We’ve got our August winners for the Sparrho Early Career Researcher Prize!

It’s August and we are adding two more names to the Sparrho Hall of Fame. The two young scientists below both receive £500 pounds to go to a conference as winners of the August prize for our Early Career Researchers prize!

Emeka Ogbuju, PhD Student and Lecturer from the Federal University Lokoja, Nigeria exploring a data-driven smart governance in Nigeria

Emeka Ogbujunone

Amanda Markovitz, USA exploring whether pregnancy history can be used to predict heart disease in mothers

Amanda Markowitz

Emeka and Amanda receive a £500 grant each to help them present at the conferences they are going to this year in London, UK and Anaheim, USA.

Learn more about these two exciting young scientists below and be sure to check our blog later to read about their experiences in more detail.

Amanda Markovitz

Research Trainee at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Doctor of Science (ScD) Candidate at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, USA

#health #cardiovascular #pregnancy

Amanda will be speaking at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Anaheim

How would you introduce your research to a non-expert? My dissertation looks at whether you can use a woman’s pregnancy history to predict their risk of heart disease in the future. The research in this area was sparked by the idea that we can think of pregnancy like a type of stress test, similarly to when you go to the doctor and run on a treadmill to see how your heart responds to the stress. There are all of these massive changes to a woman’s body during pregnancy and some women will be able to handle that physiologic stress and have a normal pregnancy while for others whose bodies are already starting to develop what in the future will become heart disease, they might not be able to handle this stress and will go on to have a pregnancy complication.

How has your research field already contributed to the world? Primary care providers are starting to realize the importance of taking into account a woman’s pregnancy history when thinking about their future heart disease risk. It has slowly started to be incorporated in the guidelines they use when making clinical decisions. However, there is a lot of work needed to educate women who had a complicated pregnancy about the link with heart disease and to develop specific recommendations for how to treat these women.

“I’m a scientist because I wholeheartedly believe that the best decisions are made with evidence. Sometimes our findings in science are really counter-intuitive and contradict what people would think should be true based on their own experiences.”

Why are you a scientist and what are most excited about? I’m a scientist because I wholeheartedly believe that the best decisions are made with evidence. Sometimes our findings in science are really counter-intuitive and contradict what people would think should be true based on their own experiences. I think these are some of the most important findings and listening to scientists is how we have progressed so far as a society. I am most excited about learning something new that has a real potential to impact people’s lives.

What advice would you give to younger students regarding attending a conference? I highly recommend finding a way to “debrief” after a conference. I generally learn an overwhelming amount from attending sessions and feel excited about bringing the knowledge back to my work while I’m there, but once I come back there are so many other competing priorities I often forget a lot of what I learned. Before you go, I recommend talking to your adviser, manager, or someone else who might be interested about ways you can share what you’ve learned. I’ve been part of groups that shared abstracts/slides from their favorite sessions after they came back and it was a great way to learn from others’ experiences.

Read more about Amanda’s research here

Emeka Ogbuju

PhD Student and Lecturer from the Federal University Lokoja

#datascience #bigdata #governance #smartgovernance

Emeka will be presenting at Big Data LDN 2017, London in November.

Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself? I am a passionate academic fully dedicated to research and teaching. I hold Masters degree in Computer Science and currently rounding up my PhD in Computer Science from Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU) Nigeria. In my spare time, I enjoy training others on using digital tools to solve business problems. I love doing voluntary and community development projects with non-governmental organizations. I am a husband to one wife and a father to three children.

What made you become a scientist as opposed to anything else? I want to solve problems. I grew up in Nigeria, a developing country full of challenges. I believe that scientific solutions will help in the growth and development of the country.

Was there any other motivation, did you dream of any specific discovery, something you wanted to find out? Yes. I want to find solution to the problem of the deluge of data in our nation that we make so little insight from. I want to develop systems that will find patterns in data and guide government policy. I am currently working on my PhD on using unstructured datasets to build recommendation systems for the e-commerce, applying a combination of deep neural networks and other algorithms.

“The rigour of a PhD develops your critical thinking capacities and gives you exposure to hidden knowledge. To me, it’s more of an adventure to discover a solution and contribute to the body of knowledge.”

What made you choose a PhD, and how do you manage to cope with all that it entails? A PhD is a minimum starting platform for real academic research. The rigour of a PhD develops your critical thinking capacities and gives you exposure to hidden knowledge. To me, it’s more of an adventure to discover a solution and contribute to the body of knowledge. As to how I cope, hmmm… it’s challenging… but as a resilient, hardworking and result-oriented person, I deploy my talents to thoughtfully navigate the process. Again, apart from my primary Supervisor, I also have access to senior colleagues and mentors who guide my course using relevant materials and access to capacity building opportunities. I am indebted to them.

How is your research perceived within the local community, have you had the opportunity to communicate to a wider audience? Indeed, I have been applauded for taking up research in my area — that is Big Data Analytics. This is because it is a current and emerging area in computing. The Faculty Board of my University had described my work as novel, though still in progress. I have had opportunities to communicate to an international audience on Big Data while studying at the International School of Engineering, (INSOFE) India. I have gained a collaborative exposure on mathematical analytics in a workshop on Meaningful Modelling of Epidemiological Data (MMED) at the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, South Africa. I have also done some industry based projects, presented papers in both local and international conferences and published a few articles in learned journals.

Have you experienced any barriers to progressing with your research? Sure. First was a personal barrier; at a point in my PhD I was confused… but through proper guidance I was able to overcome that stage. Secondly, there was a financial barrier; I still need to gain practical skills for an aspect of sentiment analytics and have secured a research centre to acquire the skills but I have no financial sponsorship for it, yet!

“Being a Professor is a dream I must fulfil. And being a renowned Big Data scientist is a height I must reach.”

Do you have particular plans for the upcoming conference, is there anyone you would like to meet or talk to? Sure. Apart from presenting my paper on “Towards Data-driven smart governance in Nigeria”, I hope to meet with other participants and establish contacts for further professional developments. The conference have special track for Big Data and Internet of Things, I will like to have good time with members of that track in particular.

Read more about Emeka’s research here

Sparrho Early Career Researcher Prize now receiving entries! Click to apply
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