University of Bath Maths PhD student Tosin Babasola has been recognised by the prestigious Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation (HLF) for his inspirational research on the effects of climate change on cocoa farming in Nigeria.

Mr Babasola was among 200 young researchers from around the world who were invited to attend the foundation's week-long 2021 forum earlier this month. Of the 200 selected students, 20 were also asked to present posters describing their work, and Mr Babasola was among them.

The HLF platform is an annual networking event that gives early-career researchers the chance to interact with laureates working in the fields of maths and computer science. It’s a space for ideas to take shape and evolve between acclaimed scientists and young researchers, with laureates delivering lectures that are intended to spark discussions between themselves and the young researchers, thereby motivating and inspiring the next generation of scientists.

In his research, Mr Babasola, who is a member of SAMBa (the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Statistical Applied Mathematics at Bath), uses mathematical modelling to track the impact of time lag between the flowering and harvesting stage of the cocoa crop. He hopes to establish how cocoa plants will behave in the near future as atmospheric temperatures continue to rise due to climate change.

Following the laureate event, which participants attended remotely, Mr Babasola said: “I’m honoured to be one of the 200 young researchers selected to participate in this year’s prestigious Heidelberg Laureate Forum. Also, to be one of the 20 among the 200 young researchers to give a poster and have a discussion about my research during this event was a real joy.

“The forum created an exceptional platform for one-to-one and group interactions. I had the opportunity to meet with several laureates such as Leslie Lamport and Whitfield Diffie (winners of the 2015 ACM A.M. Turing Award – an annual prize given by the Association for Computing Machinery), and Alessio Figalli (winner of a 2018 Fields Medal – a four-yearly prize awarded to mathematicians under 40 years of age by the International Congress of the International Mathematical).

“The inspiration I got while interacting with the laureates is one of the things I will always remember. It will also motivate me to strive to become a world-renowned researcher. The standout moment was the discussion with Leslie Lamport, whose work in the development of the document-preparation system LaTeX is now widely used across the world.”

Chris Budd OBE, Maths professor at Bath and Mr Babasola’s supervisor, said: “I’m very proud that Tosin was selected to present a poster at this very prestigious event. Tosin works on the hugely important area of the impact of climate change on agriculture in Africa. He has also been working tirelessly on problems raised by Covid-19. His enthusiasm for his work is very infectious and he is a great role model for all young mathematicians.”