I am John Vershima Anyam from Benue State, Nigeria. I am married to Jecinta with two beautiful daughters: Hiraseen and Monahanafam. I teach organic chemistry at the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, Nigeria. My educational background includes a first degree (BSc Chemistry) from the University of Maiduguri, a Masters and PhD in Organic Chemistry from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. Back home, in Nigeria, my regular work majorly involves teaching chemistry and as some of the classes can be large (thousands) there is seldom little wiggle room for research.
I wanted to come to WCAIR because it is one of the leading centres of drug discovery and innovation in the world. My home is bedevilled by ethnic conflict and disease (my state has the highest number of HIV positive people in Nigeria); I have lost many relations to this scourge. Antibiotics are failing and there is a lot of desperation; mental ill-health is on the rise again around my country. I wanted to come and study everything I could about the drug discovery process, acquire key skills in organic chemistry to improve on my teaching methods, study an effective and progressive environment so I could improve on what I do back home.
I have been here two months and a couple of days; my head is exploding with not just chemistry but biology, art, social order, humility and discipline.
I have acquired new skills in modern methods of chromatographic separation, nuclear magnetic resonance, electronic logging of laboratory procedures, attended a conference where cutting edge principles of artificial intelligence as applied to drug discovery were discussed in depth. I have met people from different nationalities ranging from China, Russia, India, the Middle East, Africa, Brazil and Europe to name a few. These people contribute to the beautiful picture that is the School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee. Everybody is very approachable and humble in a manner that demystifies greatness in a profoundly; you never know who you are going to meet, who will introduce himself as just “Mike”. Coming from a place that is struggling to work I was really interested in looking at how efficient human populations function. I have learnt that honesty and discipline (being able to stop for a street light, being truthful, being modest, putting trash in the right “bin”, when no one is around) matter if a laboratory, a University, a country were to be efficient and progressive.
I look forward to the coming months with bated breath to learn and unlearn; to go home and practice what I have acquired here.