May 7, 2023

US-based Nigerian wins 2023 Mellon/ACLS award

US-based Nigerian wins 2023 Mellon/ACLS award

…bags 27th award in 9 years

By Chinedu Adonu

A United States-based Nigerian scholar, Mr Chijioke Onah, has won the 2023 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowship award, making it his 27th local and international academic awards since 2013.

This was announced by scholarship giant, the American Council of Learned Society (ACLS), in a press release, a copy of which was obtained by The Vanguard.

Onah’s project, “Toxic Intimacies: The (Bio) Politics of Waste and Disposability in Africa and African Diaspora,“ which won him the award, was selected out of a pool of about 700 entries  from various countries of the world.

The Enugu State-born prolific scholar and graduate of Combined English and History from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, is currently a PhD Student at Cornell University, USA, specialising in Black Atlantic Literature, African Studies, Trauma and Memory Studies, and Environmental Humanities.

President of the donor organisation, Joy Connolly, who made the announcement explained that the award programme is run under a sponsorship grant from ACLS’s partner, the Mellon Foundation, pointing out that it was initiated to support “exceptional emerging“ scholars who are pursuing pathbreaking research.

“ACLS is proud to announce that Chijioke K. Onah has been awarded a 2023 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowship”, the statement read, in part, adding that he emerged “through a rigorous, multi-stage peer review”.

The award which includes a cash support of $50,000, is a new category of a series of fellowship and grant programmes of ACLS, but which aims at supporting innovative approaches to dissertation research in the humanities and interpretative social sciences.

Forty four other scholars were also named as 2023 fellowship awardees, including three other Nigerians, who will also smile home with $50,000 cash support each.

A breakdown of the cash support, as gleaned by our correspondent, shows that it consists of, “$40,000 stipend for fellowship year, $8,000 for project-related research, training, professional development, and travel; and $2,000 stipend to support external mentorship and critical expert advising the fellow’s project.“

The ACLS boss also stressed that the award was designed to support and encourage bold and innovative doctoral students in the humanities and interpretative social sciences through their dissertation research, especially at the formative stage of dissertation development.

She thanked the Mellon Foundation for her partnership, pointing out that such support  helps in forging pathways toward a more diverse and inclusive academy.

In his reaction, Mr Onah told our reporter, in a telephone interview, that he was thrilled by the development.

He dedicated the award to all indigent students in Nigeria and Africa, describing his victory as a validation of hard work and a push to do more.

He thanked the award donors for finding his work worthy of selection, adding that the accompanying financial support would significantly be useful for his present and future academic endeavours.

“To be named a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellow is to be recognised alongside other extraordinarily talented scholars. But I see it much as a push to do more rather than simply a validation of my past efforts,“ he said.