Canon Collins Conference 2015 Cape Town

One of the most beautiful times this year must have definitely been today. It was a cold winter’s afternoon, yet I felt so much warmth around my fellow Canon Collins scholars. I am writing to you from the evening after the first full day of the Canon Collins 2015 conference “Theories of Change”. The girl in the photo with me is Zarina Nteta. Both of us presented in a small group with other Canon Collins scholars. She spoke about her research using innovative mobile payments to bring visibility – in the financial sense – to informal traders in Cape Town by bridging the gap between these very traders and mobile payment innovators.  I was fortunate to present on my fledgling research project on representing the HIV epidemic in South Africa accurately by including men who have sex with men (MSM) in the model. Zarina asked me an intriguing question: why this research question? I told her, naturally, about how the model would allow one to assess the possible impact of using antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV infections among (MSM), because the use of this intervention in clinical trials has shown efficacy, but real world effectiveness – the effect on the population – is open for exploration. Then she asked me again and stated she understood there is a scientific reason for doing the research, but it still did not explain why I had embarked upon it. Suddenly it donned on me – this young woman wants to understand my inner motivation – my identity as a gay man who is interested in research and impassioned by a desire to uncover a possible vaccine for HIV, my childhood dream, clearly impacted on this choice of topic. I say thank you to the Canon Collins Trust for allowing me to privilege to pursue this worthwhile question. By the way, Zarina wanted to raise the question of how identity shapes the research one chooses in our group discussion for the conference. I believe most people present understood how identity does play a role, for scientist and humanist alike. In my case, with my choice of topic in public health, it certainly plays a big role and it gives me the privilege – and it is a privilege – of building my skills in this particular methodology (mathematical modelling). I am truly grateful to the Canon Collins Trust.

One of the most beautiful times this year must have definitely been today. It was a cold winter’s afternoon, yet I felt so much warmth around my fellow Canon Collins scholars. I am writing to you from the evening after the first full day of the Canon Collins 2015 conference “Theories of Change”. The girl in the photo with me is Zarina Nteta. Both of us presented in a small group with other Canon Collins scholars. She spoke about her research using innovative mobile payments to bring visibility – in the financial sense – to informal traders in Cape Town by bridging the gap between these very traders and mobile payment innovators.
I was fortunate to present on my fledgling research project on representing the HIV epidemic in South Africa accurately by including men who have sex with men (MSM) in the model. Zarina asked me an intriguing question: why this research question? I told her, naturally, about how the model would allow one to assess the possible impact of using antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV infections among (MSM), because the use of this intervention in clinical trials has shown efficacy, but real world effectiveness – the effect on the population – is open for exploration. Then she asked me again and stated she understood there is a scientific reason for doing the research, but it still did not explain why I had embarked upon it. Suddenly it donned on me – this young woman wants to understand my inner motivation – my identity as a gay man who is interested in research and impassioned by a desire to uncover a possible vaccine for HIV, my childhood dream, clearly impacted on this choice of topic.
I say thank you to the Canon Collins Trust for allowing me to privilege to pursue this worthwhile question. By the way, Zarina wanted to raise the question of how identity shapes the research one chooses in our group discussion for the conference. I believe most people present understood how identity does play a role, for scientist and humanist alike. In my case, with my choice of topic in public health, it certainly plays a big role and it gives me the privilege – and it is a privilege – of building my skills in this particular methodology (mathematical modelling).
I am truly grateful to the Canon Collins Trust.

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About writinghealth

Wannabe Epidemiologist? Wannabe med anthro person? I guess. Christian, scientist (not Christian scientist), i mean like I studied molecular biology and I part of the RC Church. I also completed a Masters of Public Health, at the University of Cape Town, in Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
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