You are currently viewing Youths must focus on specific IT fields | have an entrepreneurial mindset to succeed – award-winning scientist, Dodo

Youths must focus on specific IT fields | have an entrepreneurial mindset to succeed – award-winning scientist, Dodo

He’s had a stint as a banker, a computer scientist extraordinaire, an inventor, a teacher, and a former visiting scholar to at least one international University and another one in Nigeria.

Today, he’s an associate lecturer at the computer science department of the prestigious York University, UK.

Dr. Bashir Isa Dodo has won many prestigious awards at both undergraduate and graduate levels, in Nigeria and at the University of Brunel, United Kingdom.

The 33-year-old computer genius is best known for his research success in uncovering new ways of identifying & diagnosing damage to the human eye.

For this incredible feat, he was awarded the ‘Best Student Paper’ at the 2018 BIOIMAGING conference in Portugal.

The Katsina-born global citizen loves Nigeria and wants young people to succeed in IT by remaining focused on both intellectual outputs and acquiring entrepreneurial skills.

We are glad to present our inimitable Dr. Dodo – Newspread’s Nigerian of the Week.

  1. Tell us a little bit about you and your story in your own words.

I am Bashir Isa Dodo, the tenth born of the family with 15 other siblings. I was born and raised in Katsina state, Nigeria, although, I started my early education in Kaduna state. After completing my primary education at Kiddies International school in Katsina, I moved on to ULUL-Albab Science Secondary School to complete my secondary education. In 2008, I began my BSc in Software Engineering, which I completed in 2011. Following that, I pursued an MSc in computer systems engineering, which I completed in early 2013.

After completing my MSc, I briefly worked as a teller at Unity bank PLC before realizing my passion for academia. In December 2013, I joined Umaru Musa Yaradua University as an Assistant Lecturer. In July 2015, I began my Ph.D. study fellowship, sponsored by TETFUND, which I completed in 2020. Alongside receiving the Ph.D., I received two recognition awards from Brunel University London, which were the cherries to top it all.

In 2021, I was presented with the opportunity to join the University of York, which I happily accepted. My journey has been full of hard work and dedication to pursuing my passion for computer engineering, and I am excited to see where it takes me next.

2. Tell us a bit more about your area of expertise and how you got your brilliant globally recognized result in your PhD

I specialize in the field of computer vision, which involves mapping the function of the human eye onto computers. Specifically, I focus on segmentation, which involves dividing an image into distinct regions that can be analyzed more effectively. In my work, I view computers as just another tool that can be used to facilitate manual processes.

Hence, to develop effective image segmentation algorithms, I draw on principles of perceptual grouping, which describe how the human eye groups object in visual scenes. These principles include similarity, differences, continuity, and discontinuity. For instance, when the human eye views a scene, it groups objects that have similar colors, patterns, and other characteristics, e.g., the sea is different from the desert and forest even from an airplane view.

I have always enjoyed solving puzzles, and I realized that if the principles of perceptual grouping are used by humans to perceive visual scenes, it should be possible to develop more efficient computer models by implementing these principles computationally. Therefore, I use these principles as the basis for developing image segmentation algorithms that can automatically identify and group similar visual elements in images.

3. What have you been doing since your PhD? 

After completing my PhD, I was excited to return to Nigeria and contribute to the development of my nation. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic presented unexpected challenges and made it difficult to pursue my research agenda as I had hoped. Currently, I am working in a teaching and scholarship role that limits my ability to commit fully to research. Nevertheless, I am determined to reinvigorate my research efforts and make meaningful contributions to the field.

To further extend my impact beyond academia, I have recently founded an NGO focused on promoting quality and accessible education within Katsina state and eventually nationwide. I believe that education is a powerful tool that can transform individuals and communities, and I am committed to making a positive difference in this area. Through my NGO, I hope to empower and inspire students by providing them with access to resources and opportunities that they might not otherwise have. Ultimately, my goal is to help create a brighter future for the next generation in Nigeria.

4. You said you were really keen for your results to be used to benefit the people back home when you were initially profiled, did that happen? How did that make you feel? 

Initially, I had hoped that my research would have a direct impact on the people back home in Nigeria. When people are visually impaired in developing countries, the impact extends beyond the patient to close and distant family members as they strive to support them. Unfortunately, the implementation has not yet happened despite some initial interest from the CMD of Kaduna Eye Centre. While this was disappointing, it has motivated me to explore other avenues for collaboration and impact. For instance, I had the honor of being invited to the Annual General Meeting of the Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria (OSN) 2018, where I connected with some specialists. However, the lack of funding hindered the progress of any follow-up plans with both opportunities. I believe that these things take time, and I am committed to reviving this initiative by reaching out to new and old connections. I hope that these efforts will eventually bear fruit and contribute to the betterment of the community. 

5. What would you say to young people with a passion for IT & how they can get into your field? 

As a citizen of a developing country like Nigeria, it is essential to remain focused and reduce distractions that can derail our dreams. Despite the challenges that come with living in such an environment, it’s important to remember that there are emerging opportunities that our youth can take advantage of. By focusing on specific fields such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, data analytics, data science, and application development, among others, we can create a pathway toward success.

