WACCBIP STUDENT SPOTLIGHT-Daniel Awudu Kwadwo Aquah
This week’s Student Spotlight shines on Daniel Awudu Kwadwo Aquah, a final year MPhil student. For Daniel, being in the Cell Biology and Immunology Laboratory is an extra commitment that he considers not only a good preparation for his research career, but also a solid platform for learning how to communicate his research activities to the public.
Where did you grow up and what are your interests?
My parents stayed in the Northern Region of Ghana and later moved to Nkwanta in the Volta Region. So, I grew up in the Volta Region until 2009, when I started my University education in Accra. I am very passionate towards people especially with issues affecting human life, especially diseases. I hate hearing the statement “Malaria kills approximately 3000 children every day.”
What were your future aspirations as a child? Did those dreams change as you grew up?
I have always wanted to be a Professor in infectious diseases from childhood, even though I had no idea in which specific disease. So, I created my email address which is email@example.com. However, people see this and think am being pompous as opposed to being hopeful. Over the years, this dream has become clearer, and brighter, and WACCBIP has been helpful. Now, I am optimistic that I will be a Professor in eukaryotic pathogens of the Malaria parasite. I look back at the fast-paced transitions, and harsh environmental training with no regret because my incredible perseverance has been proven.
Which laboratory are you currently working with and when did you start?
I work in the Cell Biology and Immunology Laboratory under the mentorship of Prof. Gordon Awandare. I started in August 2017.
What is your research area and why are you passionate about it?
I work to characterize some of the more than 60% hypothetical genes; these are genes whose products are involved in red blood cell invasion of Plasmodium falciparum. I am particularly enthused by this because invasion seems to be the most important stage in all of the parasite’s life cycle, and an understanding of this stage can help us device a therapy.
What do you like about WACCBIP? Any experience you can share from workshops, seminars?
My WACCBIP experience is incomparable to anything I have dreamt of. It is an environment where women and the minority can also thrive, and I give the WACCBIP Director 69% credit for that. This is true when you consider the fact that WACCBIP was established only 4 years ago, in a good environment for world-class Science. The international representation at WACCBIP is surely the best way any scientist can learn how people from different cultures engage in scientific research. You might think Ghanaians are the only kind and caring people until you experience the WACCBIP hospitability from the British, Americans, Danish, Indians, and people from other parts of the world. It is certainly a nice experience for anyone who is hungry for leadership.
What impact do you think your research will have in the world in the next decade?
[Professor Lars Hviid once said, “We know very little about the Malaria parasite.”] Indeed we have too little biological information to help us device an effective vaccine or an enduring drug for the malaria parasite. I hope to see novel findings that will revolutionize drug and vaccine development research around the world.
Any future plans you want to share and any advice you would like to give to prospective students?
I think the growing lack of interest in Science, especially in the developing world, is due to miscommunication. I am working behind the scenes to find an interesting way of communicating Science to ordinary people, and getting scientific standards enforced in rural communities. For prospective students, I will say that life is about knowing what you want, working at it with determination, and with perseverance, there is nothing you cannot achieve. For those who want world-class training in Biomedicine, WACCBIP is the best place.
[Daniel Awudu Kwadwo Aquah completed his Bachelor’s Degree at the Department of Biochemistry of University of Ghana. He enjoys listening to the audio Bible, and his favorite food is a secret!]