Mary Hill High School, Thika (1994). Bsc. Jomo Kenyatta University (JKUAT). MSc. Hannover University, Germany PhD. F.S.U Jena University, Germany (2011)
Favourite thing to do in my job: The first step of identifying the problem, and trying to come up with ideas on how to solve that problem. For example, drought results in food shortage. So how can we solve that problem?
I am an ecologist interested in how plants respond to their environment.
I am an ecologist at heart, I like nature and understanding how it works because I believe that if I understand nature, it is possible to use that knowledge to solve the problems we are having with food shortage and poverty. We can improve our lives, without destroying the world we live in.
My focus is to understand how plants work. How they respond to stress around them like insect pests https://vimeo.com/86392319, diseases, drought and salt stress. This is especially because they cannot even move. Meaning, they have to deal with whatever situation they are in. So, how do plants survive in a desert? Do plants know when they are being eaten by an insect? Can they defend themselves?
I use various tools to study plants, like chemistry, gene analysis and field studies.
My Typical Day
My typical day involves teaching and research.
I work as a lecturer at Pwani University, but I am currently visiting a laboratory (John Innes Centre) in the UK to explore genome analysis.
A typical day at the University involves planning for lectures and practicals preparing materials for the lecture. I would normally have 3 hour lecture or practical a day with students either in the morning or afternoon. After lectures, I make time for the laboratory or field work. This means checking on experiments which either I or Masters students are doing.
Here in the UK a typical day involves morning hours of sitting at the computer and analysing and data obtained from my field or laboratory work. This involves some skills in programming languages like Linux, Perl and Python. I am currently learning Perl and Python, so I spend most of my time on that. In the afternoon I would go to the lab and set up experiments. Here in the UK I am working with a disease organism.
What I'd do with the money
Sponsor a school for the “Ecologists Experience”.
This would involve having a school visit an institution and have the full experience of what it means to be an ecologist. This would involve allowing the students involved to form groups and each groups gets to test an idea of interest (options will be provided or students can provide questions of their own before hand to allow the staff in the institution to prepare).
Starting from designing an experiment, doing it in the laboratory or out in the field to the final point of analysing the data.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Hardworking, passionate and adventerous
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes. I was caught by the teacher on duty imitating teachers during night prep. (He observed by the window for about 15 mins).
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Biology teacher or Community worker
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Sledding in the snow
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
That I discover something new (Eureka!). Had a nice house by the beach. Help a community become self sufficient.