Dr Sibusisiwe Khuluse-Makhanya has become the first black female researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to obtain a PhD in spatial statistics.
Her PhD, which is titled ‘Spatial Statistical Modelling of Urban Particulate Matter’, was conferred at a graduation ceremony at the University of Twente, in the Netherlands.
The study looked into developing a framework for mapping the risk of exposure to poor air quality. The focus was on statistical methods to deal with the challenges of combining data from multiple sources that differed in terms of quality and coverage over space and time.
“I am ecstatic about completing my PhD. I am just at the beginning of my research career in statistics and I hope that my work will have a lasting impact,” commented Khuluse-Makhanya.
Khuluse-Makhanya completed her BSc honours degree in statistics before being appointed as a candidate statistician at the CSIR, in Pretoria.
She continued to further her studies on a part-time basis at the University of the Witwatersrand and later obtained a Master’s degree in statistics.
She was also awarded a Mandela-Rhodes scholarship that enabled her to take a year off to attend postgraduate courses at Harvard University in the US before registering for a PhD at the University of Twente.
“Statistics is a scarce skill worldwide, let alone South Africa. With the advances in big data, data science and the data revolution, statistics is only now being given the attention that it deserves and being recognised as one of the most important fields of science needed for any research,” commented CSIR spatial planning and systems competence area manager Dr Pravesh Debba.