Okoh Anthony

Okoh Anthony was elected as an AAS Fellow in 2017. As a fellow, Okoh Anthony contributes to the development of the Academy’s strategic direction through participation in AAS activities and governance structures. . This gears the Academys vision of transforming african lives through science.

Year elected

Prof Anthony I Okoh holds a BSc (Hons), MSc and PhD degrees in Microbiology, as well as 10 other diplomas and certificates in several aspects of Biotechnology and Molecular Biology from some reputable institutions on the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe and America. His academic career took a start as a graduate fellow in 1990 at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Nigeria, and in 1992 after obtaining his Master degree in Microbiology he was appointed Research Officer in the Biotechnology Unit of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Lagos, Nigeria. In 1993, he was appointed Assistant Lecturer at OAU in Nigeria, and rose through the ranks to the post of Senior Lecturer in 2001, and served in numerous committees in the University system including the Appointment and Promotion Committee, as well as President of the University Staff Club in 2002. He resigned from the service of OAU in 2006 having put in 13 years of meritorious service to take up an appointment as Associate Professor of Microbiology at the University of Fort Hare (UFH), South Africa in 2006. In January 2008 he was promoted Full Professor of Microbiology in the same University, and in January 2009 he was appointed Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, a position he held for 7 years. During this period, and with the support of his colleagues in the department, he turned around the fortune of department (which was at the verge of being rationalized about 10 years earlier) to becoming in 2012 the most productive department in the University. Also, in November 2013, he was appointed Leader of the Water Research Niche Area at UFH for five years, and in April 2015 he was appointed to a first 5 year tenure as Director, SAMRC Microbial Water Quality Monitoring Centre at the University of Fort Hare (a national facility of the South Africa Medical Research Council).He has recently been appointed for a second 5 year term as Director of the Centre (1 April 2020 to 31 March 2025). In 2016, he was appointed for a five-year term as Deputy Dean (Research and Internationalization) of the Faculty of Science and Agriculture at UFH, and Chairperson of the Faculty Research and Higher Degrees Committee. He has therefore garnered extensive experience not only in teaching and research but also in University administration. Prof Okoh’s research expertise falls within the aegis of Applied and Environmental/Public health Microbiology with particular emphasis on microbial water/wastewater quality and genomics; emerging pathogens and chemical pollutants; biodegradation of pollutants; reservoirs of antibiotic resistance; and bioactive compounds of health and biotechnological importance. He has been involved in various collaborations with eminent academics within and outside South Africa, and have reviewed for over 50 international journals. He has also been a recipient of such fellowships as the Postgraduate Fellowship Award, OAU, Ile – Ife, Nigeria, 1990 – 1992; United Nations University Fellowship (1998); UNESCO Biotechnology Action Council Fellowship (2000), as well as several grants from the NRF, MRC, WRC, ESKOM, RS-DFID and ISRAR/APUA. His publication throughput currently stood at 389 journal articles, one patent, several conference presentations (including distinguished guest lectures) and nucleotide sequences deposited in the GenBank in his academic career of over two decades. In 2007, Prof Okoh established his research group called Applied and Environmental Microbiology Research Group (AEMREG) in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology of the UFH, and the group is currently made up of over 40 research students at the Honours, Master’s and Doctoral levels, as well as 6 Postdocs. He has also successfully supervised to graduation 51 PhD and 66 Master’s degree students, and hosted 13 postdocs. Some of his former students are now full professors holding key executive positions as Deans, Deputy Dean, Directors and HODs in various Universities in South Africa and beyond. In 2008 Prof Okoh won the UFH Vice-Chancellor Emerging Researcher Award, and in 2011 he won the Vice-Chancellor Senior Researcher Award. In 2009, he was invited to represent South Africa in the international collaboration on the Surveillance of Reservoirs of Antibiotic Resistance (ISRAR) under the auspices of the Alliance for the Prudent use of Antibiotics (APUA) with headquarters in the Boston, USA. His lab serves as the South Africa Country laboratory for this collaboration and he double as the South Africa Country Laboratory Manager. In 2011, he was elected President of the prestigious South Africa Society for Microbiology (2011-2013), and he is a member of the South Africa National Committee on IUMS. He was also a panel member for the review of academic programmes at the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. In 2016, Prof Okoh was part of the South Africa delegation to Oman on the Oman-South Africa bilateral cooperation Workshop on Water & Agri-biotechnology. He also served as a member of the South Africa National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) discussion forum on Water Management and Skills. In the same year, Prof Okoh was conferred with the Achievers Award of the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN); inducted as a member of the Board of Trustee of the BSN, and in 2019 made a Fellow of the Society; and admitted as a Fellow of the Water Institute of Southern Africa. In 2017 Prof Okoh was elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, and in the same year he was elected Fellow of the prestigious African Academy of Sciences. His current H-index is 50, i10-index is 186 and citations of over 10684 as @ 13 June 2020) (https://scholar.google.co.za/citations?user=84lgrowAAAAJ&hl=en). Prof Okoh also a resource person to Bowen University, Iwo, Nigeria to assist with recruitment of exceptional African academics for the University in 2020. Prof Okoh is happily married to Prof (Mrs) Omobola O Okoh, a Full Professor of Chemistry at the University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa.