Congratulations to inaugural GCC Diversity Fellows, Gabriel Borba and Okeshola Idowu

April 19, 2021

Congratulations to our first Global Change Center Diversity Fellows, Idowu Okeshola and Gabriel Borba! The new GCC Diversity Fellowships are awarded to incoming Ph.D. students from underrepresented communities, providing them with a 12-month assistantship and tuition. The aims of this fellowship are to engage students in difficult discussions of complex socio-environmental problems, learn from their diverse perspectives and life experiences, and equip them with the skills needed to drive change in communities of the U.S. and abroad. The focus of their research includes an emphasis on the social and/or environmental challenges associated with rapid global change, such as pollution, invasive species, climate change, and habitat loss.

Please join us in welcoming both of these exemplary Ph.D. candidates to our program!

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In the fall of 2021, Idowu Kayode Okeshola joins the research group of Dr. Peter Vikesland of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Through his research with the Vikesland group, Idowu intends to build upon his interdisciplinary background to gain expertise in the development of nanotechnology-enabled platforms for the detection of environmental contaminants. Knowing the impact that environmental contaminants have on climate change, species extinction and agriculture, his research will explore methods to reduce the production of pollutants for sustainable growth in areas undergoing urbanization.  Before joining Virginia Tech, Idowu completed his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in Nigeria followed by a M.Sc. in. Environmental Engineering at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany. Upon completion of his Ph.D. research, he intends to return to Nigeria to continue his work in addressing the consequences of environmental contaminants and creating early detection systems to eradicate them.

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Gabriel Borba, also joining the Hokie community in the fall of 2021, will conduct his research in the laboratory of Dr. Leandro Castello of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. As a direct descendant of the Pardo ethnicity of South America, which refers to descendants of the collective European, Amerindian, and West African diasporas, Gabriel intends to study the impact of climate change, habitat loss, and overfishing on the lives of indigenous Amazonians. Specifically, he intends to investigate how climate change and floodplain deforestation affects the hydrology of Amazon rivers and fish habitat, thus impacting fish catch and the livelihood of Amazonians. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Gabriel completed his undergraduate degree in Biological Science at the Federal University of Rio Grande in Rio Grande, Brazil followed by a Master’s in Ecology at the National Institute for Amazonian Research in Manaus, Brazil.