UK-Africa Postgraduate Advanced Study Institute in Mathematical Sciences (UK-APASI)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Mathematical & Physical Sciences

Abstract

The research consortium between, the UK, Africa and other interested partners seeks to provide innovative mathematical solutions to fundamental global problems and questions faced by the Sub-Saharan African (SSA) region (Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe).

The statistics are overwhelmingly clear:

(i) The top five killer-diseases in Africa are HIV/AIDS, lower respiratory tract infections including Tuberculosis, diarrhoea diseases (linked to water borne diseases and poor sanitation), malaria and strokes;

(ii) Despite significant investments, crime activities (murder, sexual offences, assault, robbery, hijacking of cars, etc.) in Southern Africa, particularly in South Africa, continue to be of national and international concern;

(iii) Governments and National Parks across SSA are faced with significant challenges in designing efficient methods for wild-life management and conservation;

(iv) Almost 80 percent of faculty staff in Departments of Mathematics at Universities across SSA hold at most a Masters degree and in some cases, many senior faculty staff members do not possess a PhD. The figures are astonishingly depressing particularly for Historically Disadvantaged Institutions.

Our mission is to offer alternative research-led quantitative solutions to these global challenges by carrying out interdisciplinary and inter-institutionally research in mathematical sciences focusing on six key research strands:
(1) Infectious Tropical Diseases: Towards disease control policies supported by scientific evidence theory; (2) Mathematical Modelling of Biological Systems: From data to models and back; (3) Numerical Analysis and High Performance Scientific Computing; (4) Crime Modelling in Sub-Saharan Africa; (5) Mathematics for Public Policy and (6) Statistical Methods for Data Analysis, Model and Parameter Estimation. Outcomes of our programme include (i) innovative quantitative solutions based on rigorous mathematical theories, (ii) training of a new generation of young African scientists agile and competent in skills for model building, validation, interpretation, and communicating modelling results to policy makers, and (iii) influence government and non-governmental organisations through rigorously tested scientific methods and solutions.

The mode for delivery of these research activities is through one Postgraduate Advanced Study Institute in Mathematical Sciences and two intensive Workshop Series aimed at training the future leaders of Africa on the latest state-of-the-art mathematical, numerical and statistical methods that allow them to derive new models from data, carry out rigorous mathematical and numerical analysis and then to complete the full research cycle, fit the models and parameters to data by use of rigorous statistical methods. This allows the researchers to select from a wide range of models based on different biological assumptions and their mathematical translations, the best model that fits data and be able to carry out parameter estimation under these conditions.

We will partner with the Southern Africa Mathematical Sciences Association (SAMSA) and MASAMU program to deliver our research and pedagogical activities (see letters of support from both). SAMSA represents over 40 Universities across SSA and hosts an annual conference to which many of the SSA researchers are in attendance. One of the postgraduate advanced study institute and workshop will revolve around the SAMSA annual conference in order to reach a wider community beyond that supported by this proposal. The MASAMU program, funded primarily by the National Science Foundation for USA faculty staff only, will complement our research and training activities.

Planned Impact

Our vision and motivation is to increase postgraduate capacity development and the quality of mathematics training in the Sub-Saharan Africa Universities and therefore our programme will focus on four key areas: Research, Education, Training and Collaborative Networking in Mathematical Sciences. An immediate impact is that we will increase the number of academics with Masters and PhDs in Mathematics in the ODA countries. In addition, the project will build capacity to offer postgraduate taught courses (e.g. taught Masters Program) which are not currently offered due to lack of qualified and experienced staff. Hence, this collaborative project will promote collaboration between South African academics and their counterparts in the UK with the potential to generate several impact cases through this training network: Impact cases include:

(1) Early career fellows and young faculty staff members from the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region will be trained in mathematical sciences through our Summer School, Postgraduate Advanced Study Institute and Workshop Series in mathematical sciences and their training will be put into practice through downstream training of masters and undergraduate students in mathematics when they return to their respective institutions. For example, the Department of Mathematics at the University of Limpopo in South Africa has 36 staff members of which only eight are PhD holders. Approximately 16 Staff members possess a Masters degree and 14 staff members are doing their Masters degree. A similar story at the University of Zimbabwe out of the 20 staff members in the Department of Mathematics, only 10 are Phd holders, 9 hold a Masters degree and 3 staff members are pursuing PhD studies. Therefore, this new generation of highly trained researchers will be highly sought after in Applied Mathematics in positions with their respective Universities or in government and non-governmental organisations. The expectation is that these will become the future leaders in mathematical sciences applied to real-life problems of significant importance to their countries.

