Heard of Buruli ulcers? – Fatumah Atuhaire



I met Fatumah during my undergraduate days at Makerere University in Uganda, through a mutual friend called Racheal Natukunda. I admired the way Fatumah took no offence in anything thrown at her. I knew I needed someone like that in my life. It is no surprise to me that she was the first person to accept having an interview with me and believing in this idea. Here is our interview about her STEM journey:

Hi Fatumah, it is wonderful to have you join us. We have no idea how big this will become but you are here; thank you very much.
Hi Winnie, thank you for considering me as your first guest. It is humbling to be here.

Kindly state your name please.
My name is Fatumah Atuhaire.

What is your current occupation?
I am a PhD student at the University of Southampton, England. I work with Professor Rebecca Hoyle, under the Faculty of Human, Social and Mathematical Sciences.

What does a PhD student do?
Mainly research about their topics of interest. Some publications and teaching duties as well. In my case, I would say I am a mathematical modeler. I use mathematics to understand how a disease might behave, according to what has been recorded about it before. Currently, I am modeling the formation of Buruli ulcers lesions in the skin. I want to understand how the wounds that appear on the skin of someone affected with Buruli ulcers form.

Who is Fatumah Atuhaire?
I was born and raised in Lyantonde, a district in the southern Central Uganda. I come from a big family, but I have 4 immediate siblings – 2 girls and 2 boys. I attended Ronald Ruta primary school, Masaka Secondary school for my O’level and Trinity College Kabale for my A’level. In 2008, I joined Makerere University to pursue a degree in Education (Mathematics and Economics).

After my undergraduate studies, I got a full scholarship to join the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Ghana for a masters in mathematical sciences. Here I focused on pricing interest rates as part of my research essay. After that, I joined Stellenbosch university for a research masters under the sponsorship of the National Research Fund (NRF) South Africa and AIMS South Africa. I concentrated on the effect of spatial scales in influencing species distribution. And now I have my current position. In general, I have been flexible in applied mathematics.

Any prestigious achievements so far?
I have co-authored one publication so far – if you are in academia you know what that means. I was awarded the AIMS-NEI scholarship for my studies in Ghana, the South African NRF bursary for my research masters in South Africa, and the Central awarded vice chancellors scholarships for my PhD.

I have given presentations about my research at different conferences and seminars. For example, at the University of Mauritius in December 2016, at AIMS Rwanda in June 2017, and at the University of Birmingham in April 2018.

I was also part of women in science while at AIMS in South Africa, where I participated in organising STEM outreach activities.

Is there anything you can tell us outside your work.
I Loves Jesus. Please don’t leave this out, it’s very important to me. I have lived and found my joy in Him all my life. I owe Him everything.

I also like sports, especially volleyball and jogging, and are currently exploring swimming. I like good company, laughing with a team of good old friends. I like trying out new things, generally I can say I am an adventurous person.

Anything additional, maybe a quote, word of encouragement, future step?
If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” ~ Vincent van Gogh

You can do whatever you want to do if you are determined. Doing mathematics doesn’t always mean you will end up teaching, there are many things you can use mathematics for.

Lastly, if you have the ability, always sponsor a child. It will change their lives.

Thank you Fatumah for taking your time to speak to me.

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8 Responses

  1. I am impressed and encouraged by Phatuma s story!Go gal,the sky is the limit and am sure God will lead you to your destiny!

  2. Wow. Amazing. Well done Phatuma. May God continue to take u places. This is an encouragement to young girls passionate about mathematics.

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