Changing the narrative

Aina Adeogun Success

As an aquatic toxicologist at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, Aina Adeogun, PhD, can expertly identify when an ecosystem is out of balance.

Although she primarily researches the effects of pollution on Nigeria’s fresh and saltwater, Prof. Adeogun could also see challenges in her own environment: the Department of Zoology’s laboratories. The available instrumentation was limiting her potential, and the department struggled to train the next generation of scientists.

It was a familiar narrative for Prof. Adeogun: an imbalance affected nearly everything downstream. In the absence of modern equipment, the department’s teaching and research were stalling.

Graduate students, in particular, were acutely affected by the lack of equipment. They could not perform the kinds of experiments required to answer the complex questions they were asking. Rather, they bided their time, with some abandoning their projects entirely because they could not complete their research.

“We have a lot of challenges to research in Nigeria, ranging from not having equipment to very little grants,” says Prof. Adeogun.

In the Department of Zoology, Prof. Adeogun recognized that one of these challenges could be addressed with the right opportunity: their lack of scientific instruments. After all, how can a department teach laboratory skills without benchtop equipment, or analyze samples for toxic chemicals without a PCR?

Through Instrumental Access, Prof. Adeogun and her colleagues selected the tools they needed to address this major challenge. In June 2019, nearly 2 tons of Instrumental Access equipment arrived on campus in Ibadan, supplying the department with everything from glassware to high-impact analytical equipment.

These pieces have been essential for advancing Prof. Adeogun’s research, which focuses on food and environmental safety, specifically in Nigeria’s major water sources. With contamination of waterways on the rise, Prof. Adeogun is working to understand the way pollution in water affects the endocrine systems of fish, which sheds light on the same biological mechanisms in humans.

In understanding how pollution affects the hormones and even harms the reproductive organs of fish, she hopes to have a greater understanding of how the polluted water impacts Nigeria’s most vulnerable populations: women and children.

Postgraduate students and faculty in the Department of Zoology at the University of Ibadan

The department’s research potential has also improved in astounding ways with this increased capacity. They were able to secure accreditation for their biological sciences program while also creating opportunities for graduate students to compete for international funding.

Now, Prof. Adeogun has been awarded a grant from the Nigerian government to study microplastics in the aquatic environment of local waterways, helping graduate students and faculty to better understand how animals are affected by human-caused changes to their environments.

While research is flourishing among graduate students and faculty, Prof. Adeogun also sees the impact of Instrumental Access equipment on the ways that she teaches her undergraduate students. Time doing practical experiments became time they all looked forward to. Her students took their education into their own hands, literally, and stepped into the world of modern experimentation.

The equipment allowed graduate students to complete their research and gave undergraduates hands-on learning opportunities. Rather than looking at pictures of how the equipment could be used, students are now able to feel how they are used in the lab, gaining crucial experience.

“We are now able to do hands-on experimentation to complement theoretical concepts,“ Prof. Adeogun says. “You would be amazed what a simple micropipette can do to change teaching and science in a country like Nigeria.”

In short, Instrumental Access equipment has transformed the department in all aspects.

“This single donation of equipment has changed the narrative for us as faculty and for our students,” Prof. Adeogun explains. “We used to have a lot of problems with trying to explain scientific concepts to our students because we did not have the equipment to ensure that we could do this. And that became frustrating.”

That frustration is now, thankfully, in the past. And Prof. Adeogun can embrace her department’s new narrative, where the proper instrumentation is being used to ensure better teaching and completed research.

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EK Wahome

EK Wahome
Logistics Intern

EK Wahome started working for Seeding Labs in 2024 primarily in the Instrumental Access Program. She is currently a Junior at Tufts University studying Biochemistry and Biotechnology.

EK is passionate about making research equitable and accessible to all.

Jennifer Raymond

Jennifer Raymond
Director of Corporate Relations

Jennifer partners with corporations, universities, and nonprofit organizations to identify opportunities to repurpose surplus scientific laboratory equipment that will in turn empower talented scientists in developing countries through the Instrumental Access program.

Prior to joining Seeding Labs, Jennifer served as a Development Officer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where she managed relationships with donors, foundations, and corporations to advance the groundbreaking work of research scientists.

She also directed membership programs for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and alumni relations for the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Jennifer graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in French studies and a minor in philosophy.

Manisha Patel

Manisha Patel
Scientific Director

Manisha uses her scientific expertise to implement the equipment-related aspects of Seeding Labs’ programs and plays a key role in Instrumental Access.

She provides support to Instrumental Access awardees, helping them choose the instruments that best meet their research and teaching goals. She also advises the Corporate Relations team on equipment that would be useful in our awardees’ labs.

Manisha has extensive experience in managing academic research labs with knowledge spanning lab setup, compliance, and equipment training. Most recently, she oversaw labs at Harvard University.

