Dr. Ivy Asantewaa Asante is a Research Fellow with the Virology Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon. Her area of research is respiratory infections caused by viruses with focus on influenza viruses.
The DAAD Ghana Newsletter Editorial team approached Dr. Asante (one of the DAAD alumni sponsored by the DAAD and Government of Ghana co-funded programme) with the following questions and here are her responses.
Where in Germany did you study? In which year did start and when did you finish your research in Germany?
I studied at the Heinrich Pette Institute (HPI), Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology under Prof Dr. Guelsah Gabriel at the Viral Zoonoses-One Health Department. I started my studies in June 2014 and studied German language for 4 months, after which i started my PhD in the winter semester 2014 (October). I completed and successfully defended my thesis on December 18th 2018.
Are you still in touch with your institution/former colleagues from Germany?
I am still very much in contact with my supervisor and friends from Germany. The plan is to apply for a grant so i can go and spend some post-doc time in my former lab at the HPI.
What was your PhD research about?
For my PhD thesis, i studied the adaptation of avian influenza viruses to the mammalian host. I studied highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in Ghana and whether or not they could cross the species barrier to infect or cause an outbreak among humans who are in close contact with these infected birds.
Any specific outcomes from your research?
I observed that the H5N1 viruses isolated from Ghana exhibited zoonotic potential. This means that, the viruses are capable of crossing the species barrier to infect the human host.
How did you first get interested in science?
As a child, i always wanted to help others. I thought i would do this as i matured more, by being a medical doctor. When this didn't happen, i studied biology and fell in love with science. This field of study truly fascinates me. I am also excited that i am still able to help humanity on an even wider scale by generating important data in the lab, that informs policy change, outbreak response and treatment.
Is there a future for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education for the girl-child in Ghana?
This COVID-19 pandemic has pushed several professions to the fore front and a lot of people have come to realize that science is indeed important. A lot of women/girls have expressed their desire to pursue the sciences so that they can help in such situations. I believe there is a bright future for STEM education for the girl-child in Ghana.
Your advice to the next-generation Ghanaian scientist will be….
To the next-generation, study hard, stay true to your field, work hard. There are no short cuts, keep your head down and pay your dues. All the very best!