Dr Kingsley Onyebuchi Obodo holds an undergraduate degree in physics and electronics technology (Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria), a Master’s degree in Materials Science (African University of Science and Technology, Abuja, Nigeria), and a PhD in Physics (University of Pretoria). He is currently employed by the North-West University at the Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) Infrastructure Centre of Competence. His research focuses primarily on the development of next generation green and catalytic materials for hydrogen technologies.

Dr Obodo led the NITheCS Quantum ESPRESSO (QE) mini-school in May 2022, together with the Dr Cecil Ouma (a Next-Einstein forum fellow and computational physicist with more than 10 years of experience in ab initio studies of materials with different applications). During the mini-school, participants were introduced to the use of different visualisation software; a background to high-performance computing, with the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) providing access; basic scripting for computations; and computational modelling on model 2D and 3D MXene structure for hydrogen evolution reaction.

Practical applications

Dr Obodo says the use of computational modelling, in particular open-source codes such as QE software, is rapidly changing the landscape of computational science in Africa. A significant number of chemists, physicists and even engineers use the package for materials prediction and characterisation, as well as benchmarking. Also, codes like QE are not limited to density functional theory computational modelling code. Rather, they drive science forward in the areas of computer programming, scripting, adoption of scientific programming environments, the use of high-performance computer (HPC) systems, as well as general computation applicable in various sectors. They are also relevant for researchers in the physical sciences, natural sciences, biological sciences, pharmacology, engineering and other fields.

The practical application of some of Dr Obodo’s current work entails the development of long-term storage solutions for hydrogen gas using liquid organic hydrogen technologies, the prediction of new catalytic materials for water splitting reaction towards the release of hydrogen, and the development of new materials for photovoltaic and photocatalytic applications.

He comments on the challenges of his work: ‘There is currently an explosion of computational physics and materials research globally. However, significant investment in high performance computational resources in Africa is needed to place African research at the cutting edge of research. This would result in improvement of livelihoods, as well as the development and realisation of an inclusive equitable society.’

Science and tomorrow’s world

Becoming a scientist is very personal to Dr Obodo. He was raised ‘in a society that believes that education can act as an enabler towards good and modest individuals. Knowledge and education are catalysts towards upward mobility and personal freedom and fulfilment. Debunking myths, the continuous re-evaluation of what is known and following a sound reasoning approach are some hallmarks of scientists.’

This kind of thinking, Dr Obodo believes, ‘would result in a less fractured and more positive society.  I am always thinking of tomorrow’s scientific leaders and am actively involved in training undergraduate, masters and doctorate candidates, as well as mentoring students in the area of science and technology. These students are being infused with the love and passion for scientific research and dissemination. They are spread far and wide across the African continent. The various geographical locations of these students would allow for them to drive change and solve local relevant problems in their various communities.’