GENSTAT EXPERT PUTS ACCI STUDENTS THROUGH THEIR PACES
To ensure that its second-year PhD students acquire the necessary skills to perform quality research, UKZN’s African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI) recently invited Dr Roger Payne from VSN International in the UK to run an advanced biometry course on GenStat.
Statistical analysis software designed for Bioscientists, GenStat has been a fundamental part of Science at UKZN for many years. It is ideally suited for agricultural research initiatives and has features specifically designed to assist plant researchers and breeders.
According to UKZN Statistician, Dr Henry Mwambi, it is imperative to increase capacity in Biometry in KwaZulu-Natal and in the sub-Saharan region. He said the University was fortunate to secure Dr Payne who has a busy schedule and is in demand for his expertise and experience with GenStat.
Dr Payne, who holds a PhD in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Cambridge, and is the Chief Science and Technology Officer at VSN International, packed a great deal into an intensive five-day workshop focused on advanced data handling in GenStat. He said it is important to interact with users as it enables him to obtain valuable feedback on the software. Although he has been in charge of GenStat development since 1985, Dr Payne commented that the fields of Agriculture and Biology still generate problems for statisticians which make for exciting and challenging times.
The course, which was designed to be interactive, featured real-life examples and provided the students with a survival kit on which they can draw when they are back in their home countries performing their research. The software is flexible, user-friendly, is not resource-hungry and can be run on a straight-forward laptop, making it ideal for the ACCI students. Dr Payne said, he hopes, above all else, to have contributed to “improving the chances of agriculture in Africa being a success.”