Oxford sojourn for MSc graduand MBewu

12 December 2012

His dad is former director of the Medical Research Council, and his mom is a researcher in public health at the University of the Western Cape. Now he is graduating with an MSc in applied mathematics.

To top this, MBewu is now studying computational biology at Oxford in a course called the Life Sciences Interface. The course is for students from a physical sciences background, and provides a background to basic biology and computational biology before they embark on a PhD in a specific research area.

"I'm not 100% sure what my research topic will be, but it will probably be in modelling molecular pathways in the cell; that is, modelling chemical reactions within the cell using differential equations with a view to identifying the effects of all these pathways on the eventual behaviour of the cell," said MBewu. "This is really important, because there are myriad chemical reactions in the cell, and it's crucial to model these mathematically to analyse a large number of these dynamics."

He may also opt for research more closely linked to his MSc project at UCT with Professor Daya Reddy and Dr Sebastian Skatulla. His MSc entailed mechanically modelling the heart, following damage to the heart tissue.

"There's a large group here in Oxford with software that accurately models the electrophysiology (electrochemical dynamics) within the heart, and they are currently extending their work to include the mechanics of the heart," MBewu explains
With his family background, he has always been exposed to health issues.

"But this (particular) field is really exciting, because it gives me an opportunity to combine my love for mathematics and computing with the wonder and complexity of biology."

With imaging technologies becoming ever more accurate and refined, he says we are "closer than ever to unlocking the mysteries of what makes life tick".

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