Profile
Ivy Kombe
Curriculum Vitae

Education:
Aga Khan Primary Mombasa, Alliance Girls High School, University of Nairobi, Imperial College London

Qualifications:
BSc Mathematics, MSc Epidemiology

Work History:
Equity Bank and Kenya Ports Authority

Current Job:
PhD Student

Employer:
KEMRIWellcome Trust

Favourite thing to do in my job: Solve puzzles.

My work
I use mathematics to try and understand how diseases are spreading

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My work is a kind of data analysis that allows me to convert ideas about disease spread into mathematical concepts. The advantage of having these ideas as mathematical concepts is that you can manipulate the math to answer different questions. Imagine you discovered a new disease and name it Blueblack fever. You notice that once someone is infected they get severe headaches for 2 days after which they start to cough a lot for about 4 more days. They can spread the disease starting from the second day of having a headache and by the time they have stopped coughing they could have infected as many as 5 other people. After the coughing they recover and can never get Blueblack fever again. You can convert what you know about how long the person has a headache, how long they cough and how many people they can infect into equations and once you have equations you can ‘experiment’. Using the equations you can find out how long Bluefever will take to infect a school of 500 students, how many people can you prevent from getting infected if you treat the cough after 2 days. If it takes 25 days for Blueblack fever to spread in a school of 500, how many people can you save if you vaccinate everyone 10 days after the first person gets sick? The kind of work I do is termed as mathematical modelling of infectious diseases.

My Typical Day
Try to be up by 7, spend most of the day at work, get home and watch a series, call my family and get to bed.

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The older I get the less of a morning person I become, so I am rarely up before 7. I take about an hour to prepare for work, sometime I have breakfast at home, but most times I take it at the office while checking emails and looking up random things on google. I do all my work on a computer so I am at my desk most of the time. I have meetings sometime which are good getting inspiration. It is easy to get stuck with something in my work and I have learnt that it helps to have discussions about it. Sometimes just telling someone about you challenge can help you realise a solution for it. I take my lunch at the rooftop of our office building, it has a nice view of the surrounding area and if you squint really hard you can see a section of ocean. It is a good spot to think and clear my head. When I have a lot of work I can be in the office till around 8pm, but usually I am out by 6. I walk home when I can, it is my exercise for the day. I like watching series and movies, so that is what I do after work. I can cook well enough, but I do not like to do it everyday. I call my family every night and go to sleep at around 1 am.

What I'd do with the money
I would organise a math competition among several high schools.

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When I was in high school, finding out that I was good at math was a huge turning point for me. It gave me something I could own and be proud off, more so when I won a math competition in form 3. I was never at the top of the class, but I was good at math, and that was enough to keep me motivated. I would like for more people to be able to experience that, not everyone can be the best at everything and it is important to find at least one thing that motivates you to get up in the morning. In addition to helping students find enjoyment in math, a competition among schools would allow students with a common interest to interact and inspire each other to make good use of their talents.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Analytical, reserved, loyal
What was your favourite subject at school?
Mathematics
What did you want to be after you left school?
An architect
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, for coming to school late
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Professional photographer or a baker…I love cake
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Boyz II men
What's your favourite food?
Chapati with anything
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Took part in a gokart race. I came in last but it was fun
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be?  be honest!
To be a better reader than I am now, to be less afraid of the unknown and a pretty house by the beach :)



My profile link:
https://health17.imascientist.or.ke/profile/ivykombe/
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