The Phenomenal Paul Azunre: A Profile of NSMQ 2002 Champion


“Desist from comparing yourself to anyone else. Every journey is unique, with a unique starting point and a unique destination. Be helpful and kind towards one another along this journey — it really does come around.”

– Dr. Paul Azunre, NSMQ 2002 Champion

Scientist, Engineer, Author, Producer … these are the words that Dr. Paul Azunre, a.k.a. Dr. Pushkin, uses to describe himself. After nearly 20 years since he captained the Opoku Ware School team to victory in the NSMQ 2002, fans of the show still remember his brilliance.

Life after OWASS
After secondary school, Paul left for the US, where he read two undergraduate degrees in Engineering and Economics at Swarthmore College, a Master’s degree in Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a PhD in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science again at MIT.

Career Path
Dr Azunre is an expert in optimization and machine learning. He has written software for a number of companies including Dun & Bradstreet, Oracle, MathWorks and a number of innovative startups. He has also performed fundamental Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning research as a Principal Investigator (P.I.) for the US Department of Defence agency DARPA.
In his dissertation, he developed algorithms that take away a lot of guesswork out of the process of designing optical systems — his thesis work resulted in an improved solution for reducing reflections from solar panels making them more efficient.
Dr Azunre founded Algorine, Inc. and Algorine Ghana Ltd, where he serves as Chief Architect. Algorine is a research laboratory spun out of MIT to seek high impact applications of his dissertation work and related technologies, with branches in Ghana and USA. He also co-founded Ghana NLP – an Open Source Initiative focused on Natural Language Processing (NLP) of Ghanaian Languages & its Applications to Local Problems.

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Dr. Pushkin and Music
Going by the name Dr Pushkin, Paul Azunre exhibits his ingenuity and versatility as a creative rap artiste through his socially-conscious and infectious music. Dr. Pushkin is part of the underground hip-hop, R&B and Afrobeats/Afropop/Afro Hip Hop group – Isolirium, with roots in Ghana, Russia, and Austin, TX, USA. Isolirium is composed of Dr. Pushkin and Ataman Nikita. Their music reflects their multicultural roots, drawing on themes from across ideologies and cultures, in an attempt to unite us as one. Dr. Pushkin likes to innovate, inventing video technologies and experimenting with audio innovations in his art, sometimes creatively incorporating Artificial Intelligence and related technologies.

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Future Plans and Legacy
Naturally drawn to problem-solving, Dr. Paul Azunre hopes to use his life’s work in AI/ML to contribute to the AI revolution at home and help achieve drastic improvements to quality of life in areas ranging from medical, security, agriculture and beyond. His book “Transfer Learning for Natural Language Processing” is one part of this effort. As a musician, his lyrical content attempts to contribute to positive societal change and evokes the social consciousness of Pan-African thinkers such as Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela.


Find out more about Dr. Azunre’s life and works via his website, where you can find a list of his social profiles for getting in touch, and catch our maiden Instagram Live session with Dr. Paul Azunre on Saturday 23rd May, 2020 at 6pm