Instrumental Access 2016
Machakos University College: Department of Physical & Biological Sciences
Meet the Department
Founded in 2014 as part of the Kenyan government’s initiative to expand access to higher education, Machakos University College is a constituent college affiliated with the Kenyatta University (also a Seeding Labs partner). The Department of Physical and Biological Sciences, part of the School of Pure and Applied Sciences, currently offers only one BSc program in biology. However, the department is also responsible for teaching biology, chemistry, and physics to hundreds of students from the Schools of Engineering, Education, Agriculture, Hospitality, and Health Sciences.
Detoxing the Environment: Dr. Veronica A. Okello
Dr. Veronica A. Okello is a lecturer and academic quality assurance coordinator in the Department of Physical and Biological Sciences at Machakos University College.
Dr. Okello’s current research focuses on detection and remediation of pharmaceutical pollution in wastewater and herbicide residues in soil. With her expertise in environmental nano-remediation and analytical chemistry, she is developing different detection, characterization, and detoxification methods that can be used to successfully remove toxins from the environment.
“I am particularly haunted by memories of students and staff disposing laboratory wastes containing toxins down the drain without considering the impact on the environment and humanity at large,” Dr. Okello says. “It is obvious that there is a direct correlation of certain diseases observed within human populace residing downstream and occasional massive biota mortality in the water bodies. These experiences coupled with my love for the environment has significantly aroused in me the quest for knowledge on detection and treatment of wastes prior to discharge into the environment.”
Being a new institution located in a rural region of Kenya, Dr. Okello sees unique opportunities for the Department of Physical and Biological Sciences to bring science education close to the community. “Departmental research activities and outputs will play a major role in empowering the community and students on issues of food security, community health, environmental conservation, and climate change mitigation,” she says.
Dr. Okello earned a PhD in nano-remediation chemistry from SUNY Binghamton.