Ms Angela Tabiri graduated from AIMS Ghana in 2014. Since a young age, Ms. Angela has been motivated by her dream of becoming a teacher. Her primary and junior high schools in Ghana both lacked libraries, and with her family in a basic house there was no quiet space to study at home. Determined to reach university, Ms Angela spent long evenings studying at her community youth Centre. At the University of Ghana, lecturers encouraged Angela to major in mathematics, which led to her acceptance to AIMS Ghana. At the University of Glasgow, Angela coauthored a paper titled, “The Nodal Cubic is a Quantum Homogeneous Space.” Slated for publish in late 2016, at the time of writing the paper had already received international attention from mathematicians working in quantum algebra, an emerging field of mathematics combining aspects of quantum theory with topology, which studies the stretching and bending of abstract space. Angela is continuing to do research on planar curves, such as the nodal cubic, to determine how they can be classified as quantum homogeneous spaces. The area of pure mathematics Angela researches is esoteric to those who have not studied math at a high level, but Angela explains that her research is helping her build a solid knowledge foundation for teaching. After completing her PhD, Ms. Angela Tabiri plans to return to the University of Ghana as a professor.
HER EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
After postgraduate studies at AIMS-Ghana and ICTP-Italy, Ms 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 she also loves teaching. When she realized 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. Ms. Angela’s undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Ghana.
Currently, she is a postdoctoral fellow at AIMS-Ghana. She has plans to organize 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 non-commutative 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.”
As an undergraduate student, very often, she had to spend at least two hours revising a one-hour mathematics lecture and several hours solving exercises. She found this intriguing as 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, she could improve the teaching and research of mathematics at the university.
During her PhD studies at the University of Glasgow, she became social media savvy and decided to make the best out of her social media network. She then founded Femafricmaths, a network of female African mathematicians transforming Africa using mathematics. She interview females with mathematics backgrounds to inspire young students about the different career options available after pursuing studies in mathematics. Interviews were uploaded on the YouTube channel and Facebook pages with audience all over the world and our most watched video having 6900 views. Some of the guests were 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.
In the year she enrolled as a PhD student at the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Glasgow, she was the only female student. At conferences in her research area, she usually found few female participants. She found it challenging that there are few women in mathematics. In order to overcome this challenge, she had female mentors who inspire her. With the Femafricmaths NGO she founded, she also inspired young girls to take up careers in mathematics. There were several challenges Women in STEM face. Some can be cultural or systematic and there are amazing women out there who have gone through the same challenges. They motivated and encouraged her. She did her research in quantum algebra and teaches postgraduate courses in Mathematics for Machine Learning and Linear Algebra at AIMS. She was the lead for the Girls in Mathematical Sciences Program (GMSP) at AIMS Ghana. The GMSP nurtures girls from senior secondary schools in Ghana to unlock their potential in the mathematical sciences.
She founded Femafricmaths, an NGO in 2018 to promote female African mathematicians. She interviewed female African Mathematicians to highlight the diverse career options available when studying mathematics. Her mission is to inspire young people about the diverse career choices available after completing a degree in mathematics through interviews with mathsqueens and school outreach activities. She vision is to see young girls become confident to choose a career in mathematics related fields.
Currently, Ms Angela has some volunteers who join her on weekends to teach mathematics in a Junior High School in her community (Ashaiman). They are providing support to BECE candidates so they can pass their exams in June and have access to free Senior High School education provided by the government of Ghana.
At AIMS Ghana, she met her Master’s thesis supervisor, Ulrich Kraehmer, who became her PhD supervisor. In June 2019, when she graduated with a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Glasgow, it was an honour for her PhD supervisor. Ulrich was proud to see his AIMS student graduate with a PhD in mathematics returning to her home country to support the teaching and learning of mathematics. She is now a postdoc at AIMS Ghana, teaching in different programs and leading the Girls in Mathematical Sciences Program.
In the next few years, she hopes to increase my research output and collaborate more with researchers in Africa and beyond. In addition, her current outreach activities at Femafricmaths should see more girls in Africa being confident to pursue careers in mathematics-related fields.
The SDG 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality) are most important. She is the lead for the Girls in Mathematical Sciences Program (GMSP) at AIMS Ghana. The goal of the GMSP is to nurture the talents of secondary school girls from Ghana to unlock their potential in the mathematical sciences. In ten years, the GMSP alumni will be leading scientific research and innovation in Africa and winning international medals in their respective fields in the mathematical sciences. The program’s first cohort is made up of 35 students, and they were enrolled in November 2020. Through online master classes, mini-courses, industrial visits and mentoring, GMSP students benefit from quality education which will improve the representation of women and girls in STEM fields.
The mission of Femafricmaths is to inspire young people about the diverse career options available when they study mathematics and the vision is to see girls being confident to take up careers in mathematics-related fields. “Y3p3math”, literally translated as “We like Maths”, is one of our projects at Femafricmaths that provides one-on-one support services in mathematics to students in junior high schools. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, classes were held physically on Sunday afternoons for this project. Though physical contact is on hold because of the pandemic, they have recorded lessons online on the Femafricmaths YouTube and Facebook pages. She also interview female African mathematicians about their journeys so girls across Africa will be inspired by diverse career options when they study mathematics. Interview videos are available on the Femafricmaths pages on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.