Scientists Rock! is a monthly Q&A where we pull an AbbVie scientist out of the lab to hear what makes them tick. This month we travel to Chicago, IL, United States, to chat with Augustine Osuma, scientist, medicinal chemistry, AbbVie.
A long time ago, in a densely populated West African country, a young Augustine Osuma dreamed of galaxies far, far away. Fascinated by 70’s television space shows and science fiction films, he fantasized about one day traveling faster than the speed of light to explore worlds beyond our own. Now firmly grounded on planet earth, he spends his days designing molecules and gazing into microscopic universes of his own making.
Tell us the story of how you fell in love with science.
Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, my family lived close to the local airport and air force military barracks. During the not so quiet nights, I recall vividly listening to the sounds of airplanes taking off and landing. My fascination with the wonder of air travel was magnified every October on Nigeria’s Independence Day when military jets would fly over our family home. I remember watching in amazement, wondering just how these massive machines could fly so high and so fast. This concept of jets traveling faster than the speed of sound was initially difficult for me to grasp, but really enhanced my curiosity and played a role in my own misconception that fighter planes soared into space. It didn’t help that my brother and I were also obsessed with popular 70’s television sci-fi (and cartoon) shows like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Captain Scarlett and Thunderbird. It was during this period where my curiosity deepened about space and science. I imagined becoming an air force pilot and flying into space just like the cartoon space shows. As I grew older, I came to the realization this was not how things worked, however my desire and passion for everything outside our earth continued to deepen. I feel as though it was my destiny to become a chemist working with elements originating in the stars.