For the past decade, Manisha directed an undergraduate internship program focused on one of her passions:  diversity and inclusion in STEM. She holds a BS in ecology from Rutgers University and an MS in ecology from the University of Vermont.

Micaela Leaska

Micalea Leaska
Programs Specialist,
Metrics & Evaluation

Micalea works with the Programs team to develop and implement metrics and evaluation tools, and to monitor the worldwide impact of Instrumental Access. She compiles and analyzes quantitative data and qualitative stories that exemplify our mantra, “talent is everywhere.”

Her prior work experience includes consulting for the World Bank, working on Water Security Assessments for Peru and Central America, and improving access to safe water in rural Ecuadorian communities with the nonprofit WaterStep.

Micalea holds a BA from Saint Michael’s College and completed her Master’s degree in Climate Change and Global Sustainability from SIT Graduate Institute, where she studied global science issues alongside scientists, stakeholders, and community members in Iceland, Tanzania, and Ecuador.

Chiudo Ehirim

Chiudo Ehirim
Instrumental Access

After completing an Atlas Corps Fellowship with Seeding Labs, Chiudo now provides support to our Instrumental Access partners from his Rumines Ltd. office in Lagos, Nigeria. Chiudo is CEO of Rumines, an environmental technology and management consulting company.

Prior to his fellowship, Chiudo was a country manager for Nigeria with Climate Scorecard, a US-based organization that monitors how the top 25 greenhouse gas-emitting countries implement the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Chiudo earned a BS in pure and industrial chemistry from the University of Nigeria and a Master’s of Science in environmental technology and management from the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.

David Borman

David Borman, PhD

David works to highlight the innovation and scientific successes of Instrumental Access awardees. In telling these scientists’ stories, he helps to show the global impact of the Seeding Labs mission.

Prior to joining Seeding Labs, David worked as the alumni affairs director for Brevard College in North Carolina and managed communications for Kids Center for Pediatric Therapies, a nonprofit in Louisville, Kentucky, that provides services to children with special needs.

David earned his PhD in English from the University of Miami. He holds an MA in English from the University of Louisville and a BA in English from Bellarmine University.

Christine Srivastava

Christina Viola Srivastava

Vice President of Programs

Christina is responsible for program development, planning, and implementation at Seeding Labs. 

Christina has experience as a research program evaluator and science policy analyst. She’s held roles with the consulting firm Abt Associates, Inc. and the Science and Technology Policy Institute.

Prior to entering the consulting world, Christina worked for the Boston-area nonprofits Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and Urban Ecology Institute. She holds an undergraduate degree in biology from Swarthmore College

Rick Sherman

Rick Sherman

Vice President of Philanthropy

Rick is responsible for the fundraising activities at Seeding Labs, engaging with corporations, foundations, and individuals to increase their financial and equipment donations to the organization.

Prior to joining Seeding Labs, Rick spent 17 years working in a similar capacity at a number of science-focused organizations, including Keystone Symposia, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (now the Science History Institute).

Rick earned an MS in Finance from Drexel University, and a BS in Paper Science and Engineering from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

David Qualter

Vice President of Operations

David is responsible for global logistics at Seeding Labs, overseeing the efficient movement of lab equipment worldwide.

He joined Seeding Labs from Image Arts, a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, where he provided logistics direction for the company with $110 million in annual sales.

He brings 20 years of supply chain management experience with in-depth knowledge of international logistics, warehouse execution, and distribution center operations.

Originally an art student at Southeastern Massachusetts University, David now uses his creative talents to develop logistics strategies that produce operational efficiencies and quality customer service.

Melissa P. Wu, PhD

Melissa P. Wu, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Please direct speaking requests to

As the CEO of Seeding Labs, Dr. Melissa P. Wu connects scientists and institutions around the world to help reduce barriers to scientific discovery.

Part scientist, part engineer, and part facilitator, Melissa brings strategic insight and rigorous methodology to her work, together with a dedication to helping people.

Melissa is driven by two overarching values: that scientific research is a critical tool for improving human lives, and that research thrives and we as a community make the best discoveries when we foster diversity in perspectives, approaches, and ideas. Joining these two ideas has given her a career focus on creating opportunities for people of all backgrounds to engage in scientific research.

Prior to being named CEO of Seeding Labs in 2019,
Melissa served as Senior Vice President of Operations. She revamped Seeding Labs’ Instrumental Access program to increase its efficiency while expanding its impact.

Melissa’s previous positions at the Harvard Office for
Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership and the BioBuilder Educational Foundation helped spread scientific knowledge to students nationwide.

She is proud to have mentored many students through
programs at the Journal of Emerging Investigators, Harvard, Boston Children’s Hospital, and MIT.

Melissa earned a PhD in Cellular and Developmental
Biology from Harvard University and holds an SB in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.