(2) Ministries of Health, Law and Justice, Wildlife Management and Conservation will adopt quantitative solutions to make appropriate policies that could benefit their countries as well as the Sub-Saharan Africa region. New insights will be gained on infections disease transmissions, dealing with emergent new diseases, crime management, policing guided by mathematics, wild-life management and conservation, etc.

(3) Our research outcomes will impact knowledge transfer and exchange through international collaborations between the UK and SSA academics, pedagogical material will be made available to our African counter-parts, and algorithms and software packages will be offered to participants free of charge.

(4) The outcomes of our proposal will impact on economic growth in ODA countries (Sub-Saharan Africa region) as well as the UK economic growth. We will empower African researchers with employable and transferable skills ranging from modelling, analytical, numerical and computational skills as well as the ability to make informed policies. Employment opportunities include academic positions as well as in governmental and non-governmental organisations where their skills are most required.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The UK-Africa Postgraduate Advanced Study Institute in Mathematical Sciences (UK-APASI) is a capacity building initiative that seeks to strengthen mathematics in Sub-Saharan Africa by training early career fellows and young faculty in the areas of Applied Mathematics. In collaboration with the Southern Africa Mathematical Sciences Association (SAMSA), a regional organisation representing universities across Sub-Saharan Africa, UK-APASI has already undertaken four postgraduate advanced institute workshops all held virtually online (three of these at the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences - through a contract agreement) and one workshop through the USA-UK-Africa MASAMU Programme. These workshops blend in-depth postgraduate advanced lectures with tailor-made research projects to advance mathematical training and research in SSA. Research questions involve modelling infectious diseases (eg. COVID-19, malaria, TB, HIV, etc), cellular biology (cell motility and cell migration), pattern formation (e.g. reaction-diffusion systems on evolving biological surfaces), mathematical analysis, numerical analysis and algorithm development. Early career mentors from the USA, UK and Europe play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between senior faculty members and the masters and phd students from Africa. They also act as ambassadors for mathematics by sharing expertise and good practice on how best to undertake research degrees (MSc, MPhil, PhD).

All this is being achieved within the current pandemic which has required us to re-configure our delivery methods and provision for training. The UK-APASI programme was meant to start 1st April 2020 but due to the pandemic, with all countries under lockdown, we could only start the first workshop in November 2020, the second in December 2020, the third in February 2021 and now the forth in March. We have scheduled four more workshops running monthly until end of June and then we will re-evaluate the programme to see if we can host an in-person event in Africa. All workshops are hosted virtually online and that has meant reducing the number of days per workshop to a maximum of three days. This decision was based on previous experiences of hosting virtual workshops in Mathematical Sciences.

We approached the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences to help us host and deliver all workshops. ICMS is ideally suited to hosting such short-intensive events, they have all the expertise and capacity to support delivery of lectures, hosting of pre-recorded lectures, keeping detailed records of participants, live-recording and broadcasting of lectures as well as carrying out post-workshop surveys to gauge impact. UK-APASI and the ICMS have entered a collaborative agreement in order to formalise the relationship and therefore allow us to deliver more efficiently the original objectives of the programme.

