Final Year Students Promote Deaf Awareness

Final Year Students Promote Deaf Awareness
Deaf Awareness Day at UKZN.

This year’s Deaf Awareness Week had UKZN’s Westville Campus Quad abuzz with games and infotainment, attracting staff and students alike.

The organising final year Audiology class invited the University community to show up and showcase their singing and dancing ability during a talent show offering lots of prizes.

The day’s activities included face painting, thee-legged as well as egg and spoon races, sign poetry performances, sign language lessons, and what was called a Spring Walk outside the campus Risk Management Office where participants planted a tree to celebrate Spring!

The purpose of Deaf Awareness Week is to draw attention to deaf people, their accomplishments and their issues globally. The week is dedicated to educating the public about hearing loss, deafness, deaf culture and sign language with the aim being to help hearing people understand deafness and the culture of the deaf community.

Audiology is a healthcare profession concerned with the scientific study and practice involving both normal and disordered hearing. It is closely related to the fields of Speech-Language Pathology, Medicine, Special Education, Psychology, and Hearing Aid Instrumentation.

Final-year student, Ms Minette Lister, said she felt the deaf and hard of hearing community in South Africa was misunderstood because of verbal communication challenges.  ‘Sign language is so cool,’ she said, stating that deaf people were some of the world’s most intelligent but were often overlooked. 

Classmates, Ms Nomvuyo Ngcobo and Ms Slindile Dlamuka, said audiology was a very rewarding profession. ‘Communication is very important and we bring change to people’s lives.  Sign language is more than using your hands to communicate as expressions and all body language are as important’

Participants received information booklets commemorating the day and reminding them how to sign.

The day’s proceedings were also enjoyed by third year student, Ms Monalisa Mzindle, who said she and her peers looked forward to planning for 2016’s Deaf Awareness Week as final year students.

‘We’re very happy that our students have embraced deafness and deaf culture. Our Discipline is very concerned with hearing and hearing loss,’ said Audiology Academic Leader, Dr Neethie Joseph.

Joseph’s research interests include investigating the use of sign language between deaf children and their parents. She said participation and communication were very important for deaf people and expressed the need to promote the fight for the use of sign language in South Africa.

Lunga Memela

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Digital Imaging to Boost Productivity in Health Sciences

Digital Imaging to Boost Productivity in Health Sciences
Learning about the benefits of digital imaging.

The School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS), is exploring ways in which digital imaging can enhance research, teaching and learning for its staff and students.

A stimulating Digital Pathology Solutions workshop, attended by the Dean and Head of School, Professor William Daniels, was conducted by external companies, Leica Biosystems and SMM Instruments at the Physiology Department’s histology lab under the theme: “Integrating Teaching and Assessment”. 

The workshop featured the use of scanners in digital pathology and digital slidebox software as a solution to teaching and examining nightmares, while there was a live demonstration of the software with participants getting hands-on experience as well as application solutions for their department’s specification.

Human Physiology Senior Laboratory Technician, Mrs Shoohana Singh, said: ‘It was important to hold this workshop as part of ongoing improvements towards teaching and learning.  Technology is ever-changing and being one of the leading universities our adaptation to this should be encouraged.’

Singh said it was essential to raise the awareness of UKZN academics and students about the useful resources available. ‘The software called digital slidebox is extremely versatile in its applications.  It is not restricted only to histology or pathology.’

Slidebox - a web-enabled learning management system enabling learning through digital pathology – boasts features such as online interactive teaching and learning; real time feedback on assessments and tests; the uploading of any file format; heat mapping to track students’ progress, and clinical case study and diagnosis.

The speakers reminded the audience that students of today grew up in the technology age. This generation referred to as Gen Y Students or Millennials, they said, had never known the world without the internet. With access to information at their fingertips, they are a generation where instant gratification is part of their daily life experience. In the education environment digital imaging provides an ideal platform for this demand in teaching and learning.

Benefits of digital imaging include:

Postgraduate students said they could envisage how digital imaging could advance their research in terms of quality of data as well as time needed for data generation.

The School of LMMS has migrated to a digital microscopy platform. Its undergraduate histology laboratory is fully equipped with networked desktop computers and an HDMI projection system. It created its own database of histology slides using a recently purchased slide scanner to capture the various images.  This helps not only for practical teaching purposes but also in archiving electronic copies of precious human specimens collected over the years.

Lunga Memela

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UKZN Academic Appointed to World Council for Optometry Committee

UKZN Academic Appointed to World Council for Optometry Committee
Ms Vanessa Moodley at the Conference.

