Cum laude Master’s Graduate Tackles Mathematical Modelling for HIV
Ms Edna Manda graduated with her Masters in Applied Mathematics cum laude from UKZN, her research comprising an investigation of how within-host HIV infection dynamics affect the dynamics of the epidemiology of HIV infection and vice-versa.
Manda’s work yielded data useful in predicting the progression of the infection within and outside the host.
Using mathematical models, Manda linked the immunological and epidemiological dynamics of HIV infection. This involved the design of a new model, using continuous systems of nonlinear ordinary differential equations, by directly linking the within-host dynamics (interactions between Langerhans cells, CD4+ T-Cells, CCR5 (R5) HIV and CXCR4 (X4) HIV), and the without-host dynamics of a basic compartmental HIV/AIDS model.
‘Linking the two dynamics led to increase in the viral load within the host and an increase in the epidemic levels in the population dynamics,’ explained supervisor, Dr Farai Chirove. ‘Most studies on mathematical models deal with the different infection hierarchical levels separately; Edna’s work is one of few which attempts to close that gap.’
Manda, originally from Malawi, said she was inspired to pursue mathematics by her high school best friend, Ms Moyna Mwenye.
Manda says she is motivated by determination, passion, perseverance and faith. Her cheerful disposition spurs her on and she says she is a big dreamer.
‘Edna challenges the ill-informed notion that women are naturally inept at mathematics by getting distinctions at both the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and at UKZN,’ said Chirove.
‘To my fellow ladies, remember dreams have no gender, so always know what you want; even the sky isn’t the limit,’ said Manda.
Chirove described Manda as a dedicated student who is unafraid of making mistakes and persistent about correcting them, whatever the situation.
Manda expressed gratitude to God for life and wisdom, and thanked Chirove, her family and friends, her partner George, and staff at AIMS, UKZN and Wits University’s Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Science (CoE-MaSS), for their support. She is currently registered for her PhD.