Meet Dr. Nwigbo Stella Nusua, a lecturer from Onu, Nigeria, who recently became the first female international scholar to complete her doctoral studies at Jain (Deemed-to-be University) even as she revels in her newfound milestone. Stella or “Onun” as she is affectionately referred to, in her home country, spent almost four years at the University working on her doctoral thesis titled, “Impact of expert system as a tool for efficient teaching and learning process in educational system in Nigeria, a case study of University of Port Harcourt.” Stella’s research revolved and delved into algorithms that made it a novel.
She completed her Ph.D. last year and has since relocated to her home country, Nigeria, where she is awaiting a new posting having served an earlier stint as a lecturer while raising her children in her family of five. At the department, she also got time to attend conferences and make presentations at various forums in academia traversing the length and breadth of the city and the neighbouring states.
The first question we asked Nwigbo Stella Nusua was why she chose to pursue Information Technology.
Although I had great interest in other subjects in school, I always felt Information Technology would best serve my inherent interests, for the simple reason that I always felt there were a lot of discoveries to be found in sciences than you would normally do in other disciplines. Secondly, I was good at Mathematics and Physics and was always interested in how things worked in the disciplines and I could not think of anything else apart from being a part of the amazing journey that the discipline embodies. I have never regretted it.
What inspires you about Information Technology?
Advances in the domain of technology have always fascinated me. It is just about everything in the discipline. And then, it is a discipline that keeps taking shape with each passing day and calls for application. The challenge for me has always been trying to keep abreast with the ever changing nature of the discipline. It is such a privilege to be able to make discoveries and unravel things that are attached to it.
Do you think the perception of research being a male-dominated endeavour can be changed, and if so, how?
It is upon us women to bring about changes in the society. We cannot expect it to happen on its own unless we have ourselves made a change in the mindset. I see no reason why women should not be engaged in research and bring about innovations. The biggest challenge would be identifying their interests but once that is taken care of, the change will come.
What would you tell women mulling undertaking research?
Our success stories should be an inspiration for many to venture into research. I would say if you want to do research, go ahead and immerse yourself in all its streams. You will never regret it!
How did you choose Information Technology as a career path?
I did all my schooling in Nigeria and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. I followed this with a Master of Technology degree in Information Technology. Prior to my departure to India, I was working as a lecturer at the Federal College of Education (Technical) in Omoku that has since got affiliated to the University of Nsuka.
What was a typical day like during your research?
There was course work to contend with, work with other research scholars, meetings with the guide, attending conferences, amongst others. I am just glad at the end of it all, everything went fine.
What is the most exciting thing about your research?
Having something new to do practically every day and having the facilities to seek answers to the myriad questions that often arise from an engagement that revolves around investigations.
What challenges did you face in your research?
It is never easy being away from home and being actively engaged in a demanding work such as research. A higher degree by research involves extensive training in research methods as well as systematic, high level study of a subject or study under the guidance of a supervisor. The nature of work involved and the length of time it can take to complete it is very demanding. You then present your results in a thesis, explain your research methods, and defend them in an oral examination. Well, God was on my side and I am glad it has come to a fruitful conclusion. In such an endeavour, a collaborative environment is key and one must be open to accepting different viewpoints. Overall, I had colleagues, both from my home country and adopted home, who were very supportive and without any prejudices in both the activities related to my research and routine life in the city.
How did you fund your research studies?
I got the backing of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund), an agency funded by the Government of Nigeria. The scheme supports lecturers in tertiary institutions in Nigeria to travel for studies to different countries outside Nigeria and also get engaged in conferences and seminars.
What is the biggest take away from your research experience at JAIN?
India as a country is fascinating and living in Bengaluru had its fair share of fun and thrills. There (India) it was hard work from every side and by everyone. I cannot thank everyone enough – my research guide, Dr. Madhu BK- faculty at the Department of Computer Scince, Dr. Sandeep Shastri – Pro Vice Chancellor, and Director of Centre of Research in Social Sciences and Education (CERSSE), Dr. Mythili Rao – Research Coordinator, the International Students and Scholars Advisory Centre, colleagues and others in the University who have stood firmly by me during my research. The commitment of the academic staff and management to the welfare of students and scholars was wonderful.
What would you advice those seeking their fortunes in research?
Follow your passion and don’t ever give up thinking you cannot do it. Also, do not pay heed to what people think about your abilities. There is a great feeling of satisfaction when you finally get through and you get the title that will be a feature before your name.