Research collaborative projects have been initiated involving COVID-19 in Nigeria and South Africa, modelling malaria in Nigeria, crime modelling in South Africa, modelling cell migration with collaborators in Botswana and mathematical analysis and simulations of coupled bulk-surface partial differentials equations with collaborators in Kenya.
Exploitation Route UK-APASI outcomes include delivery of advanced postgraduate lectures which have been recorded and can be accessed through the ICMS servers. These lectures are freely available, ranging from data-driven modelling, analysis, numerical analysis, simulations and applications. Topics covered include infectious diseases (COVID-19 featured prominently), pattern formation, cancer biology, ecology, finance, and crime and subsistence-abuse modelling. Lectures were delivered by faculty members from the UK, USA, Canada, Europe and Africa. Plenary talks were also delivered, one per workshop and these can also be accessed and used by others.

All this material can be taken and be used by universities in the UK and Africa where masters or phd students can view and listen advanced lectures in mathematics.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Education,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Healthcare

URL https://www.icms.org.uk/events/workshops/UKAPASI
 
Description Training of early career fellows in Sub-Saharan Africa will enhance the fellows' career pathways and choices. Many of these are contributing to their home countries' human infrastructure development which leads directly to economic contributions to through job creation, education and research.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Machine Learning Training for Length of Stay Project: Predicting Length of Stay on NHS Mental Health Adult Inpatient Wards Using Machine Learning
Amount £53,763 (GBP)
Funding ID Piddle: 10316 
Organisation Health Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2020 
End 01/2022
 
Description University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP) Collaborative Project Proposal for Phase 2 of the University Staff Doctoral Programme (USDP): Building Capacity in Applied Mathematics (USDP-BCAM),
Amount R 6,250,000 (ZAR)
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2021 
End 12/2026
 
Description Unlocking data to inform public health policy and practice: Exploring barriers and creating solutions for public health intelligence using integrated datasets across Kent, Sussex and Surrey (KSS)
Amount £177,974 (GBP)
Funding ID NIHR133761 
Organisation National Institute for Health Research 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2021 
End 12/2021
 
Description Botswana: UK-APASI Sub-Saharan African Country Partner 
Organisation The Botswana International University of Science & Technology
Country Botswana 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution 1. Development of research collaborations with faculty and students at BIUST 2. Co-delivery of training and postgraduate advanced lectures
Collaborator Contribution 1. Organisation of UK-APASI participants in Botswana 2. Provision of internet facilities for participants from Botswana
Impact Too early
Start Year 2020
 
Description Eswatini: UK-APASI Sub-Saharan African Country Partner 
Organisation University of Swaziland
Country Swaziland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution 1. Collaborative research with faculty and students from Eswatini 2. Mentoring of junior faculty and early career fellows from Eswatini in mathematical sciences
Collaborator Contribution 1. Organisation of all UK-APASI participants from Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) 2. Provision of internet facilities to participants from Eswatini
Impact Too early
Start Year 2020
 
Description International Centre for Mathematical Sciences: UK-APASI Oline Virtual Workshop Series 
Organisation International Centre for Mathematical Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Our collaborative network of scientists and academicians has provided the ICMS with novel ideas on how to carry out online workshops involving international partners from Africa. The challenges and lessons learnt have been passed on to the ICMS, thereby enriching their expertise in running workshops of this nature. For example, how to support participants who have internet challenges that require financial support. By identifying leaders from African countries and working closely with them, the UK-APASI team has been able to support participants secure reliable internet access and bandwidth which is crucial to participate in the online workshops.
Collaborator Contribution The ICMS had supported the UK-APASI programme by hosting all our online workshops starting in December 2020 on a monthly basis. The value of this contribution can not be measured in monetary terms, it has been a priceless contributions, without their support, the UK-APASI programme would have been much more difficult to implement, manage and deliver on the objectives. We are on track to fulfil our aims and objectives largely due to the role played by the ICMS.
Impact 1. Delivery of four workshops all held by the ICMS. 2. Pre-recording of lectures that are uploaded onto ICMS website 3. Live-recording of lectures and plenary talks that are hosted by the ICMS website 4. Reliable data management of participants and lecturers
Start Year 2020
 
