Fadji Maina has become the first scientist from Niger to work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa). Currently, she is the only African in Nasa.The 29-year-old hydrologist earned her PhD in 2016, and joined the world-famous space agency in the US at the end of last month.She told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme she will use her new job to give back to her country and the continent:
“I will say to them to not give up to keep going because everyone would think people from Niger, or a young girl from Niger, would not be able to do this. But just believe in yourself and find an environment that will support you,” she said.
Ms Maina said she is the only African in Nasa:
“You get used to it also I think we need to have more people coming from different backgrounds to be able to solve the problems that we are looking at – because different people will have different perspectives.”
Fadji Maina is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Energy Geosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Fadji received her Ph.D. in 2016 from the University of Strasbourg (France). She worked as a Ph.D. Candidate at CEA (The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) and as a Postdoctoral Researcher at CNRS (The French National Center for Scientific Research) in France and Politecnico di Milano in Italy.Maina grew up in Zinder, Niger, where she studied all through high school. She then completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Fez in Morocco, before attending
University of Strasbourg for her Master degree in Engineering and Environmental Sciences in 2013, before pursuing a PhD in Hydrology in 2016 in a collaboration between University of Strasbourg and CEA.She went on to continue her research at the Laboratory of Hydrology and Geochemistry of Strasbourg (CNRS) before going to Politecnico di Milano in Italy from 2017 to 2018. She joined Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow in 2018, until September 2020 when she joined Goddard Space Flight Center as an Earth scientist, the first Nigerien woman to work for NASA