Phd Graduate Involved in Cutting Edge Research
PhD graduate Dr Kate Akerman is at the forefront of cutting edge research in Chemistry with her focus being on the “synthesis and characterisation of gold (III) macrocyclic complexes as targeted anti-cancer agents”.
As drug resistance against chemotherapeutic agents currently in clinical use increases, the need to develop new drugs with different cellular targets is necessary. Including the gold (III) ion in new drugs has changed their mechanism of action which is expected to overcome the problem of drug resistance. The new drugs have proven to be effective anti-cancer agents and have been patented.
Akerman says she enjoyed chemistry from her very first year at university as seeing how the principles of chemistry underpin so many different areas of research fascinated her.
Her Lecturer at the time, Dr Murray Low, fostered this interest and encouraged her to continue studying in the field.
Akerman attributes her success to being very fortunate to have met and worked with a number of highly accomplished Chemists during her studies. In the second and third years of her Chemistry degree she was introduced to Professor Orde Munro who deeply impressed her with his knowledge and passion for research chemistry.
Akerman is currently working as a first year Chemistry Tutor and has found that she thoroughly enjoys interacting with the students and wants to develop the tutorship further into a lectureship so that she can be involved in both teaching and research.
She said during her years of study she discovered a variety of opportunities for women in science with many bursaries available specifically for women. ‘I encourage as many women as possible to pursue their studies in the sciences.’
Akerman says she found her PhD studies very challenging, but extremely rewarding. ‘There were several times when my research did not go smoothly but I found the Chemistry Department in Pietermaritzburg to be a wonderfully supportive environment in which to work and the input of several people always helped me through the difficult periods.
‘I have learnt a tremendous amount in this period, but have also been humbled by how much there is to still learn. I am looking forward to continuing my research so that I can continue to learn.’
She is married to fellow Chemist and UKZN Chemistry Lecturer, Dr Matthew Akerman.
- Swasti Maney