Biomedical Sciences

Dennis Muhanguzi (MSc.IAH, 2009 Winter Graduation)

When I joined the then Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and currently the College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Resources and Biotechnology at Makerere University, I found that over six very senior Faculty members had at some point been trained and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. As such, this group of Senior Faculty members, just like anyone else, regarded The University of Edinburgh very highly.

Dennis Muhanguzi doing lab work

It is for this reason that I decided to have a look at the MSc. courses in the area of Veterinary Sciences that were being offered at the University of Edinburgh. By this time (2006), I was almost completing an MSc. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at Makerere University, but I had a strong feeling that an additional MSc at the University of Edinburgh would fast track my career.

Scanning through the programmes, I noted those that were being offered online. It is this category of courses that drew my attention because I noted the great flexibility associated with being able to study and work at the same time. As a young faculty member who was not even eligible for a paid study leave, the masters in International Animal Health was later to be the basis for my graduate/postgraduate and University teaching career.

Thankfully, the admission process and the help to access the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) scholarship were swift. This scholarship was quite handy since I was at the time not able to meet the cost of the course.

The course content (both compulsory and optional) was rich, and tailor made to the career needs of either a regular veterinary clinician or those indeed in their early research or University teaching careers like myself.

Online learning

The online learning process, which I was wary of since I had never before experienced it, was made exceedingly enjoyable, interactive and educative by the full-time online presence of tutors and their integrated use of online learning/teaching interfaces. The discussion board, for example, was particularly helpful not only in sharing varied field experiences between students and tutors but also in making the online learning experience as fulfilling as the face-to-face learning environment.

Discussion boards with global veterinary science professionals

Being able to draw from the varied experience of more than 15 veterinary science professionals, from different parts of the world in different veterinary practices, on the course through the discussion board was indeed the unprecedented but predominant feature of all the taught courses.

Dissertation

I was equally wary of the dissertation year since I did not anticipate how I would get in touch with my research supervisors online to undertake the laboratory based dissertation on the molecular epidemiology of Ehrlichia and Anaplasma species. The integrated use of online tools to contact my University of Edinburgh supervisor and the face-to-face advice from my local advisor made the whole dissertation experience seamlessly easy and in effect provided me with a very strong research background that I was later to use for my PhD studies.

Career impact

I published the work from my dissertation in 2010 in the International Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances with the help of Edinburgh Global Health Academy Scientists. I was not only able to competitively access an EU funded PhD grant after my graduation in 2009, but also to access state of the art facilities to undertake PhD lab work. Through the same network, I got scientific support (supervision) and I finished my PhD early in 2015 after successfully optimising restricted application of pyrethroid insecticides for simultaneous tsetse and tick-borne disease control. Several articles have been published from this work.

The academic advancement bolstered by the MSc. IAH has also helped me advance my career. Since 2006, I have co-authored over 20 peer reviewed publications. Additionally,  I have supervised  several  MSc [22] and PhD [02] students to completion. I am also currently supervising six MSc and four PhD students .

As a result of this career advancement, I have been promoted through four ranks from the then probational rank of Teaching assistant to my current full time position of Senior Lecturer.

Dennis' published works