Meet Angela Tabiri, Postdoctoral fellow at AIMS-Ghana

January 22, 2020


Angela Tabiri’s Bio 

After postgraduate studies at AIMS-Ghana and ICTP-Italy, Angela became conscious of the opportunities available when one studies mathematics. Prior to this, most people thought anyone who studied mathematics at the university would end up as a teacher. This is not to say that teaching is not a good profession as Angela also loves teaching. When she realised the many opportunities available after her postgraduate studies, she decided to volunteer as a mathematics teacher in a junior secondary school in her community. This would inspire the young students that mathematics is not impossible to study as perceived and one could pursue a career in mathematics. Angela’s undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Ghana. 

Currently, Angela is a postdoctoral fellow at AIMS-Ghana. She has plans to organise school outreach events with the female students at AIMS-Ghana. She currently goes to public schools within the vicinity of AIMS-Ghana to engage the students in fun mathematics games and to inspire them.  

Her research interest is in noncommutative algebras which are abstract analogues of subtraction and division. A summary of her research interest is as follows: 

Consider the operations of addition and multiplication. It does not matter the order in which you perform them. That is 

2+3=3+2, 2 × 3=3 × 2

In mathematics, we call this the commutative property. However, the operations of subtraction and division are not commutative. That is 

2 − 3 = 3 − 2, 2 ÷ 3 = 3 ÷ 2

We say that subtraction and division are noncommutative. For any shape that you can draw on a flat surface whereby the shape can be described by an equation, we investigate whether we can put a noncommutative structure on the shape to make it a quantum homogeneous space. This area of research is abstract but her hope is that there will be useful applications of her results in a few years’ time. 
Why did you get into STEM? 

As an undergraduate student, very often, one had to spend at least two hours revising a one-hour mathematics lecture and several hours solving exercises. I found this intriguing. At the university, most students are required to take a foundational course in mathematics because of its importance in their courses. With a career in mathematics, I can improve the teaching and research of mathematics at the university.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?

During my PhD studies at the University of Glasgow, I became social media savvy and decided to make the best out of my social media network. I then founded Femafricmaths, a network of female African mathematicians transforming Africa using mathematics. We interview females with mathematics backgrounds to inspire young students about the different career options available after pursuing studies in mathematics. Interviews are uploaded on our YouTube channel and Facebook pages with audience all over the world and our most watched video having 6900 views. Some of our guests are data scientists, internet security experts, mathematics professors, PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and recent PhD graduates. This initiative is addressing the challenge of most girls not having access to mentors who will inspire them to excel in what they do. Social media has thus become a platform which gives girls from all over Africa and the world access to the success stories of our female guests. 

For the first time in Ghana, Science Slam was organised by Femafricmaths with support from AIMS-Ghana and the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Glasgow. Science Slam is an event where researchers present their scientific research to a lay audience using concepts that the audience can relate with. This event took place in February this year at University of Ghana with ten students of AIMS-Ghana presenting. The audience were thrilled with the performances with some expressing that they did not know that science could be communicated in such fun and engaging ways. 
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?

In the year I enrolled as a PhD student at the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Glasgow, I was the only female student. At conferences in my research area, I usually find few female participants. I find it challenging that there are few women in mathematics. In order to overcome this challenge, I have female mentors who inspire me. With the Femafricmaths NGO I founded, I also inspire young girls to take up careers in mathematics.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?

There are several challenges Women in STEM face. Some can be cultural or systematic. There are amazing women out there who have gone through the challenges you are facing. They will be willing to support you in diverse ways. Do not suffer in silence. Find good support systems on your career journey.

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