Stars and STEM Stories
STEM Stories: Portrait of Nicodème of Benin
Meet Vodjo Nicodème Fassinou Hotegni. "Nicodème" became involved with The GLOBE Program 15 years ago, while a high school student in CEG Gbegamey, Benin. His biology teacher was very keen to share GLOBE's protocols with his students. He taught them to categorize clouds, to read the average minimum and maximum temperatures, and to measure the height of a tree. He also taught them to enter their data into GLOBE's online database of scientifically valid measurements. It was Nicodème's first contact with a computer, and it made him aware of the power of the internet to measure and monitor the environment on a global scale.
What Nicodème did not know then was how much his early work with GLOBE had given direction to his life. His interest in the environment inspired him to study agricultural engineering at the University of Abomey Calavi, Benin. Later, while working on his doctoral thesis at Wageningen University in the Netherlands where he was required to handle large data sets. He found that his early experience with collecting and organizing GLOBE data has improved his organizational capacity as a whole.
At Wageningen, Nicodème's doctoral thesis was aimed at improving the quality and uniformity of pineapples in Benin to increase the volume of exportable fruits to international markets. All over the world, agriculture is becoming more and more market driven, while pressures on the environment are increasing. Wageningen University has evolved into one of the leading education and research centers in plant, animal, environmental and agro-technology studies, and food and social sciences. Nicodème designed appropriate cultural practices that will allow pineapple producers to increase the volume of fruits that can be exported to European markets; he also evaluated and advised on how the different pineapple supply chains could be improved when it comes to delivering the desired pineapples to the right markets.
Nicodème recently obtained his PhD from Wageningen University in crop sciences and agri-food chain management. His plan now is to continue working on ensuring reliable supplies of safe, high-quality food, while maintaining the biodiversity of natural habitats and conserving natural resources.
"Looking back to what we were doing in The GLOBE Program in high school, and to the current debate on the climate change, I have no doubt that the initiators of The GLOBE Program have understood very earlier that we should care about our environment and protect it," said Nicodème. And it appears that his experiences with The GLOBE Program have helped him do just that.