Alexander Obiefoka Enukora Animalu is Professor Emeritus of Physics at University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
He holds a B.Sc. (London), M.A. (Cantab.) and Ph.D. (Ibadan), FAS, NNOM, IOM
A pioneer of solar energy in Nigeria, Animalu is a physicist of international repute, member of the highest advisory body on Science and Technology to the Nigerian government, Honorary Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology (2001–2003) and former Director National Mathematical Centre, Abuja.
The only African member to date of the Advisory Board of the Euro-Journal Physica(B) and the only African member of the Editorial Board of the Hadronic Journal, he is also the founding editor of the Nigerian Journal of Solar Energy and one of the pioneering editors of the Bulletin of the Nigerian Institute of Physics. Foundation President of the Solar Energy Society of Nigeria, foundation editor, Nigerian Journal of Solar Energy, foundation member, United States Energy Research and Development Administration and Foundation member and former President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Animalu is author of 28 books in both the sciences and the humanities, including the famous Intermediate Quantum Theory of Crystalline Solids and biographies of Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Professor Chike Obi, Professor Kenneth Dike, Professor Samuel Okoye, Professor James Ezeilo, Professor Chukwuedu Nwokolo, Professor Cyril Onwumechili among others.
He was born on August 28, 1938, the fifth child to Michael Animalu Nwakudu and Josephine Nkenwa in Okuzu, Oba of Idemili South L.G.A. of Anambra State of Nigeria, and attended St. Paul’s CMS Church School, Isu-Oba (1943–44); St. Thomas’s CMS Church School, Okuzu (1944–45), CMS Central School, Isu-Oba (1945–51), Dennis Memorial Grammar School (1952–56) for secondary education and (1957–58) for Higher School Certificate. He then attended University College, Ibadan (1959–1962) where he was taught by Professor Chike Obi and Professor James Ezeilo. Animalu graduated with B.Sc. (Maths) and won the Faculty of Science Prize for the best performance for two consecutive years. He also won the Crowe’s Prize on Abstract Algebra and Theory of Numbers and the University College Postgraduate Scholarship.
It was this College Scholarship that saw him through the University of Cambridge in the UK between October, 1962 and December, 1965 when he obtained the M.A. (Cantab) and Ph.D. (Maths) in Theoretical Solid State Physics. The high quality of his Ph.D. thesis was attested to, when the main results were published in thePhilosophical Magazine in 1965 and included in W.A. Harrison’s book entitled “Pseudopotentials in the Theory of Metals”. The book contained the model potential tables which were in such high demand by researchers in the field of metal physics and semiconductor electronics that the Ph.D. thesis work as published in Philosophical Magazine became by 1983, a citation classic, having been cited more than 729 times between 1965 and 2001. He is the only African in Physics to have earned such a record of citations, his paper being the best among the best twelve cited papers from the University of Cambridge in fifty years (1930–1980). It is of interest to note that four of these twelve most cited works from Cambridge have subsequently won the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Between January, 1966 and December, 1967, Animalu was Research Associate in Division of Applied Physics, Stanford University and between January, 1968 and August, 1968, he was a visiting scientist at the Department of Physics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In September, 1968, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Missouri, Rolla. His research work was in solid state and elementary particle physics. In 1970, he moved to Drexel University in Pennsylvania, as Associate Professor of Physics. A major breakthrough in his career came in April 1972 when he was appointed a research physicist, at the Lincoln Laboratory of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) working under H.J. Zeiger and J.B. Goodenough on research projects related to development of computer core memory and primarily on the development of the transition-metal model potential, thus extending his Ph.D. thesis area to now include all elements of the periodic table. It was within this period that he completed his principal book, Intermediate Quantum Theory of Crystalline Solidspublished by Prentice-Hall in 1977. It became a world-wide classic with an Indian Edition published by Prentice-Hall of India in 1978. It was also translated into Russian by the Russian Academy of Science in 1981, reprinted in US in 1994 and is currently on the World Wide Web.
After a period of teaching and research in the UK and US between 1962–1976, he returned to Nigeria in 1976. Within a year of coming back, he began to make contributions to the development of Nigeria.
LATER CAREER IN NIGERIA
He was invited to become a Professor of Physics in 1976 in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka by his former lecturer and the then Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Emeritus James Ezeilo. The former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, presented him with the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) award for Basic Science in 2000. He rose in academic positions becoming Head of Department of Physics, UNN in 1981 and 1994 and Dean, Faculty of the Physical Sciences, UNN. His proposal to the Federal Government of Nigeria led to the establishment of a Centre for Energy Research and Development in the UNN in 1980. He became the first substantive Chairman of its Governing Board in 1989. The idea for a National Mathematical Center in Nigeria was hatched by Professor Emeritus Ezeilo and Animalu. He was the 1990 Ahiajoku lecturer, the highest Igbo academic privilege given to such scholars as Professor Chinua Achebe and Professor Onwumechili. His theory of high-temperature superconductivity based on the novelty of the pairing mechanism for electrons was published in Hadronic Journal in 1991. He has trained many Nigerians in the field of theoretical physics and solar energy and established two youth organizations, Society for Promotion of Indigenous Inventions and Creativity (SPIIC) and Century-21 Club.
With Willy Umezinwa he coauthored the 1968 book Asp, From African Symbols to Physics’. Animalu has more than 100 scholarly articles to his credit.
Prof. Animalu was honoured with the position of Emeritus Professor of the University of Nigeria in 2006. He is also Chairman/CEO, Institute for Basic Research (Nigeria Division) and a Knight of St. Christopher (KSC).