Michael Agronah

I am a PhD candidate in the Computational Science and Engineering program at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. I am very passionate about research and teaching. My research interest are in the following areas of applied computational and statistical modeling 

  • Biostatistics; health sciences, epidemiology, public health, microbiome studies, environmental health

  • Ecology: marine ecology 

  • Bioinformatics: microbiome studies

I am a trained and passionate teacher with over 12 years of teaching experience in the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of education across diverse countries and cultures in Ghana, Norway, the UK and in Canada.​



Teaching and course development

Undergraduate courses taught as course instructor

  • Spring 2023: Math 1B03: Linear Algebra I,  McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (Course outline)
  • Fall 2022: Math 1F03: Introduction to Calculus and Analytic Geometry,  McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (Course outline)
  • Spring 2022: Math 1F03: Introduction to Calculus and Analytic Geometry,  McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (Course outline)
  • Winter 2022: MATH 3P06: Vector Calculus and Differential Geometry, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada (Course outline) 
  • Fall 2013: MATH 101: General Mathematics, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana 

Research Interests

My researches are mostly interdisciplinary, lying in the intersection between Computer Science, Biology, Applied Mathematics and Statistics. I have been researching on Statistical Analysis of Microbiome Data for the past few years and have recently been working on developing an R package to conduct Power Analysis for Differential Abundance Microbiome Studies. 

Current Research

1. Power Analysis for Differential Abundance Microbiome Studies

Abstract: Differential abundance studies play a crucial role in identifying genes that exhibit differential expression between control and treatment groups. The identification of such genes holds great potential for clinical applications and aiding in treatment decisions. However, it is imperative to ensure the reliability of the obtained results. This necessitates the use of power analysis to determine the reliability of significance results obtained in a differential abundance studies. We propose a novel framework for simulating microbiome count data based on actual data and demonstrate that the average power reported in the literature for differential abundance studies might be overestimated. Our framework allows for the estimation of required sample sizes to achieve desired power levels and calculation of the expected number of significant Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) in a given study design. By providing a framework and simulation-based evidence, we contribute to advancing the field’s understanding of power analysis and its implications for the accurate interpretation of results. 

2. Longitudinal Analysis of Microbiome Data including Correlation Structure

Human microbiome is dynamic in nature. Understanding the dynamics in longitudinal microbiome datacan help explain the mechanisms that underpin human health and disease. However, analysing longitudinal microbiome data, whether 16S rRNA or metagenome shotgun, is challenging. Along with the difficulties presented by the characteristics of microbiome data such as sparsity, overdispersion, and compositionality, repeated measure introduces correlation between observations from the same individual at different time points. The majority of methods used in the literature to analyse longitudinal microbiome data only model one taxon at a single time point and do not handle the correlation structure between individual taxa across time. In this work, a multivariate Negative Binomial Generalized Mixed Model (MVNBMM) is proposed for analyzing longitudinal microbiome data. A special feature of MVNBMM is that is can handle the correlation structure of individual taxa over time. Modelling the correlation between repeated measures in individual samples is however, very challenging because the number of parameter to be estimated for a negative binomial model is computationally expensive and almost impossible for microbiome dataset which is typically of high dimensionality. In this project, a reduced rank method, which reduces the number of parameter estimates is used for modelling the correlation structure of taxa.

1.Modelling Temporal Scales and Patterns of Population Variability
The research develops a stage-structured population dynamic models based on ordinary differential
equations for modelling fish stock dynamic. The model is applied to study the population dynamics
of mature and immature Barents Sea capelin. The optimal parameter values are estimated numer-
ically using an optimisation algorithm which involves spline interpolation and minimising an error
function subject to parameters constraints. The Runke Kutta numerical method for solving systems
of ODEs and spline interpolation are used to solve for the model predictions. A model based on
delay differential equations is developed and applied to capture the effects of time delays on the
population dynamics of mature and immature capelin

2. Bayesian Analysis of Hemagglutination-Inhibition Data

Data obtained from hemagglutination-inhibition assay plays an instrumental role in influenza
survellance. The HI data is influenced by two main parameters: antigenic and non-antigenic
parameters. A a key problem of this data is the presence of non-antigenic parameters which
hinder a correct interpretation of the data. In this work, we show how antigenic and non-antigenic
parameters can be systematically decoupled using a recently published model and the bayesian
staistical inference

Student Mentorship

Student Mentorship Programme

I offer mentorship to graduate and undergraduate students in Canada, with a particular focus on supporting students from minority groups. This mentorship programme is an informal session and involves a once a month meeting over “coffee or tea” to chat about your academic journey and receive guidance from me.  You may contact me via email if you are looking for an opportunity to be mentored.

Previous Student Mentorship

I have been involved in student pastoral care at the High school level where I mentored students to undertake community projects and competitions. 

Outreach activities

Math Help Support

The goal of this service is to give undergraduate, graduate, and high school students free support. My main objective is to improve Black and Indigenous pupils’ access to education and to pique their interest in mathematics. My objective is to cultivate a cooperative atmosphere wherein students enrolled in comparable courses can assist one another during their academic pursuits. Please don’t hesitate to email me if you are a student interested in working as a tutor.

Please fill out the form below if you require help with any mathematical topic:   After quickly reviewing your submission, we’ll get in touch with you to provide the assistance you need.

Past outreach activities

I was involved in an outreach program to advocate for mathematics education in rural areas in Cape-Coast Ghana

Grants and Awards

  1. January 2021-present: McMaster University Graduate and Research Scholarship ($28,572.60 per year)
  2. August 2018-June 2019: Sussex University Teacher Training Scholarship ($28,623.18 per year)
  3. August 2015-June 2017: Norwegian Quota Scheme University Scholarship ($12374 per year
  4. August 2014-June 2015: African Institute for Mathematical Sciences Scholarship ($3,000 per year)

Service and organization

Professional memberships:

  1. June 2023-present: Member of the Statistical Society of Canada.

Seminar committee memberships:

  1. August 2021-present (McMaster University): Member of Seminar Organising Team: I am a member of a biweekly seminar organizing team for the School of Computational Science and Engineering programme at McMaster University. Duties involve shortlisting proposed speakers, sending out invitations to speakers, updating department’s website with seminar information, arranging logistics and coordinating seminar meetings.


I love singing and play soccer games.  

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