UKZN at NRF/DST South African PhD Conference
UKZN was invited to exhibit opportunities for doctoral studies and well as its areas of research specialisation at the 2014/2015 South African PhD Conference in Umhlanga.
The Conference - one of a series of three taking place in the country annually - is an initiative of the National Research Foundation (NRF) and endorsed by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
One of the main aims of the project is to notably increase the number and diversity of South African research doctoral graduates.
The objectives are to:
• increase the number of qualified South Africans for critical positions in academia, public and private sector provide a hub for nurturing peer and mentor support networks for potential PhD students increase the number and diversity of role models and mentors contribute towards development of a more equitable private and public sector workforce to service a diversified customer base, and foster collaborative private public partnerships for human capital development in South Africa.
Various UKZN centres and research groups within the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science went the extra mile to display the research taking place in the different units. This included the Eskom Centre of Excellence (HVDC/Smart Grid Research Centre), Vibration Research and Testing Centre, Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU), Energy, Food and Water Engineering Research Group and the Reactor Technology Research Group. The participants from these Centres and Research Groups were afforded the opportunity to:
• promote their activities and resources to potential and current PhD students
• help shape the career choices of potential and current postgraduate students
• alert potential students about the skills set required for employment
• network with local and international Higher Education and research institution representatives.
Current and potential students and academics from the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science were given the opportunity to interact with role models, mentors, and representatives from funding agencies, Higher Education Institutions offering doctoral training programmes, public and private research institutions and government departments.
Professor Tilahun Seyoum of the Energy, Food and Water Engineering Research Group within the School of Engineering said: ‘The Conference was very informative and I found it quite useful, especially for postgraduate students. In terms of the exhibition, the Conference participants had a chance to attend the exhibition mainly during the lunch and tea times. We managed to target and distribute our information booklets as planned.’
Chemical Engineering Lecturer Dr David Lokhat said: ‘The Conference and exhibition were a great opportunity for staff within the individual disciplines to interact with students and faculty members from other institutions, present opportunities for research and tout potential collaborations. Many of the students I spoke to were at masters level and interested in the life and human sciences. I think the event was a success in showing the strength of our College in terms of high-level doctoral and postdoctoral research.’
Post-Doctoral Fellow in the School of Life Sciences, Ms Priyanka Jha, said: ‘The conference was a good one. The event was focused to increase the number of qualified South African research doctoral graduates. It was a perfect initiative to attract students towards research and development of the nation.’
Director, Human and Infrastructure Capacity Development, Dr Kwezi Mzilikazi, said: ‘The various speakers at the Conference discussed a range of topics including the importance of a PhD in building the knowledge economy; research and academic ethics; publishing as a PhD student; how a PhD thesis is examined; and postdoctoral funding opportunities for research in South Africa and abroad. Recent PhD graduates shared experiences learnt during the PhD journey and were an inspiration to the postgraduate students.’