Princy Ranaivomanana
MPhil Astronomy & Astrophysics
University of Manchester


Could you tell us a bit about your background? 

My background primarily includes observational and radio astronomy, which I gained knowledge of while working on my MSc Astronomy project at the University of Antananarivo, and also as a student trainee on the DARA Project’s Basic Training programme. On top of that I had some basics in coding, especially Python. 


Please tell us about your MSc studies and your research.

My master's project is about using machine learning techniques to solve problems in the classification of astronomical data. The goal of this project is to create generative models for pulsar classification, based on data from pulsar surveys such as the High Time Resolution Universe (HTRU). In modern pulsar surveys a large number of candidates are generated; however noises and radio-frequency interference (referred to as negative candidates) account for the majority of the candidates. As a result, the training data contains only a small number of positive candidates (pulsars), resulting in a class imbalance during candidate classification. This research aims to address this problem by using different approaches, such as the generative adversarial network, to generate synthetic positive candidates. 

What are your future plans?

I intend to pursue a PhD in the field of astronomy where I could develop my research skills in astronomy and data science if I get a chance. 











When did your interest in astronomy and data science begin? 

I discovered that astronomy had entered the big data era with the advancement of radio astronomy projects such as the SKA; this motivated me to get interested in the application of data science to astronomy. 


What would your dream job be, and where?

Based on my skills and research interests I would want to become a professional astronomer/researcher, ideally in a place where I could develop personally with a nice working environment. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of so far?

I am so pleased about the fact that I am a part of the DARA Big Data advanced programme, studying at a renowned University in the UK. 

What advantages do you think there are for students with machine learning skills, particularly in Africa?

Machine learning skills are now in high demand not only in science and astronomy but also in a wide range of businesses and industries. Students with these skills would have a wide range of research options, as well as the ability to transition from academia to industry if they so desired. 


What have you enjoyed most about the UK while you've been studying here?

I hope to see London or any cities in the northern part of the UK. 


Princy (4th from the left) with his DARA Basic Training cohort in Madagascar

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