Description International Centre for Mathematical Sciences: UK-APASI Oline Virtual Workshop Series 
Organisation International Centre for Mathematical Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Our collaborative network of scientists and academicians has provided the ICMS with novel ideas on how to carry out online workshops involving international partners from Africa. The challenges and lessons learnt have been passed on to the ICMS, thereby enriching their expertise in running workshops of this nature. For example, how to support participants who have internet challenges that require financial support. By identifying leaders from African countries and working closely with them, the UK-APASI team has been able to support participants secure reliable internet access and bandwidth which is crucial to participate in the online workshops.
Collaborator Contribution The ICMS had supported the UK-APASI programme by hosting all our online workshops starting in December 2020 on a monthly basis. The value of this contribution can not be measured in monetary terms, it has been a priceless contributions, without their support, the UK-APASI programme would have been much more difficult to implement, manage and deliver on the objectives. We are on track to fulfil our aims and objectives largely due to the role played by the ICMS.
Impact 1. Delivery of four workshops all held by the ICMS. 2. Pre-recording of lectures that are uploaded onto ICMS website 3. Live-recording of lectures and plenary talks that are hosted by the ICMS website 4. Reliable data management of participants and lecturers
Start Year 2020
 
Description South Africa: UK-APASI Sub-Saharan African Country Partner 
Organisation University of Johannesburg
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution 1. Development of collaborative research with faculty and students from the University of Johannesburg 2. Mentoring of junior faculty and early career fellows in mathematical sciences
Collaborator Contribution 1. Organisation of all UK-APASI participants from South Africa 2. Provision of internet facilities for participants in South Africa
Impact Too early
Start Year 2020
 
Description The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases 
Organisation London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution 1. Development of collaborative research between partners 2. Joint research grant applications
Collaborator Contribution 1 Delivery of UK-APASI lectures 2. Mentoring of African researchers in Mathematical Sciences
Impact Too early
Start Year 2020
 
Description UK-SAMSA partnership 
Organisation Southern Africa Mathematical Sciences Association (SAMSA)
Country Botswana 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution SAMSA has played a pivotal role in helping me deliver training and mentorship of early career research fellows in Africa by helping with recruitment of fellows in Africa as well as costs associated with advertising annual workshops across the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region. My collaboration with SAMSA started in 2010 when SAMSA and the University of Sussex signed a memorandum of understanding to support research and training activities between UK and SSA. I was instrumental in designing and delivering the MoU.
Collaborator Contribution SAMSA has been a valuable partner, it represents more than 50 universities across SSA allowing us direct access to students and faculty in mathematical sciences.
Impact 1. Co-organising the UK-APASI workshops at the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences in Edinburgh 2, Co-organising the USA-UK-Masamu programme in November 2020 (virtual conference online).
Start Year 2020
 
Description University College London 
Organisation University College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution 1. Joint research grant applications 2.
Collaborator Contribution 1. Delivery of UK-APASI workshop series and their lectures 2. Mentoring of African Researchers in Mathematical Sciences
Impact Too early
Start Year 2020
 
Description University of Bath 
Organisation University of Bath
Department Department of Mathematical Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The University of Bath is a partner in the UK-APASI consortium.
Collaborator Contribution 1. Co-delivering of lectures in epidemiology/infectious diseases 2. Research co-supervision through the USA-UK-Masamu programme
Impact 1. Training of early career fellows from Sub-Saharan Africa in Mathematical Sciences 2. Research co-supervision of early career fellows from the SSA region in Mathematical Sciences
Start Year 2020
 
Description University of Coventry 
Organisation Coventry University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution 1. Development of joint grant applications 2. Provision of postgraduate lectures to UK-APASI workshop series
Collaborator Contribution 1. Delivery of online postgraduate advanced lectures 2. Mentoring of African researchers in Mathematical Sciences
Impact Too early
Start Year 2020
 
Description Zimbabwe: UK-APASI Sub-Saharan African Country Partner 
Organisation University of Zimbabwe
Country Zimbabwe 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The University of Zimbabwe is one of the Sub-Saharan African country that is a partner in the UK-APASI programme.
Collaborator Contribution 1. Organisation of UK-APASI participants who are resident in Zimbabwe 2. Provision of online facilities to participants
Impact Too early to say.
Start Year 2020