#AlumoftheWeek — Khadija Iddrisu, AIMS Ghana ’21 & AMMI 2022

At the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), special attention is given to our female students. This is because we believe in the popular quote of Ghana’s famous missionary and teacher, James Kwagyir Aggrey. He says, “if you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” Even though few ladies in Africa show interest in STEM and its related activities, AIMS strives to reserve at least 30% of its slot for ladies who do apply. Their stories beyond AIMS are remarkable, giving us hope that Africa will soon get its story rewritten. This week on the #AlumoftheWeek, we profile Khadija Iddrisu of AIMS Ghana 2021.

Khadija Iddrisu is enrolled as a PhD student at Dublin City University while finishing her master’s at the African Masters of Machine Intelligence Program (AMMI).

For her PhD research, she is looking into the “Novel augmentation strategies for

improved model stability in medical imaging data”. As one excited about the industrial application of knowledge, she will be conducting this PhD research in conjunction with Xperi, an Irish company developing innovative solutions in visual analytics with various applications, including health care and safety systems. Significant challenges in processing and labelling multimodal data require new machine-learning approaches designed to optimise the computational load, overcome data loss, and work with datasets with minimal available labels. Using both academic datasets and data provided and gathered in conjunction with Xperi, this work will evaluate new methods for image segmentation and classification focusing on better management and tracking of personal health care issues. This research will also use state-of-the-art and novel models such as vision transformers, GANs, stable diffusion, and other data augmentation techniques to overcome current limitations in existing systems’ stability, accuracy and processing speed.

AIMS has been a crucial stepping stone in Khadija’s journey. Due to her passion for machine learning and its application to solving real-life problems, she applied to AIMS Ghana after her undergraduate studies in Computer Science at the University of Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana.

My experience at AIMS has been lifechanging. I gained the necessary foundational mathematical knowledge needed to pursue further research in Machine learning. Additionally, I made significant progress in programming, solving mathematical problems, and operating in a team. I have to admit, AIMS has shaped me into an achiever and a valuable inclusion to my community and Africa at large”.

The research skills gained at AIMS have been very instrumental to her achievements. While at AIMS Ghana, her thesis focused on using deep learning architectures for brain vessel segmentation. This work was supervised by Dr. Alessandro Crimi, who has since become her mentor and career coach.

Beyond July 2021, Khadija has been remarkable in her achievements. She was among the few selected students for the AIMS-ESMT Industry Immersion Program in August 2021. She also gained admission into AIMS’ African Masters of Machine Intelligence Program, funded by Google and Facebook. At the 2022 edition of Deep Learning Indaba, she made a poster presentation that got her selected to represent Ghana at the Africa Research Showcase Day. At the Ghana Data Science Summit, her poster won second place. In her quest to bring more ladies to Artificial Intelligence, she has honoured invitations from cooperate and academic groups, including the inaugural African Women in AI Summit by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and Ashesi University, where she spoke to encourage second-year Computer Science students.