GhScientific is the Voice of Ghana’s Science Community – Hephzi Angela Tagoe

GhScientific is the Voice of Ghana’s Science Community – Hephzi Angela Tagoe
8 min read

Over the past decades, economic corruption in Africa has led to the decline of government structures and resources for science education. Furthermore, we can argue that science education is based on curricula isolated from African societal problems. Such education is inapt to African society. Sadly, this is also encouraged by rote learning that does not engage science in everyday practice and culture.

As Africans, we have not realized the full potential of using science to improve the daily existence of African people. We need to identify the need to promote, develop and sustain a favourable problem-solving science culture if we are to narrow development gaps. If we fail to do so, Africa will continue to be just a marketplace for cheap labour, raw materials and imported goods. We will also continue to rely on foreign technology and aid on imposed terms.

Today we feature Hephzi Angela Naa Ameley Tagoe, co-founder of GhScientific – Ghana’s Science community connecting scientists and focusing on science communication and public engagement with science whiles contributing to improving and supplementing theoretical curricula with practical science.

Hephzi Angela Naa Ameley Tagoe, Immunologist & co-founder of GhScientific

Angela is a Ghanaian Immunologist from Abola near Jamestown in Accra. She had her secondary school education at Holy Child School in Cape Coast after which she relocated to the United Kingdom. She has a degree in Biomedical Science and a Masters in Pharmaceutical Science with management studies and is currently on a PhD program at the Institute of Child Health, University College London.

  • Why Immunology?

“I’ve narrowed my interest to Immunology with a specialty in Skin Biology. More specifically, I’m looking into a condition called Ichthyosis and using it as a model to find out what causes the dry scaly and sometimes itchy outer appearance that people who suffer from skin conditions usually exhibit. It’ll be great to say I always wanted to be an Immunologist with a focus on Skin Biology but truth is, it was during my year at Cambridge as a research student that my supervisor inspired me to initially go down the research route. He was young with so much passion and enthusiasm for his research, it was infectious. At the end of my time there, my mind was made up and I proceeded to opt for Immunology in my final year. Pharmaceutics came about after working in a couple of industries that serviced the pharmaceutical and research sectors and I wanted to know how drugs got to the shops. I now have a full picture of the bench to bedside concept, from the initial research stage, through to drug development, regulations and the final patient endpoint, and this is great.”

  • What would you consider as your greatest achievements?

“During my late teen years, a male friend of the family advised me to read ‘You can have it all’ – by Mary Kay Ash. It was one of the best advice I had at that stage because I went through life from then on with the mindset that I could have it all. The first achievement for me is the ability to juggle family life with my career whiles pursuing my love for public engagement with science. Obviously I can’t take sole credit for this. I do thank God for the gift of family and a supportive spouse and for the strength and favor to pursue my dreams. I mention this first because a lot of the young girls I interact with ask how wanting to have a family can affect their choices so it is important that fellow ladies out there know it is possible. 

Next are GhScientific and the SHAPE project. 

One other achievement is being able to organize a regional science fair and to keep it running. This will be the third year of organizing the annual Big Biology Day in Essex. There are always lessons to be learnt but it gets better.

In the science community, getting a grant is worth toasting to, and I have secured three in the last year, one of which went into developing my own activity which can be rolled out to schools and used at science fairs etc. It’s always encouraging whenever someone you don’t know contacts you to give a talk, advice or support an event.

Finally, with God being at the center of what I do, being a trustee at my place of worship means a lot to me.”

  • What is the purpose behind GhScientific?

GhScientific

“GhScientific is the voice of Ghana’s Science community connecting scientists and their work from the bench/lab to the community. The organization started in 2014 when my brother finished his PhD in Neuroscience and was looking at his options in Ghana. Being outside the country, the first point of call was running a search on Google…and results were poor. From science news headlines, to institutional research, trends, job adverts, professional bodies etc, results were very scanty. That’s when the idea came up to have a platform that will serve as the country’s STEM hub. Like any start-up, we are still evolving however our short term goal is to be a membership organization unifying scientists at all levels in their career including STEM organizations to work together towards the advancement of STEM in the country. In the long term we aim to be the country’s STEM hub, the vision with which the organization was started.”

  • What opportunities do you provide through GhScientific?

“Aside our public engagement with science projects, we have an annual science themed writing competition. We also run career developmental workshops such as presentation skills and have started to offer services such as proofreading, CV clinics, career counselling and statistical analysis. We will be rolling out our membership scheme later this year where funding opportunities will be available for members to assess. Also, if anyone is looking to harness their scientific writing at whatever stage of their scientific career including students, we welcome guest blog posts on our page where our editors will support and work with you if needed to tell your story of interest professionally.”

  • Has all the noise on encouraging Women in STEM died down? What can be done to keep encouraging our women?

“Women in STEM is a global campaign so I wouldn’t say it’s died down. The priority varies between continents and countries though. So when we look at Africa for example, countries like Kenya, South Africa and Mauritius seem to be doing more than countries like Ghana. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Where Africa contributes to under 3% of the world’s Science and Technology industry, I think emphasis should be placed on promoting STEM education in general at the same time encouraging our girls to consider taking up careers in these fields and not let the Women in STEM agenda take away from the general STEM education message. The two can go hand in hand. What we need to do is encourage and support individuals like yourself and organizations like Levers in Heels and Tech Needs Girls to continue the momentum and for the nation as a whole to showcase our female role models without making it seem like a special case but embrace them as part of the norm so the younger generation don’t think twice about being in similar positions.”

  • Any plans for the future?

“I’ve got a couple years to round up my PhD after which I plan to work full time on GhScientific. However, I try not to get ahead of myself in terms of future goals and plans as things are changing all the time. I can say that I’m looking forward to getting back home and giving my kids the Ghanaian experience.”