However, it’s not enough to focus solely on these fields. We must approach them with an entrepreneurial mindset that prioritizes funding and sustainability. My experiences have taught me this lesson the hard way, as I was too focused on research without considering the practicalities of funding and sustainability. We must learn to balance our passion for our fields of interest with the reality of creating a sustainable future for ourselves and our communities.

As we take steps towards a digital economy in Nigeria, we must take the driving wheel and create the Nigeria we want to be part of. Let us embrace our potential and work towards making a positive impact in our society. Remember, the future is bright for those who choose to take action and make a difference. Together, we can create a better tomorrow for ourselves and our fellow citizens.

5. How has life been different for you since your success in Portugal?

Life has definitely been different since my success in Portugal. It has been an incredible experience receiving so many congratulatory messages and being recognized for my work. At first, it was a bit overwhelming to manage everything that came with the success, but I have learned to handle it better over time. However, I also realized that it’s important not to live in the glory of the past and keep striving for more.

After receiving the award, I received several offers for collaborations, but unfortunately, for various reasons, they did not go through. Nonetheless, I remain optimistic and I am exploring new avenues to keep pursuing my research dreams. Overall, the experience has been humbling, and I am grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.

6. What’s next for YOU and what exciting things are coming up for you? 

I have remained committed and excited to contribute to my nation, community, and the world through my passion for AI research and education advocacy. As a software engineer, I had reservations about AI’s potential, thinking it might just be a buzz that would eventually subside (“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”). However, I have come to realize that AI models have incredible potential to impact the world positively. With this realization, I am now focusing my efforts on AI research and advocacy for quality and accessible education.

Going into a bit of detail here. Based on my previous research, I have found that high-level segmentation methods such as graph-cut and level-set can provide better modeling ability for image analysis. These methods utilize constraints or conditions that are based on prior knowledge of how the method differentiates the pixels or regions. I believe that having automatic methods that leverage the power of Machine Learning (ML) and Data Analytics to harness this knowledge will play a vital role in the development of image analysis algorithms.

In addition, there is a wealth of information in Electronic Health Records (EHR) that can be harnessed to improve personalized healthcare and possibly identify patterns in diseases. Integrating this data with medical images can also provide knowledge on establishing standards for clinical diagnosis and quantitative validation of segmentation methods. Collaboration between specialists from various fields can help to develop models for understanding this data.

It is widely acknowledged that there is no universal segmentation algorithm due to the conditions or parameters set within the algorithm, which can either make it flexible or too restrictive. I believe that unsupervised machine learning algorithms can bring us closer to achieving this goal.

To achieve my aim, I am actively applying for research grants and supporting NGOs in their efforts to secure grants for education initiatives. I have also started an NGO and am excited to see it grow and make a meaningful impact. With a strong sense of purpose and determination, I am confident that I can help build a better future for all.

8. Why are you happy to be profiled, and have your work showcased as the Newspread Nigerian of the Week?

I am delighted and grateful to be profiled as “Newspread Nigerian of the Week”. It is an honor and a privilege to have my work showcased by such a great platform that shares news worth spreading. Being recognized and found worthy of publicizing is a validation of my hard work and commitment to making a positive impact in my community and beyond.

More importantly, I believe that my profile on Newspread Nigerian of the Week can serve as a source of motivation and inspiration for others to pursue their goals and dreams. I hope that by sharing my story, others can see that with dedication, hard work, and determination, they too can make a meaningful difference in the world. Thank you to Newspread Nigeria for the recognition and the opportunity to share my work with a wider audience.

9. Please use this questionnaire to tell us anything else you would like us to know.

A bit of additional information regarding points 5 & 6.

In addition to my research work, I am also passionate about supporting my community. However, one of the main challenges I faced in Nigeria was the lack of adequate infrastructure to support research. Despite this setback, I remained committed to contributing to my community and making a positive impact. Unfortunately, insecurity struck, and I came across some displaced persons who needed help. Along with some family members, I started supporting them in any way I could. This experience led me to start my NGO, which focuses on providing support and assistance to those in need. Through this organization, I hope to make a meaningful impact and improve the lives of others. 

There are several challenges facing the IT industry in Nigeria, including limited access to funding, inadequate infrastructure, a low level of computer literacy, and inadequate government support. These challenges often hinder innovation, research, and development, resulting in slow progress in the industry. Some improvements are in the pipeline, so we remain optimistic. 

One way to overcome these challenges is through increased public-private partnerships, where the government and private sector can work together to provide funding, infrastructure, and training to promote the growth of the IT industry. This approach can be particularly effective in addressing the lack of funding, infrastructure, and computer literacy.

Another strategy is to promote and invest in STEM education from the primary school level. By introducing computer science and other STEM subjects at an early age, young people will be better equipped to develop the skills needed to succeed in the IT industry. Additionally, the government can provide incentives for IT professionals to return to Nigeria after studying abroad, which can help address the brain drain and boost the local IT industry.

Finally, the government can create policies and regulations that encourage the growth of the IT industry. For example, policies that promote the adoption of technology in various sectors of the economy can create demand for IT services, leading to increased investment in the industry. The government can also establish research and development centers that focus on solving local problems, creating opportunities for local IT professionals to contribute to the development of the industry.

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