Johan Ferreira named one of SA Top 200 young South Africans

Posted on June 28, 2016

A lecturer in Mathematical Statistics in the day, an oboist at night. These are just two of the facets of the multi-talented Johan Ferreira of the Department of Statistics at the University of Pretoria who was named one of the *Mail & Guardian top 200 young South Africans 2016.

'Mathematics and music are intrinsically linked. Mathematics (and statistics in particular) relies on counting,' is Ferreira's explanation. 'The world consists of mathematics. Music is but a part of that! In an orchestra performance or a solo recital, whether you are Beyoncé or Joshua Bell, your performance fundamentally consists of counting.

Johan Ferreira may be merging the worlds of mathematical statistics and wireless communication systems for his PhD, but he is also a lecturer at the University of Pretoria, an oboist by night and an occasional rugby player.

'I am involved in a variety of activities that stretches from research, teaching, performing, sports, and community engagement work,' says Ferreira, who is also a member of the management board of two non-profit organisations in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

During the past four years, Ferreira has won a variety of research prizes from the University of Pretoria, the South African Statistical Association, and the South African Academy of Science and Art.

From 2013 until 2015 he played a pivotal role in raising more than $50 000 for uplifting the discipline of Statistics within the South African scientific fraternity via various initiatives within the Department of Statistics at the University.

In April 2016, Ferreira acted as head of the South African state delegation of the G20 Youth Summit in Germany, where he discussed South African and African challenges in global health, labour market issues, new strategies for the financial sector, and technological challenges with other global young leaders from diverse backgrounds.

That aside, Ferreira considers himself fortunate to be involved in music as the principal oboist of the Gauteng Philharmonic Orchestra in Pretoria. 'I also freelance as oboist for the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Recently I completed my Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music in oboe performance, and I am part of the woodwind quintet, Airflair in Pretoria, where we maintain a performance schedule,' says Ferreira.

'Many people only see statistics as numbers reporting on data. It is so much more: algorithms dictating how the banking system works, logistical planning of government services, underlying models of ways the public communicates – statistics is everywhere.'

Ferreira compares being a PhD student to standing in line to buy a train ticket: when you get this ticket, it allows you access to a certain number of trains that can take you somewhere you haven't been before. 'Main aim: get this train ticket!'  – Tiana Cline


*Every year, the Mail & Guardian scours the country to find noteworthy and newsworthy young South Africans under 35 to profile in its annual 200 Young South Africans publication.

Credit: Mail and Guardian


- Author Martie Meyer

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