Mathematics Centred Degrees for Sudanese Couple

Husband and wife duo, Osman Noreldin and Amna Ibrahim, have graduated with their PhD and Master’s degrees respectively in Applied Mathematics.

The husband and wife team are from Sudan where they met while completing their undergraduate degrees in Mathematics at Al-Neelain University. Noreldin went on to complete his Master’s in Applied Mathematics at the University of Khartoum, following which he was selected to undertake a fully funded, intensive one-year Master’s programme in Mathematical Science at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Ghana.

While at AIMS, Noreldin was informed about scholarship opportunities at universities in South Africa. After investigating UKZN and realising its status as a top research institution with staff who are leaders in mathematics, he elected to pursue his PhD studies there.

Noreldin enrolled at the University to undertake a PhD under the supervision of Professor Precious Sibanda on the topic of thermal convective instability in rotating fluids, and his wife followed him, registering for her Master’s degree in Mathematical Biology supervised by Dr Hermane Mambili-Mamboundou.

Noreldin and Ibrahim were faced with the task of balancing family life with their studies. They welcomed their first child, Muaid, while still involved in their research and with Noreldin still lecturing in an ad hoc position in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (SMSCS). While balancing childcare responsibilities and research was a challenge, the couple said they embraced it with determination.

Being far from family has been a challenge, but Noreldin and Ibrahim said the local Sudanese community were like family to them, and thanked their own families for supporting them from afar. They also thanked their friends at UKZN for their support, and gave special mention to support staff in the SMSCS, including Ms Christel Barnard, Ms Bev Bonhomme and Ms Zibuyile Shangase for their assistance.

Sibanda introduced Noreldin to the concept of fluid dynamics, and opened his view to fields including mathematical modelling, in which he plans to continue with postdoctoral research with Sibanda. He will also expand knowledge in the field through the supervision of postgraduate students, while Ibrahim will continue to a PhD in Mathematical Biology.

The duo are passionate about their fields and plan to pursue careers in teaching and research.

‘I believe that mathematics is something Africa really needs,’ said Noreldin, ‘so we try to do our best and give whatever we learn from our research back to our people in Africa and the world in general.’

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Itumeleng Masa