Ibukunoluwa Ajayi-Banji, a doctoral student in the NDSU Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, has been selected to receive an American Association of University Women International Fellowship for the 2021-22 award year. The prestigious award is highly competitive and selective and provides financial support to assist a student in achieving their academic and professional goals.
International fellowships are awarded for full-time study or research in the United States to women who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Both graduate and postgraduate studies at accredited U.S. institutions are supported.
Recipients are selected for academic achievement and demonstrated commitment to women and girls. Recipients return to their home countries to become leaders in business, government, academia, community activism, the arts or scientific fields.
Ajayi-Banji’s research at NDSU has focused on improving soybean storage for farmers. Farmers experience a significant amount of green or semi-green soybeans in their harvested soybean crops when an early frost occurs. During the first two years of her research, Ajayi-Banji examined the color and quality changes in immature soybeans during field-drying and different storage conditions. The research provided information on how to manage green and semi-green soybeans in the field before harvest and during storage, which has been used by an NDSU Extension specialist to provide recommended procedures for farmers who experienced an early frost.
Ajayi-Banji is an officer of the local chapter of Alpha Epsilon, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers honor society. Members work as mentors for both undergraduate and graduate students. She also is active in a newly-formed graduate student organization.
Ajayi-Banji earned her Bachelor of Science in food engineering and Master of Engineering in agricultural and biosystems engineering. She has served as a UCodeGirl STEM mentor in the Fargo-Moorhead area, and she was a community panel speaker for the 2020 North Dakota Women’s Business Center leadership program.
Nigeria’s continuing struggle with post-harvest losses is the motivation for her research. Through her studies at NDSU, she is gaining expertise and developing information that will reduce food losses and help feed the world population.
“Understanding the relationship between critical environmental and storage factors has been very helpful in understanding storage time of foods and agricultural products. The ability to use this basic understanding to provide indigenous solutions to tackle our food shortage, losses and insecurity problem in Nigeria is a dream for me,” Ajayi-Banji said.
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