Advisory Board

Professor Francisca Oboh-Ikuenobe

Francisca Oboh-Ikuenobe, Ph.D., FAAAS is Professor of Geology and Biological Science, and former Program Head of Geology and Geophysics and Interim Chair at the Department of Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

She is a geoscientist specializing in palynology and sedimentology, with the former including studies of pollen and other palynomorphs within sediments and sedimentary rocks as a proxy for biostratigraphic, palaeoecological, and palaeoclimatic reconstructions. She also integrates palynofacies with organic geochemistry.

Francisca is a geologist and geoscientist from Ubiaja in the Esan South East Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria. She specializes in palynology and sedimentology as a means of reconstructing paleoecology and paleoclimate, and her career, marked by a number of distinguished awards and achievements, has taken her from the Cretaceous in Nigeria to the Eocene of the U.S. Gulf Coast to modern-day West Australia.

As a palynologist and sedimentologist, she studies deposits of pollen, spores, dinoflagellates, and other microscopic fossils lacking mineralized exoskeletons, and the rock layers they are found in. These offer insights into ancient climates and environments, and the ages of the deposits.

She learned of palynology, and began her studies in it, as an undergraduate student. Her Master’s thesis was a comprehensive study on the biostratigraphy of the Niger Delta, using sediments and fossils, and her Ph.D. thesis was titled Palaeoenvironmental Reconstruction of the E2.0 Reservoir in the Kolo Creek Field, Niger Delta (Nigeria). In 2011 and 2017, respectively, she was named a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, honoring her contributions to palynology and her work as an educator.

She earned her Bachelor’s Degree of Science from Geology in 1983, at Ife — now Obafemi Awolowo — University in Nigeria, where she received the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduate Students. Afterwards, she worked as a production geologist for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria in Lagos, and as a palynologist with Shell at their geological laboratory in Warri Delta State. In 1984, she returned to Obafemi Awolowo University, where she earned her Master’s Degree of Science in Applied Geology in 1987, before becoming an assistant lecturer there.

In 1987, she left her home country to study for her Ph.D. in Geology, which she earned in 1990 at the University of Cambridge with a full scholarship from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.

She joined the faculty at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 1991. In 1997 Francisca was appointed associate professor of geology, in 2005 full professor, and program head in geology and geophysics from 2006 to 2014. She was appointed interim department chair from January 2015 until July 2017. In her early career she worked as a Shipboard Sedimentologist on the high profile international Ocean Drilling Program, which collected the deep sea sediment cores that are now central to our understanding of long term climate change, sailing on the Ocean Drilling Program (Leg 159 Eastern Equatorial Atlantic Transform Margin) January to February 1995.

Francisca is regularly involved in education and outreach initiatives, and was Director for the Association for Women Geoscientists Foundation from 2005 to 2009. She also works very closely with her students, leading a research group comprised of undergraduates and graduate students whom she works with on a daily basis.

When asked about her advice for students about to enter the geoscience field, she requested that her students be cordial, seek out a mentor, make time for themselves, and ultimately: “Collaborate. Go outside your comfort zone occasionally and choose your collaborators carefully. Your chances of obtaining competitive research grants will be higher and your research and publication productivity will increase, too.”

Amongst other offices, she was president elect, president, and past president of the AASP (The Palynological Society) from 2010 to 2013, member-at-large on the Geological Society of America Diversity in the Geosciences Committee from 2012 to 2015, director of the Association for Women Geoscientists Foundation, 2005 to 2008, and editorial board member of Palynology Journal, 1995 to 2009.

In 2010 and 2011 she was a workshop leader for “On the Cutting Edge”, a professional development program for current and prospective geoscience faculty members, supported by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and funded by the National Science Foundation. Since 2013, she has been a member of the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) Scientific Board (Global Change Group), which is under the umbrella of UNESCO/International Union of Geological Sciences.

Francisca’s numerous awards include:

Watch Francisca Oboh-Ikuenobe. Visit her LinkedIn profile, her faculty profile, and her homepage. View her Google Scholar page and ResearchGate profile. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Read her TeachTheEarth profile.