Uchenna Petronilla OGOKE

Country of birth: 
Nigeria
Country of studies: 
Nigeria
Country of residence: 
Nigeria

Mathematics makes me to think outside the box

Education

  • 1999 : BSc(Ed) Mathematics. University of Nigeria Nsukka
  • 2008 : PGD Statistics. University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Rivers State, Nigeria
  • 2010: M.Sc Statistics. University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Rivers State, Nigeria
  • 2015: Ph.D Biostatistics. University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Rivers State, Nigeria

Professional experience
I have lectured in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics for over seven years now, teachings Graduates and Undergraduates.

Honours and prizes

  • State Honors Award, National Youths Service Corps Rivers State (June, 2001).
  •  International Travel Grant Award from the International Biometric Society for the 27th International Conference held in Florence, Italy July, 2014.
  • Award of the Best Young Statistician Poster Presentation at the 27th International Biometric Society Conference held in Florence, Italy July, 2014.

Questionnaire

Your story with mathematics
Can you tell us something about your story? How did you discover your passion for mathematics?
My story has not been too smooth even though I have passion for Mathematics since I was small. I discovered my passion right from home because my parents were teachers. I love to find out why my class mates then shy away from mathematics especially the female ones I decided to challenge the boys in the class.

What fascinates you about Mathematics?
Mathematics makes me to think outside the box.

Did you have a role model that influenced your decision to become a mathematician?
My father’s keyword has always been that people who solve mathematics are smart and never had a dull moment. My Dad influenced me.

Has anyone supported you in your choice and during your career?
My Dad and my primary school teacher.

What challenges did you encounter on the way?
In the secondary and primary level, we lacked some of the major instructional materials.

What is the funniest or most memorable thing that has happened to you while working n mathematics?
In the university, some of the lecturers teach mathematics as literatures without practicing what they teach.

Career and Family
Tell us about balancing family life with work life?
The bother line is planning. Always have a program for yourself and obey it strictly. Moreover, my husband understands and loves academics.

Women and Mathematics
What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome?
Very few girls in the class competing with so many boys.

What kind of prejudices, if any, did you have to face?
Some of your mates withdrawing from you saying maths is a masculine course and not feminine.
 

Tell us about the organizations for women mathematicians that you are a part of? How has this helped your career?
I feel fulfilled being part of the organization because this is going to widen my horizon because of the quality of women who has actually touched the world that you are going to associate with and also the upcoming ones. There is nothing like collaboration because there will be cross fertilization of ideas from all angles in the world of mathematics.

Do you consider it necessary to organize special programs like Girl’s Day promoting mathematics for girls in schools? What else, do you think, could further be done to support woman with mathematics as their career?
This will be a great idea especially if it is taken to the grass root like the under developed countries where the girl child see mathematics as a mirage and thereby shying away from it.

Teaching mathematics, especially to non-mathematicians, can be a challenge. What is your strategy to catch and keep the attention of your audience?
I always start with set induction (telling short stories before the class)

How would you explain your research to a layman (non-specialist)?
Try to discover how it will help in the day to day activity. Eg teaching statistics is fun, people practice it day to day without knowing. My grandmother who did not go to school practiced it without knowing. Whenever any male child is born in the village, she will mark a big stroke on the wall while females are marked with short strokes. At the end of the year, she counts all the strokes to differentiate the males from the females. What a lovely mathematics.

Can you tell us about the applications of your research, if any?
In the university, Psychiatric hospitals. (Bipolar disorder patients)

Conclusion
What are your biggest achievements, and what your biggest failures?
Concluding my Phd in Statistics at the record time which is the highest degree.

Do you have a dream? Any particular problem you dream to solve now?

Becoming a well known and celebrated mathematician in the world. Catching the girl child in my country, young to embrace mathematics.

Which advice would you give to young girls who want to engage a career in mathematics?
Determination is the keyword. ALWAYS PERSIST EVEN WHEN THE GOING IS WRONG.