Ikenna Okafor, Biology

Ikenna Okafor

Ikenna Okafor is currently a PhD candidate in the Program in Cell, Molecular, Developmental Biology and Biophysics.

I study biomolecules in motion using high-resolution microscopes. I am from Rochester, NY, where I spent the first half of my childhood before moving to Edgewood, MD (a suburb of Baltimore). My Nigerian father, and my Jamaican mother raised me (well), and I have 2 older siblings (a brother and a sister).

My area of focus is important because I study a technology that can change the DNA of organisms, giving them new functions, treating genetic disorders which only scratches the surface of its overall potential.

I am inspired by the Agape form of love, which would translate to being motivated by my family, my culture and my desire to help create a better world. I have been the co-director/co-chair of the Black Graduate Student Association for two academic years now. In my role I help design academic, professional development, wellness, and social events targeted towards Black graduate students. In the past two years we have secured over $50,000 in funding to carry out these initiatives.

Ikenna with a large $5,000 check

I’m also a fellow for the Commercialization Academy. As a fellow, I look at early-stage technologies from labs across campus. I conduct market analysis and scan the academic and patent landscape to help recommend a way forward. I make time by communicating with “my team,” using my calendar app, and working virtually helps! 

Participating in case competitions were wonderful experiences; it was my third time doing one. With each one I learned more and more! This case competition, I had a PHENOMENAL team that was very experienced, and they helped bring me up to speed, and taught me so much along the way. Together, we were able to successfully represent JHU and bring home the “Big Check.” 

I believe collective human effort is a powerful way to carry out these goals. Business is essentially a collection of humans that have a similar mission. If used correctly, business can be a great tool for solving many global problems. 

I am currently interning at a consulting firm. I got this internship after taking the Management and Technology consulting class offered by the Center for Leadership Education. The professor is the founding/managing partner at the firm, and he encouraged me to apply. I did and the rest was history. 

Professional development & career development is so important because it allows you to view your work in a broader way. Often as PhDs we get stuck in the experiments, journals, and day-to-day tasks, but continual thinking about professional development and career helps keep things in perspective. My long-term goals are to have a positive and meaningful impact on as many people as I can.

Ikenna with a mask in front of art