10 April 2015 Volume :3 Issue :11

Young Pupil Enjoys Being a "Researcher for a Day"

Young Pupil Enjoys Being a "Researcher for a Day"
Miss Sarah Camp from St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls spent a day gaining ‘work experience’ at the School of Life Sciences under the supervision of Research Assistant, Ms Siphumelele Mhlongo.

Miss Sarah Camp, a Grade 11 pupil who is interested in pursuing a career in Conservation and Ecology-related fields, spent a day as a guest of the School of Life Sciences on UKZN's Pietermaritzburg Campus.

Camp, of St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls in Kloof, approached Professor Colleen Downs who agreed to let her try her hand at being a ‘researcher’ for a day. 

Camp describes her experiences:

‘I arrived 8am sharp, ready to tackle a day in the Zoology discipline.  Siphume, my guide for the day, met me in Prof Downs' office and spent the morning showing me around the Life Sciences Pietermaritzburg Campus.

‘We visited the Botanical Gardens, the animal house as well as various labs along the way. Everyone we encountered was very friendly and I scored a few private tours from students keen to show me their research sections.

‘Then it was back to offer a helping hand at the animal house. We found Eebee Ally in his office, who promptly put us to work. Besides preparing fruit for the birds, feeding mealworms to the tarantulas and topping up the water in the rodent cages, we were also shown how to handle mice, budgies and the friendly hand-reared mouse bird called: "Bird". Eebee clearly has a passion for his job, and goes to great lengths to ensure the comfort of the creatures under his care.

‘Once we'd finished the animals' lunch rounds, it was time to take our leave. We headed back to Prof's office to catch up with some of her postgrad students.  I was introduced to the plight of the Serval, and efforts to research this beautiful cat by Dr Ramesh who has been working on them in the Midlands. Siphume also showed me her work recording animals caught on trap cameras in various game reserves around the province.

‘A final trip to feed the fruit bats in the outside aviaries and a crash course in electron microscopy brought my day to a close.

‘All in all, it was a highly stimulating experience, and a lot of fun! Thanks to Prof Downs, Siphume and the School of Life Sciences.  I now have a far clearer idea of what it means to be an Academic Researcher, and what studying for a Bachelor of Science would entail.’

Sally Frost

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