Tackling child malnutrition using mathematics

If you dream about making a difference in the world, then choosing a career in mathematics can help you to do exactly that.

All over the world there are mathematics researchers who are helping tackle some of the greatest problems of the modern day such as climate change or the spread of pandemic diseases.

One young researcher has recently won a national prize which recognises his work on tackling child malnutrition in Ghana. Justice Aheto won the 2015 TakeAIM prize for his work using statistical techniques to identify the factors which can make children more at risk of malnutrition.

In Ghana child malnutrition causes 40% of all deaths of children under five. This means that it is vital to develop strategies in order to tackle this problem.  Justice Aheto’s research identifies factors such as experience of diarrhoeal episodes, low levels of maternal education and body mass index, household poverty, absence of toilet facilities, longer breastfeeding duration, multiple births and residing in certain geographic locations of Ghana which can leave a child more at risk of being malnourished.

Ghana has limited resources and therefore Justice’s research will help the government to target help in a more effective way.

What is remarkable is that Justice is still studying for his PhD at Lancaster University.  Even at this relatively early stage in his career, Justice’s work is having an impact.

Justice says:

 “I have a passion to use my expertise to help vulnerable groups of people in society and that is one of the main reasons I am undertaking this study. I have chosen to work on children because they are the foundation of life and society and must be given support if we expect our society to succeed and have great future leaders.”   

If you are interested in pursuing a similar career you should study a first degree in a mathematical subject such as mathematics, statistics or operational research followed by postgraduate study in your area of interest.  It is becoming increasingly common that universities offer postgraduate study which links together two or more different areas of research such as biology and mathematics or statistics and medicine.

In the case of Justice Aheto, his PhD is based in the Lancaster Medical School, even though Justice has a statistics and mathematics background.

Currently there is good funding available for students who undertake postgraduate study in applied areas of mathematics.

 

Read a full profile of Justice Aheto’s career so far.
Article by Hazel Lewis