University of Nairobi: 1996 – 2000; University of London: 2009 – 2013
B.Sc (Zoology); M.Sc (Clinical Trials)
KEMRI/Wellcome Trust (2001-2005); KEMRI/USAMRU-K (2006-2009); ICRH (2009-2015)
Tutorial Fellow, PhD Student
Favourite thing to do in my job: I like finding simple ways of communicating science
I am a Molecular Biologist, undertaking PhD research training & teaching in the University.
For over ten years, I have researched HIV/AIDS, STIs, and malaria in human of varied genetic makeups. In all research organisations I worked, I organised routine meetings for staff to share scientific knowledge and/or established programs to mentor students in science. Looking back, this was perhaps the greatest pointer that I was meant to be a teacher. So two years I switched to full-time teaching.
I teach genetics & related subjects at in the department of biological sciences at Pwani University – something I truly enjoy! Science is dynamic, new knowledge is generated often. So teaching entails constant reading so as to deliver the most uptodate content to my classes. It also requires finding suitable teaching aids to ensure that scientific concepts are communicated effectively and understood by the students.I also have administrative duties such as coordinating exams and students’ research projects in the department. I get to supervise students some of them in conducting research projects in various aspects of their courses. I am also undertaking PhD studies for which I am conducting research on the genetics of microorganisms found in the corals of Indian Ocean.
Teaching at the University also presents with research opportunities. I supervise students on their final year projects, as well as conducting my own research for my PhD studies. For my research, I extract DNA from microorganisms found in polluted and healthy corals of the Indian Ocean. I want to see if human activities in the ocean drive differences in the composition of these microorganisms and if these compositions may be used to predict death or health of corals. By the way corals are very important because they house about 25% of all sea life most of which makes human foods. So coral’s death means diminished food for us and possible death.
Finally, I also have administrative duties such as coordinating exams and students’ research projects in the department.
My Typical Day
Fairly predictable yet very fulfilling teaching tasks…
I mostly get to work around 8 am, sometimes at 7 am after dropping my daughters to school and my wife to work. I am lucky to have most of my classes in the morning – it’s fairly difficult to keep students from dozing after lunch considering the heat! I head to class to teach for about 3hrs and come back to the office to check emails and make preparations for future classes.
Most afternoons are spent dealing with administrative responsibilities regarding exams and student’s research. This might be sending out messages about deadlines, receiving exams set by lecturers, organising for exam moderations etc. When I have the time I also design experiments and logistical plans for my PhD work – my samples are collected out of Kilifi.
Unless I have late classes I leave office at 4 pm to pick my daughters from school, and wife from work when she can leave early!
What I'd do with the money
I will fund research project/s by curious student/s hungry for research experience
While I enjoyed sciences and even did a science course in the university, I never really knew how I would use the exciting concepts learned to change lives. That was until I was a finalist student where I was required to undertake a research project. The experience truly changed my perspective and most importantly launched me deep into science. I attribute my practising science today to this and a field trip into research institutions that we took in my final year in the university.
I believe if I offered someone else opportunities such as these, they might as well be the next scientists having their curiosity genuinely aroused by the exposure. Sadly, many students with exciting research ideas don’t get to bring them to actualization for lack of funding. Sometimes the finances required aren’t much but universities don’t fund undergraduate projects. And with the project dies also the dream to be a scientist! I hope to change this, even if in one or two students.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Simple. Inspiring. Strict
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
A bus driver, a policeman or a musician among other invalid dreams I still harbor!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Currently it is Valetine Monakho. No, you don’t know him!
What's your favourite food?
It used to be Githeri, then Pepper Steak… wait, I will go with Chapati + Maharagwe
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Playing with my kids
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Health, wealth, and peace.
Tell us a joke.
There are two ways to know one is old: one, forgetting. Two… I forgot the second one!