Almene De Meran Meguimtsop is currently pursuing a pre-PhD Postgraduate Diploma in Quantitative Life Sciences at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy.
Before joining AIMS, she earned a Master’s in Physics at the University of Dschang, Cameroon, specializing in Electronics, Electrical Engineering, and Automation. Her Master’s research project, which involved utilizing reservoir computing based on neural networks to predict the behavior of chaotic attractors and decrypt chaos-based cryptography, deepened her passion for data science; machine learning; and artificial intelligence. “My desire to leverage the potential of data to unravel intricate patterns, guide strategic decision-making, and contribute to technological advancements led me to the prestigious African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), where I was selected as a Mastercard Foundation Scholar”, she says.
Coming from a physics background, AIMS equipped her with essential skills in machine learning, data science, data analysis, and natural language processing. In her words, “I also got the chance to learn from well-known professors worldwide, which not only broadened my horizons to new possibilities but also helped me comprehend how mathematical sciences, particularly topics related to data science, can be used to address real-world issues”. Her research project at AIMS, titled “Learning Value Functions Using Echo State Networks,” under the guidance of Professor Antonio Celani, aimed to predict value functions in reinforcement learning settings, particularly in random walk scenarios, thereby contributing valuable insights for decision-making processes.
AIMS encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone and embrace new opportunities. Actively contributing to the institution’s diversity, she served as the vice president of the sports club, leading fitness sessions for both students and staff. Additionally, as an active member of the IT club, she assisted classmates with technical challenges. Her engagement extended to social and gender clubs, where she collaborated with peers in organizing events like the International Day of Girls and Women in Science, Pi Day, and International Women’s Day. These experiences not only shaped her academic journey but instilled in her a commitment to fostering inclusivity and gender equality in educational spaces.
During her time at AIMS, she also had the opportunity to participate in the Data Science Africa (DSA) summer school and workshops in Rwanda, an experience facilitated by my exposure at AIMS. When asked to share her experience at AIMS, she says: “To me, AIMS is undeniably an open-minded and transformative environment, and I am forever grateful to the staff members and sponsors. To those aspiring to broaden their horizons and dream big, especially young women, I strongly recommend applying to the AIMS program. While challenging, the experience is immensely rewarding, and success is entirely within reach.”