.

—Andrew Akala, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria


(2020), Andrew Akala receives 2019 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Space Science, Eos, 101, Published on 03 March 2020.

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