Researcher of the Month: Collins Odhiambo
With the title Smooth Goodness of Fit Tests, Collins Odhiambo is looking at recurrent events in various areas particularly the medical field. His focus is on recurrence of events include diseases like TB, Pneumonia, Cholera, Polio, asthma and epileptic seizures. This is what he had to say about his research and personal life.
Tell us about yourself.
I am married and a father of one son. I currently work at Strathmore University as a Post-Graduate Associate (A post-graduate associate is an arrangement where the school allows an individual to work on their PhD and at the same time teach) I am among the first people to be given such a position. I work on my PhD under the supervision of Prof. John Odhiambo, VC Strathmore University and Prof Bernard Omollo of South Carolina, USA. Strathmore provided me with the supervisors for this research. Although I work under CARMS (Center for Applied Research in Mathematical Sciences), my PhD is based on Applied statistics.
What courses did you study prior to specializing in this particular field for your PhD?
My background is in statistics; I studied this course in Maseno University and graduated with 1st class honors. I then studied a Masters degree in Bio-Statistics when doing medical research at the University of Nairobi.
What is your research on?
I have worked with HIV patients before, and due to the dynamics of HIV virus, many patients are prone to get opportunistic infections such as TB ,Pneumonia etc. So my research is pegged on investigating causes, predictors and hazard functions of the recurrence of such diseases. The concept, Smooth Goodness of Fit Test was introduced in 1938 by Neymar who started working at it in 1937. His focus was on Smooth goodness for fit test for none- survival data. In 1998, another fellow named Pena looked at Smooth Goodness of Fit Test for time-to-event data. His focus was on single event of interest like death. My work tries to extend on situations where there is recurrent events such as the diseases mentioned earlier.
When did you start your research work?
I started in July 2013. I defended my first proposal in November of the same year. I then presented the first paper in July this year at the International Biometric Conference in Italy. This presentation marks the first milestone of my PhD journey. I wish to complete the research and final paper by 2016: PhD is worked on in stages, after the first paper has been successfully published, I will extend the paper to cover complex scenarios. The first paper is covering simple hypotheses scenarios. The research work demands that I read some advanced topics in statistics which I have progressively been doing in order to complete the PhD.
A bit of genesis before coming to Strathmore
I had previously applied for a PhD while working at JKUAT. I was researching on couples affected by HIV. I successfully succeeded with my defense, but I could not get time off to work on my PhD. I chose to quit formal employment and luckily I was able to join Strathmore where I was given the support needed, especially with regards to time, to finish my PhD. However, I changed my research topic under the guidance of the Professors.
On working at Strathmore
Strathmore has done a lot for me, I am grateful for the opportunity given. I have been helped financially and through exposure which allows me to be linked to international researchers. The networks help me to learn what is done out there. I also get class release which enables me to make progress in the PhD. I believe the school has created a good environment for me to progress successfully.
Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?
I see myself as an independent researcher who is able to authoritatively and independently design models that are helpful in Public Health, within the context of the university research plans and agendas set by the schools.
Any papers published?
Apart from the PhD, I love researching on different topics and write papers in teaching statistics and training statistics at the university. A paper I already published but is still under review is called teaching statistics in Institutions of Higher Learning. I am also currently working on mark of training paper with my colleague Rachel Mbogo.