Successful PhD for UKZN Statistics Lecturer
Multitasking has become the norm for newly-capped PhD graduate, Dr Sileshe Melesse.
Melesse has had to learn how to juggle his time between carrying out research for his doctorate while working as a full time lecturer at the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.
Over the past four years he has had to ensure that his reading, analyses, writing and organising were all done almost simultaneously in order to move forward successfully.
Sileshe’s research titled: Covariates and Latents in Growth Modelling, focused on modelling the growth of a stem’s radius, as a function of tree age, as well as modelling other factors that might affect the growth of a tree. Both covariates and latent growth modelling approaches were used in the study.
Various functional statistical models were explored, including partial least squares, principal component regression, path models, nonlinear mixed models and additive mixed models.
Sileshe’s study focused on plantations of fast-growing tree species, and the climatic and genetic factors that influence stem radial growth of juvenile Eucalyptus hybrids on the east coast of South Africa.
Sileshe said he was motivated and encouraged by friends, colleagues and most importantly his supervisor, Professor Temesgen Zewotir. ‘I would like to encourage all junior academic staff to pursue a PhD part time,’ he said. ‘It is possible to accomplish this goal if one keeps working at it little by little.’