Africa Award for Research Excellence in Space Science

Olawale S. Bolaji

University of Lagos, Nigeria



Dr. Bolaji received his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, in 2013. His broad research interests include space, ionospheric, radiopropagation, and communication physics, while his dissertation research focused specifically on studying the variability of the total electron content (TEC) and magnetic field intensity over the African sector. Dr. Bolaji joined the University of Lagos, Nigeria, as lecturer I, in 2013, and he is currently a senior lecturer. Since 2016, he has also been a university associate in the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Tasmania, Australia. 

Dr. Bolaji has authored or coauthored more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific articles primarily in the area of the African equatorial ionosphere. Over 90% of these articles utilize data over the African sector using a spectrum of instrumentation, including magnetometers, ionosondes, all-sky imagery, and GPS. This body of work includes investigations of magnetic field and Global Navigation Satellite System–TEC variability, equatorial ionization anomaly morphology, interhemispherical field-aligned currents, and sudden stratospheric warming. He is the recipient of the 2016 Early Career Award from the African Geophysical Society for his contributions to the understanding of the lower and upper atmosphere through sudden stratospheric warming studies. His research contributions have also garnered recognition and awards from the United Nations/International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP; Trieste, Italy), Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics’sVariability of the Sun and Its Terrestrial Impact, and the Nigerian Space Agency, Centre for Atmospheric ResearchNational Space Research and Development Agency.

Dr. Bolaji has also forged fruitful space research collaborations with a number of international organizations, including the Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research (Japan); School of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Science and Technology (China); and HighAltitude Observatory, National Center for Atmospheric Research (United States). A notable ongoing research partnership includes his critical leadership in establishing the first high-frequency space weather radar facility in Nigeria, partnering with the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).

Dr. Bolaji is active within his academic department at the University of Lagos and serves as the head of the postgraduate program. He is clearly dedicated to student education and mentoring and has supervised or cosupervised 26 undergraduates, 19 M.S. students, and 6 Ph.D. students. In summary, Dr. Bolaji’s contributions to expanding and revealing critical morphology in the African sector data set and his assiduity in developing future African space science researchers make him a worthy recipient of the prestigious 2020 Africa Award for Research Excellence in Space Science.

Wayne A. Scales, Center for Space Science and Engineering Research, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg




For being counted worthy among the class of 2020 AGU honorees, I give much appreciation to the AGU selection committee. I feel excited to do more exciting scientific discoveries, education, and outreach that will positively impact our society at large. 


Without God’s love, encouragement and support from family and friends, mentorships, collaborations, and support and encouragement in the workplace, this award would have been a mirage. So I dedicated this notable award to Almighty God for the gift of life. “Without life, man is nothing.” And to my family, Amope, Akanke, Amoke, Abike, Ayinke, Ayinde, and Ishola, you guys are the best. This is one of the results of many of your sacrifices over years. Special thanks go to Professor W.A. Scales for nominating me for this laudable award. Your efforts and that of your Virginia Tech group on the upcoming equatorial SuperDARN in Nigeria, which is my main focus at the moment, are much appreciated. Thank you, Professor J.O. Ogunwole, for being part of this historic feat. I will not forget your usual saying on every award, “Aburo, am not surprise.” Sincerely, your inspiration and support despite all odds are appreciated. To Professor A. B. Rabiu, this award is for you for introducing me to the world of space physics. This award is for you, Professor J.O Adeniyi and Professor I.A. Adimula, for your sterling supervision. This award is for you, Professor S.M. Radicella. Under your reputable supervision, I got the required funding, facilities, training, and exposure during my Ph.D. program at ICTP, Trieste,which strengthened my mentality to date in the field. God bless you and your family. 


To Professor P.H Doherty, Professor Christine Mazaudier, and Professor E.O Oyeyemi (Dean, Faculty of Science, University of Lagos, Nigeria), your immeasurable support and contributions that improved my sagacity in space science research remain indelible in my mind. Special thanks go to Professor John Dickey for nominating me for university research associate at the University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia.


To all my seniors, contemporaries, and students in this field of research, too numerous to mention here, this is our award. Thank you so much; your collaborations are the game changer that made this award possible. Your kind thoughts, prayers, and encouragement are immeasurable. To my constituency, the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Lagos, under the reputable watch of our indefatigable vice chancellor, Professor O.T. Ogundipe, thank you for providing me all of the available opportunities that got me this far in space science research.


Olawale S. Bolaji, Department of Physics, University of Lagos, Nigeria