A first for the Durban University of Technology (DUT), as Dr Isaac Amoah obtains his Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Health Science through the publication route.
“Thesis via the publication route involves the publication of peer-reviewed scientific papers linked to your objectives and then synthesizing these publications to address the focus of your study. The most critical component of this is the critical overview of your publications in relation to your set objectives. So in contrast to the normal monograph, PhD by publications encourages the publication of peer-reviewed papers that will show the internationally accepted nature of your work,” explained Dr Amoah after his graduation on 14 May 2018.
Dr Amoah’s thesis topic was, “The risk factors of soil transmitted Helminth infections; a need for appropriate measurement methods,” and it was triggered by his Masters work which epidemiologically determined the risks of helminth infections for farmers using wastewater for irrigation.
“The high risks for helminth infections found during that study lead me to think of ways of reducing these infections. Therefore, for my PhD I decided to look at effective methods for the determination of helminth egg concentration in environmental samples, this was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. With the development of new method, it is necessary to determine its suitability in estimating the helminth egg removal efficiency in centralized and decentralized wastewater treatment systems,” said Dr Amoah.
The 30 year-old Dr Amoah said the main objective of his PhD thesis was to find ways to accurately determine the risks of helminth infections for differently exposed populations. “Results showed that decentralized treatment of wastewater using anaerobic baffled reactors and planted gravel filters resulted in a higher reduction of STH eggs and lower risks of infections associated with reuse. It also established that the treatment of sludge by drying over 90 days could produce sludge of good quality for agricultural use as determined by QMRA,” he said.
Dr Amoah said he is excited and proud of his achievement, but noted that it also had its own challenges especially since he was doing it through the publication route. “The biggest challenge in pursuing PhD by publication has to do with the duration of the review processes for peer-reviewed publications. Some could take over a year to be accepted and that is worrying. Additionally, the wait for consumables and reagents required for tests and experiments is exhausting and frustrating sometimes. In all it took me two and a half years to complete my thesis,” said Dr Amoah.
He encouraged other aspiring researchers to stay focused, dedicated and committed to their work. “It will get tough along the way, but with dedication and commitment you will succeed. Additionally, find a balance between your academics and personal life, this will keep you grounded on the tough days,” he added.
The newly conferred Dr Amoah added that his intention is to continue to develop himself and carve a niche for himself in water, sanitation, hygiene and health research. He would also like to see his research findings being translated into policies and interventions that will have an impact within the society.
Pictured: Dr Isaac Amoah.