LAUTECH’s Fagbola wins L’Oreal-UNESCO 2019 Young Talents Award

A doctoral candidate at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, Funmilola Fagbola, of the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, has emerged one of the two Nigerian female scientists (among 20 from Africa) awarded the L’Oreal-UNESCO 2019 Young Talents Awards for Sub-Saharan Africa on Friday, November 22, 2019 in Dakar, Senegal.

Her research project focuses on ‘Detecting Misinformation with Proof and Deep Learning Models, and Nature-inspired Algorithms.’

The award, sponsored jointly by the Foundation L’Oréal and UNESCO for Women in Science programme, was part of the 10th edition of the regional programme for Women in Science.

Funmilola Fagbola bagged a B.Tech and M.Tech degrees in Computer Science of the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, LAUTECH in 2010 and 2017, respectively.

Currently, she is a doctoral student in the Department of Computer Science at the institution.

Her interdisciplinary concerted research efforts have focused on deep/machine learning, social media big data analytics and information security.

For her doctoral research, which she commenced in the 2018/2019 academic session, she is investigating how nature-inspired deep learning models could be developed for misinformation detection in online social networks.

This intensive research, being ably supervised by Prof. Stephen Olatunde Olabiyisi, is strongly motivated by the rising trend in the use of social media and associated technologies to spread lies, propaganda, rumors, fake news and other related unverifiable contents, which in turn, has its significant contributions to the growing cases of abuse of drug use, socio-economic and political instabilities, global high mortality rate, high government spending, suicide, communal crisis, war threats and global terrorism among others.

To this end, her immediate interest is developing reliable and efficient adaptive learning systems to mitigate and curtail this menace. Professionally, she bagged three (3) IT certifications from Cisco Networking Academy in cybersecurity and Internet-of-Things (IoT) Networks in 2018 and contributory author of nine (9) research publications.

In September 2018, she was the only recipient of the eScience IEEE 2018 Philips Grants award in Amsterdam, The Netherlands for a week-long workshop and training on big data analytics for security applications.In November 2018, she won an ACM travel grant to attend a Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (ACM FAT*), held between January 29-31, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.

This 2019, she won the prestigious Google Women Techmakers Scholarship held in London, UK and the L’oreal UNESCO “For Women in Science” fellowship held in Dakar, Senegal.

She is the founder of the Rural Girls in IT (RuGiT) initiative, a startup NGO that is aimed at bridging the digital divide among women and girls within rural communities in Nigeria.

RuGiT also encourages and supports young girls to study STEM with major emphasis on ICT in a bid to promote sustainable development via technology and ensuring increased women inclusion and participation in Information Technology practices within Africa.

Funmilola’s long term goal is to own a deep learning research laboratory of international standard and to become a Professor of Computer Science with strong track record of research breakthroughs in machine learning interdisciplinary domains with applications to relevant real-life problems in the context of Africa.

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