Thank you everyone! I have had so much fun
Sacred Heart Mukumu Girls’ High School: 1999-2002, Maseno University: 2005-2008, Open University: 2010-2014
ICIPE Nairobi, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Kilifi
Favourite thing to do in my job: Two things- successful experiments and meeting new people
I teach Biology at Pwani Univeristy and I would like to understand why some people get very sick with malaria while others dont.
Currently I am a Lecturer at Pwani University where I teach biology to people who are training to be researchers and biology teachers etc among other professions. As a lecturer, 60 percent of my time is spent teaching and 40 percent generating knowledge by research. It is this 40 percent, which roughly translates to two days a week that I spend on my research. I am trying to understand how people become resistant to malaria, why some people are more vulnerable to malaria and if there are any differences in the parasites that cause different levels of sickness to malaria. To do this, we use blood samples from children who attend Kilifi County Hospital with different levels of malaria severity. We collect the immune cells (white blood cells), the antibodies from plasma and the malaria parasites which live inside red blood cells. In order to identify parasite proteins that we can use as possible malaria vaccine candidates, we look at the genes the parasite is making into proteins at the time of disease, and also how different children recognize these proteins either using their antibodies and or white blood cells. With this information, we hope that we are adding knowledge that scientists can continue using in the search for a malaria vaccine.
My Typical Day
Up by about 6.30, work between 8-5, extracurricular activities till 7/8, home sweet home, to bed by midnight
Lets stay up late since we cant do early mornings! This must be my motto!
I have a three year old toddler who leaves for school by 8 am. Since I am not an early riser, I spend most of 6.30 to 8 am preparing him and myself for the day. Once he leaves for school, I take a few minutes to finish up my preparations, which will occasionally include having breakfast then leave for the office or lab.
I then typically spend about 30 minutes on my email and social media before I embark on ‘work’. On the days I have a lecture, I will spend an hour before the lecture going through previously prepared material for the lecture, and about 3 hours in class with my students. Most of this material I prepare while the student are away on holiday so that my ‘work’ time is spent making slides and preparing notes. On a lab day, ‘work’ time will be spent either in the lab running different experiments or analyzing the results from the experiments.
Each day I look forward to 5pm! (don’t we all?) On Mondays and Fridays I join my workout group (beachbodies) for some running and toning workouts. Tuesdays and Thursdays are salsa days where we dance the evening away. I typically go back home between 7-8pm, put my son to bed and get back to some reading-science or fiction depending on my mood. Wednesdays I play mummy in the house-I cook dinner, play with my son and do stuff around the house.
What I'd do with the money
I’d involve my students at Pwani university in engaging primary schools within Kilifi
Most of the public engagement with science in Kilifi has been done with secondary schools. I am interested in changing the perceptions towards science in both my students at the university and possibly with a few local primary schools.
Working in close association with the school engagement programme at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, my approach will be simple
Using previously developed tools eg games on different aspects of science eg immunology or parasitology
Encouraging and advising my students to use their creativity and talents to develop cartoons, skits etc that can be used to communicate different science aspects
I hope this, as a start, will pique the interests of both groups of students.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
composed, reliable and fun
What was your favourite subject at school?
Art and Design and Chemistry
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, lots of time!
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
I would be a designer I think….I still appreciate art. And i have had some artisistc side hustles over time…maybe many more to come!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
old school mostly, Alicia Keys… and currently Elani
What's your favourite food?
I love a well cooked meal- its hard to choose, maybe rice, in all the possible versions!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
health, love, success
Tell us a joke.
Haha! I am poor with those, let me try…
Even though I have a full time job as a lecturer at Pwani University, and researcher, I like to think that my most demanding job is being mother to my son….the responsibility to teach, train and lead this young and innocent soul into a hardworking, responsible and successful Kenyan is no mean fit .
One really cool thing about being a researcher is that science is global and you get to travel and meet people from all corners of the world while communicating your findings. Here, I was doing a poster presentation on my studies , and myself in the lab at ICIPE right after I left campus. Young, full of energy and curious! Part of the malaria parasite gene that I work on is represented as a cake here – art still counts in science!