Science by Women. Dr. Faguèye Ndiaye, Senegalese mathematician, joins the ICMAT


“My dream is to be able to solve problems that the real world faces, such as problems related to air pollution and greenhouse gases”

Fagueye NdiayeDr. Ndiaye, from Senegal, holds a PhD by the University of Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar (Senegal). She specializes in Mathematical Analysis, Differential equations and Applications, and works as a professor and researcher at the Faculty of Sciences and Technologies of Education and Training at the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar (Senegal).

She is one of the beneficiaries of the #SciencebyWoman program who is currently developing her research at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (ICMAT), where she studies waver propagation, such as the propagation of greenhouse gases, with the aim of minimizing the impact of these gases in a given city aims and reduce contamination. The idea is to reduce the volume of the area occupied by these gases in cities in order to preserve the health of the population.

What encouraged you to pursue a Scientific career ? 

I have had a taste for science subjects since I was a child. I was comfortable with these subjects at school. I felt a sense of inner satisfaction after solving a problem proposed by my science teachers. On the other hand, if I had a problem to solve and I wasn’t on the right track then I felt it and I wouldn’t let go until I could solve it. I made it a challenge.

So the scientific profile that was evident in my performance in science led the academic authorities to direct me into the science streams. In addition to that, my passion for science and curiosity to understand certain physical phenomena encouraged me to pursue a scientific career.

What made you incline toward your specialty?

It was mainly my academic performance that made me go into Applied Mathematics. But the fact that I want to understand certain phenomena and solve them made me lean towards my speciality “Modelling and Scientific Computing”. My dream is to be able to solve problems that the real world faces, such as problems related to air pollution and greenhouse gases.

Have you felt supported throughout your career?

Yes, first of all my parents were very supportive. My father gave me many gifts of my choice when I did well at school. When he passed away, my mother accompanied us (family members) in our studies. I also received scholarships from the Senegalese government for secondary school and university. When I got married, my husband and my family always encouraged me to continue my studies, especially to do a PhD. My colleagues also supported me by encouraging me to persevere; they believed in my ability to go far.

At present I have a research grant from the “Mujeres Por África” Foundation; this is a great support for my career.  

Do you feel that being a woman has made it harder for you? In what way?

Yes, it has made my job a little difficult. Because when I started to have children I had to take care of them; they became a priority. I had to take care of their food, their health, their schooling, in addition to managing the household and my teaching activities in high school. This meant that I could not afford to do any research. It was only when they became self-sufficient that I went back to the university to continue my studies in order to defend my unique doctoral thesis. It was from that point on that I began an academic career as a teacher-researcher.

How do you think your work can help your research area?

Researchers always have to collaborate, improve their knowledge and performance, learn about the evolution of scientific research in their fields. And I think that coming to be part of a research team and just focusing on that could help me to improve my knowledge and to be more successful in my research field.

Have you had models of women scientists or others who have inspired or supported you?

Yes, the role models of women scientists who inspired me in my early childhood were the women agricultural engineers who came on mission to the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research (ISRA) that my late father directed. I admired them a lot with their jeans, T-shirts and caps tightly tied to their heads. I used to say at the time that I wanted to be like them when I grew up and my late father encouraged me to do so.

What would be your advice to a girl who wants to pursue a career in STEM and more specifically in your speciality?

I would advise her to study science subjects well, be consistent and persistent in science studies. In addition I would advise her to consider that pursuing a career in STEM and more specifically in mathematics should be a passion and a challenge to go far.

Coronavirus: “The situation is very alarming”

How do you see the current coronavirus situation in general and in especially in Africa and in your country?

The situation is very alarming; there are many deaths related to COVID-19 all over the world. The populations are very tired; they are forced to live daily with masks and gels, and to be very careful about gatherings and regroupings. They are deprived of their freedom to act as they please and this has a negative impact on the world economy. The reception and treatment centers for the sick are insufficient or do not have all the necessary devices for the treatment.

In my country, the situation was manageable from the beginning of the pandemic until June 29, 2021.  But since June 30, Senegal has experienced a third wave, the number of patients registered per day is increasing, as well as the number of deaths. This situation that Senegal is experiencing is very difficult for the Senegalese people, most of whom work in the informal sector; they earn their living every day.

What are your forecasts?

That researchers collaborate, cooperate and join forces to study this virus and its properties in order to eradicate it permanently. This would allow people to engage in their socio-economic activities and aspire to sustainable development.

Do you think the scientific community is being effective in dealing with this crisis?

I strongly believe so. If they join all their forces, based on all the data related to the disease since the first case until today they could eradicate this disease for good.

Has this been a challenge for them?

It must be a challenge for them if you look at the evolution of medicine, science in general and the progress of technology.

Do you think there will be a before and after marked as a result of the pandemic?

It is certain that after the pandemic things will not be the same as before. There will be a new organisation in everything. People will pay attention to hygiene, cleanliness and health, teleworking will be adopted, multiple collaborations and cooperation will be favoured, people will plan their activities taking into account the hazards in order to be able to readapt.

If you want to add anything, you can do so.

I’ll close by thanking you for your interest in scientific research and particularly in women and girls in STEM careers.

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