Kehinde Moyosola Ositimehin followed her heart to OHIO, fisheries and water quality
Kehinde Moyosola Ositimehin follows her interests, even when they take her to places she doesn’t expect.
As a child, Ositimehin wanted to study medicine, but over the years, she developed a passion for working in outdoor environments.
“I wanted to leave the department at first, initially, but I realized that I fell in love with the field,” Ositimehin said. “Over time, I ended up loving fisheries. I ended up loving water quality and loving everything that deals with water.”
Trained as an ichthyologist during her undergraduate years, she brings her experience and skills to the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service and the Environmental Studies Program, where she currently studies the interaction between hydrology and sediment dynamics.
Ositimehin has also worked for three years with Aller aqua Nigeria Limited in the aquaculture industry in Nigeria. Based on her experience in the field, she co-founded a joint venture, Twinzy Farms and Foods, alongside her twin sister, Taiwo Ositimehin.
At the Voinovich School, Ositimehin spends her time studying the hydrology and sediment in the Bloody Run Swamp at Lancaster, Ohio, and she engages in research assistant duties out of state, including Pennsylvania. Every two weeks, she and the teammates at the Kruse Lab trek out to wetlands and spend multiple hours working to collect samples which they take back to the lab.
It’s hard work.
Ositimehin had to get used to the bitter cold winters and humid summers far away from her home in Nigeria. Natalie Kruse Daniels, Ositimehin’s advisor, recalls one of the first major challenges Kehinde faced in terms of weather. During the winter, the fieldwork team traveled to Pennsylvania.
“To her credit, she powered through and figured out how to keep warm and to manage that winter,” Daniels said. “Some of that’s really not for the faint hearted. It can be cold and wet. It’s very physical.”
Ositimehin said that this past summer, she was almost sick from the heat. Despite that, she’s persevered.
Ositimehin’s dedication to her research has paid off. In the student presentation competition, she was awarded second place at the graduate student poster presentation at the 39th annual conference of the American Society of Reclamation Sciences (ASRS). She was also a recipient of the travel award grant from the ASRS. At Ohio University, she is a beneficiary of the Travel Award Grant (Spring 2022) and Original Work Grant (Fall 2022) to support her research. Recently, she was awarded the American Geophysical Union Austin Endowment for Student Travel to facilitate her presentation at the 2022 AGU Fall Meeting which will be held Dec. 12-16, in Chicago, Illinois.
Talking about her feat at the ASRS conference, Ositimehin said, “It means a lot to me because it shows a recognition of the effort I’ve put into this, and it also means a lot to the department that I came back with a prize”.
Daniels noticed that the ASRS award gave Ositimehin a confidence boost.
“That little bit of validation like that … little boost to get over imposter syndrome,” Daniels said.
The work Ositimehin’s doing provides data about how agricultural land use is affecting the water.
Daniels explained that much of Ohio and the Midwest used to be swamp and wetlands that were drained for agricultural purposes. The soil is very rich because of it, but the area then loses the benefits of a wetland.
“Wetlands are this really great natural sponge,” Daniels said.
When there are intense rainfalls, water collects in the wetland areas and carries sediments and nutrients. Wetlands hold those sediments before they’re flushed into other waterways.
Ositimehin’s data will be used in monitoring solutions to the erosion, sediment, and nutrient enrichment caused by agricultural runoff and reduction of wetlands.
Besides her research, Ositimehin is involved with the African community on campus. She said it is one of her favorite social parts about OHIO. “They make me feel at home,” Ositimehin said.
She serves as a Peer Advisor with the International Student and Scholar Services. She is also a member of Athenian Toastmaster’s club and her favorite place to relax on campus is Emeriti Park.
Ositimehin is keeping an open mind about what she’ll do when she graduates in May.
“I’ve always been optimistic,” Ositimehin said. “I’m exploring every opportunity I see to advance either in academia or the environmental industry.”