• Question: I would like to know more about you in this scientific journey for abetter understanding of the sciences

    Asked by 339bm1926 to Peter, Jonathan, Grace, Doris, David, Ann on 30 May 2019.
    • Photo: Peter Macharia

      Peter Macharia answered on 30 May 2019:

      Hi @339bm1926, that’s a nice question. I will tell you more about my scientific journey.

      From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a doctor, so I worked to achieve this dream. In Primary school, I made sure I was the best, always top of my class. I eyed a specific high school and guess what I made it to that specific high school.

      During my high school days, I knew I had to well in science and mathematics. I made all teachers teaching these subjects my close friends, I would do many questions and ask them to mark in their free time. In the end, I got A’s in all sciences and mathematics and went to JKUAT to do Geomatic Engineering and GIS through a government loan (HELB).

      While at the campus I won may prize and ended up with a first class, all this time I had a desire to research(curiosity) more and teach other students. After campus, I looked for firms that were doing research and where my course would apply. KEMRI Wellcome TRust offered me a scholarship to do a post-graduate Diploma in health research methods at Pwani University. I got a very good grounding in research and mentored by two professors. At the end of the I got a job here to do research and at the same time had a chance to study my masters in GIS and Remote sensing.

      When doing my research I got curious about why children are dieing in Kenya and if we are making any improvements. That’s how i started my PhD and now in my third year.

      In Summary, I would say, its passion, interest, dedication and above all God.

      Read more here about me and my life in research: http://discover.jkuat.ac.ke/alumni-of-the-year-eng-dr-peter-macharia/

      and here: http://ideal.kemri-wellcome.org/fellows/peter-macharia/

    • Photo: Jonathan Abuga

      Jonathan Abuga answered on 30 May 2019: last edited 30 May 2019 7:19 pm

      @33bm1926. Am impressed by this very important question. Am certain that by you listening to other people’s experiences, you will think about your own journey possibly into science.

      Here is my story. From my early schooling years I wanted to become a doctor and save lives. I wanted a specific National Secondary School, which I thought was the way to the University and becoming a doctor. That chance never came though I scored very high marks for KCPE! I settled for a different school. But I kept my dreams alive.

      After completing secondary school and passing KCSE very well, I wouldn’t get a chance to do medicine that year because there were few government-sponsored slots. I had to change from Medicine to Public Health. I joined Kenyatta University and its during my undergraduate studies that I developed an interest in science. Public Health triggered my curiosity.

      After graduating with first-class honors, I sought for a research internship at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme. This was the opportunity to begin a career in science. I applied for it and luckily I was offered a chance for which I am still very grateful. After completing the internship program, I won a masters scholarship to study epidemiology at the Hebrew University, Israel.

      Upon returning to Kenya, I got into teaching at a local university for some time. I returned to KEMRI-Wellcome Trust in late 2017 to for Ph.D. to study the epidemiology of brain disorders in older children. In epidemiology, we ask questions such as how many children have a disease? Where is the disease and why? When does it occur and why? We actually never stop asking questions.

      To sum it I will say this – remain focused, work hard, pursue your dreams with an open mind. Do not suppress curiosity and never stop asking questions.

      Here is a brief description of my current research project: https://ideal.kemri-wellcome.org/fellows/jonathan-abuga/

    • Photo: Grace Kago

      Grace Kago answered on 30 May 2019:

      Thank you for this question! I love also to ask people their scientific journeys 🙂

      From a very young age, I remember whenever I was sick and would go to see my pediatrician, I would ask her why I was sick, and which molecules specifically were responsible for my illness. I wanted to know about the bacteria and about the viruses that were in my body, and how my body was fighting back. I wanted to know what specifically they were doing, and how the medicines that I was given would “catch” them. I wanted to see them, and investigate them. So, throughout school, I always imagined that the only way to know the answers to my questions was to become a medical doctor. I remember when I was in primary school at Makini, I always tried to excel in science so I could become a doctor. When we moved to the US, I remember having the same motivations throughout middle school and high school.

      It is not until my second year of college that I took a class in Molecular Biology, when I realized that Molecular Biology was a tool that would allow me to learn all I wanted to know about the viruses, bacteria, and my own cells. And so I completed a degree in Biology. After this, I still wasn’t sure what the role of a researcher was, and how it differed from a physician. So, even though i was uncertain about training as a formal scientist, I decided to stay in the lab because I really enjoyed experiments, and the discoveries that they unveiled. I ended up working as a technician for 5 or so years. In this time, I learned about the ins and outs of the formal education process to become an independent scientist. I also learned about how experiments are done, and the pitfalls that are present in academia. After that process, I decided I wanted to train to become an independent scientist, and so here I am 🙂