Prof. Anthony I. Okoh
|Prof Anthony Okoh hails from Agbor in Delta State. He had his secondary education at Saint Finbarr’s College, Akoka, Lagos and was admitted to study Microbiology at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1983. He graduated with a Bsc (Hons) degree in Microbiology (Second Class Upper) in 1987 and proceeded for his National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) same year. In 1989, he returned to Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) to commence his Master’s degree programme in Microbiology and graduated with distinction in 1992, after which he immediately took up appointment as Research Officer in the Biotechnology Unit of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research in Lagos.
In late 1993, Prof Okoh succumbed to pressure from his former teachers to return to Ife where he was appointed as Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Microbiology. In 1995, he registered for his doctoral programme in the same institution and conducted his research in the area of bioremediation of crude oil polluted systems. Over 90% of his PhD research was done in some reputable laboratories in Europe, Asia and the Americas courtesy several fellowships from such international agencies as the United Nations University, UNESCO-Biotechnology Action Council, WHO, GBF etc. He eventually completed his PhD (Microbiology) in 2002 and graduated in 2003. In addition, Prof Okoh holds ten other diplomas and certificates in biotechnology and molecular biology related specializations from some respected institutions in Italy, Hungary, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, India and South Africa.
Prof Okoh’s academic career saw him rose through the ladder from Assistant Lecturer (1993) to Lecturer Grade II in 1996, Lecturer 1 in 1998, and Senior Lecturer in 2001. He was President of the OAU Staff Club between 2002 and 2004, and served in several committees of the University. He left OAU in 2006 to take up appointment as Associate Professor of Microbiology at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa. In 2008, he was promoted Full Professor of Microbiology, and in January 2009 he was appointed Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, a position he held for 7 years. Also, in November 2013 he was appointed Leader of the Water Resources for Sustainable Development Niche Area at the University of Fort Hare, and in November 2014 he was appointed Director, SAMRC Microbial Water Quality Monitoring Centre (a new national facility of the Medical Research Council of South Africa) at the University of Fort Hare. He has served severally as Acting Dean of the Faculty of Science and Agriculture at the University of Fort Hare.
Prof Okoh’s research expertise falls within the aegis of Applied and Environmental Microbiology with particular emphasis on microbial water/wastewater quality, reservoirs of antibiotic resistance, bioactive compounds of health and biotechnological importance, and bioremediation. He has been involved in various collaborations with eminent academics within and outside South Africa, and has reviewed for over 50 international journals. He has also attracted to his university several national and international grants and subsidies in excess of Forty million South African Rands which is equivalent to about One Billion Naira in the last 10 years. His publication throughput currently stood at over 430 publications made up of over 300 journal articles; several conference presentations (including distinguished guest lectures) and nucleotide sequences deposited in the GenBank in his academic career of over two decades. He has also successfully graduated 34 PhD and 48 Master’s degree students.
Prof Okoh has been a recipient of several awards including the University of Fort Hare Vice-Chancellor Emerging Researcher Award, and the Vice-Chancellor Senior Researcher Medal. Also, in 2011 Prof Okoh made history as the first black person to be elected President of the prestigious South Africa Society for Microbiology (2011-2013), and he is currently a member of the South Africa National Committee on the International Union of Microbiological Society (IUMS). Also, in recognition of his sterling contribution to biotechnology, Prof Okoh was conferred with the Achievers Award of Biotechnology Society of Nigeria in 2016, and in the same year he was inducted as a member of the Board of Trustee of the Society. He is a Fellow of the Water Institute of Southern Africa; member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf); and Fellow of the prestigious African Academy of Sciences (AAS). Prof Okoh currently has an H-index of 39 and i10-index of 125 which bears testimony to his international reputation.
Prof Okoh also finds time to engage in the spiritual needs of the community. He is a member of the Parish Council of St Joseph Catholic Church, Alice, South Africa. He was also the founding Shepherd of the Delightful Land Fellowship at the University of Fort Hare, which later metamorphosed into several parishes of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. According to Prof Okoh, “mine is not about denomination; I go where Christ is preached”.
Prof Okoh is married to Prof (Mrs) Omobola Okoh, a full Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Fort Hare, and they’re blessed with three children – Daniel, Janet and Mark Okoh.