Yusentha Balakrishna

Yusentha Balakrishna, MSc Statistics, PhD student

Senior Biostatistician, Biostatistics Unit, South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)

University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)

Supervisor: Prof Samuel Manda, Biostatistics Unit, SAMRC


Prof Henry Mwambi, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, UKZN

Dr Averalda van Graan, South African Food Data System (SAFOODS), SAMRC

Yusentha’s PhD research focuses on developing statistical methods for the analysis of food composition data. Nutritional epidemiology has been highlighted during the last few decades and has become an area of public health importance. Yusentha’s research will provide a better understanding of the relationships between nutrients and inherent food groupings, thus informing better consumption study results, dietary advice, guidelines and policies.

In addition to her own research, Yusentha has 16 peer-reviewed publications to her name in several areas, some of which are paediatric endocrinology, neurosurgery, diagnostic testing, non-communicable diseases and environmental health. She also has a keen interest in meta-analysis and is an author on several Cochrane South Africa systematic reviews.

The SAMRC Biostatistics Unit is committed to capacity development and Yusentha upholds this by developing material for and teaching biostatistics courses conducted by the unit. She also assists several Masters and Doctoral students with protocol development and statistical analysis. 

Yusentha was a recipient of the Building Academic Partnerships for Economic Development (BAPED) Scholarship which allowed her to complete Advanced Biostatistics Training Courses at the University of Hasselt. The scholarship also enabled her to be part of the first Biostatistics Research Group to be represented at the 2018 Masamu Advanced Study Institute (MASI) Workshop. The group consisted of postgraduate students from South Africa, Malawi and Botswana and worked to address the topic of nonparametric random effects.

Most recently, Yusentha took on the role of Secretary on the Scientific Committee of the 2019 Joint Conference of the Sub-Saharan Africa Network (SUSAN) of the International Biometrics Society (IBS) and DELTAS Africa Sub-Saharan Africa Consortium for Advanced Biostatistics (SSACAB). She aided the organization of the conference by guiding the abstract review process and scientific programme.

In her free time, Yusentha is a sci-fi enthusiast that enjoys painting and reading.