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If he can name all the animals, I can name all the plants, Camellia Moses Okpodu decided. As a young 4-H student flipping through the pages of National Geographic, the renowned research scientist was fascinated by a photo of an archaeologist sitting at a large desk, cataloging animals by their scientific names. She figured if he could identify all those animals, then she should be able to do the same with the plants on her grandparents’ farm in North Carolina.

Encouraged by her uncle, Okpodu earned a blue ribbon for her 4-H project. More importantly, the experience nurtured a lifelong curiosity that inspired her to pursue a career in biochemistry and plant physiology.

Currently a faculty member in the University of Wyoming Department of Botany, Professor Okpodu was recently ranked one of the top 10 Black biologists from the last 30 years by Academic Influence, an organization that generates objective, data-based rankings for academics and educational institutions across the U.S.

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