PhD student discovers new passion for data, thanks to AIGHD supervisor

Dr. Mbazi Senkoro discovered a newfound passion for data during his PhD – and he owes it all to his time at AIGHD.

He began his PhD in 2012 and as part of his research, conducted a national prevalence survey on tuberculosis (TB) in Tanzania to better understand the true burden of pulmonary TB.

Once completed, the results needed to be analyzed. According to Dr. Mbazi, the way data is analyzed through a prevalence survey is different from the way it’s analyzed through other studies and it was an area he didn’t have experience in. That’s when his AIGHD supervisor Assoc. Prof. Frank van Leth stepped in and helped him discover a new passion: analysis.

“Frank was very knowledgeable in this area and instead of doing it for me, which might have happened with another supervisor, he encouraged me to try it myself. We then went through my work together which helped me understand the corrections I needed to do so I could get it right. This approach really helped me develop an interest in data analysis and management,” said Dr. Mbazi

“I didn’t have anyone else with Frank’s level of expertise who could help me understand data analysis like he did and it was very helpful in terms of helping me finish my PhD.”

During his PhD studies from 2012 to 2016, Dr. Mbazi spent his time between his home country of Tanzania and the University of Bergen in Norway where he defended his thesis. He’s one of many students who are part of the international PhD program offered through AIGHD. It enables students to study in a different country – or remain in their home country – while receiving critical supervision from AIGHD’s academic staff and facilitates a collaboration between AIGHD and universities around the world.

Now working as a Research scientist at the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania, Dr. Mbazi is sharing his newfound knowledge to further his own skills and to assist his colleagues with their projects.

“My director has assigned to supervise or coordinate the data pieces of some of our institute’s projects, along with our statisticians,” he said. “I’m also currently doing a postdoc which focuses on data issues – I’m learning more about modelling and advanced statistical analysis, the foundation of which I learned through my PhD and mentorship with Frank.”

For Dr. Mbazi, his new knowledge goes beyond application in the workplace – it’s something he believes is a fundamental piece of the puzzle all researchers should take a deeper interest in.

“As researchers, the ultimate output of our work is data – it’s at the heart of our work. I think that the person who is doing the research should have basic knowledge of how data analysis is done and what it means. This will help in advising the statistician exactly what you’re looking for in terms of analysis and make a better end result.”