UKZN’s Academic Leader for Optometry, Ms Vanessa Moodley, has been appointed to the Legislation, Regulation and Standards Committee of the World Council for Optometry. 

The appointment was made at the inaugural World Optometry Congress held in Medellin, Colombia, where Moodley delivered a paper titled: “Social Accountability: Key Element in Accreditation of Optometry Education Programmes”. 

Moodley’s paper, which emanated from her PhD work on quality assurance and social accountability in optometric education, was selected as one of four Best Scientific Presentations.

The paper attracted significant interest from academic leaders from various institutions globally who were at the conference. ‘Most institutions in optometry are yet to institute accreditation systems and academic leaders requested assistance with incorporating social accountability policies and processes into their respective education programmes,’ Moodley said.

Commenting on her appointment to the WCO committee, Moodley said: ‘Having served as Chairperson of the Professional Board for Optometry and Dispensing Opticians in South Africa and as a Council member on the HPCSA for more than ten years, I feel confident I will be able to make a positive contribution to this WCO committee towards fulfilling their mandate to inform and contribute to the development of policy and legal frameworks for eye and vision care globally.’

The profession of Optometry in South Africa has recently increased the scope of practice and made major progress in increasing its public sector footprint.  The public will soon have access to improved public eye care services, thanks to a first-of-its-kind ocular therapeutics programme for optometrists – championed by Moodley – currently being conducted for a cohort of 135 optometrists from across the country at UKZN in partnership with the State University of New York.

Previously, only those trained as ophthalmologists – specialists in medical and surgical eye problems – could prescribe ocular therapeutic drugs to patients in South Africa.

‘The profession has reached a significant milestone with the Health Professions Council of South Africa setting up a new register for optometrists to be trained in ocular therapeutics,’ said Moodley.

The Discipline of Optometry at UKZN is one of four optometry education and training programmes in the country and continues to align itself to a transforming profession by being more socially accountable.  It has offered Bachelor of Optometry, Master of Optometry and Doctor of Optometry programmes since its establishment in in 1980.

UKZNdaba Online

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Malawi Nursing Delegation Visits UKZN

Malawi Nursing Delegation Visits UKZN
School of Nursing staff with Malawian delegation.

UKZN’s Nursing Discipline hosted a delegation from the Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) in Malawi as part of the Nursing Education Partnership Initiative programme which aims to strengthen the capacity of nursing and midwifery educational institutions.

UKZN Nursing HoD, Professor Gugu Mchunu, said the visitors were interested in hearing more about the virtual learning programme and the blended teaching methods used by the University’s Nursing discipline.

‘As the WHO Collaborating Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Education, the Discipline shared its knowledge and lessons learned about co-ordination mechanisms of the virtual learning centres and principles of establishment of such centres,’ said Mchunu.

The Malawian programme is implemented by ICAP with leadership from Malawian Ministry of Health. The programme aims to ensure the production of sufficient numbers of well-trained, clinically competent graduates. 

ICAP partnered with KCN to develop and implement two postgraduate programmes - the Masters in Nursing and Midwifery Education and Health Inter-Professional PhD.

In order for KCN to learn further about quality improvement and assurance systems for post-graduate education, including research and distance education, they decided to form a partnership with UKZN and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in the Eastern Cape.

The delegation comprised KCN’s Acting NEPI Coordinator and Dean of Postgraduate Studies, Dr Abigail Kazembe; HoD/Basic Studies, Mr Joseph Mfuni, and NEPI Programme Manager and ICAP Country Director, Ms Gertrude Chipungu.

Mchunu said information was also shared on the roles, functions and activities of virtual learning centres and their relationship with the main university.

The visitors said their visit provided a learning platform and space that would enhance their knowledge and skills to improve the delivery of masters and PhD programmes using the blended approach for the benefit of student and lecturers at KCN.

‘In addition, the best practices learned in monitoring quality assurance interventions in teaching, learning and research will enable the Kamuzu College of Nursing to establish and enhance documentation, getting feedback from students and stakeholders and track progress of results,’ added Mchunu.

Nombuso Dlamini

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UKZN’s Paediatric Nephrologist to Present in the US

UKZN’s Paediatric Nephrologist to Present in the US
Professor Rajendra Bhimma.

UKZN’s Paediatric Nephrologist, Professor Rajendra Bhimma, has been invited to present a paper at the Nephro 2015 OMICS Group’s 4th International Conference on Nephrology being held in Baltimore in the United States from September 14-16.

Conference organising committee member, Dr Sudhakar Akul Yakkanti, invited Bhimma to share his knowledge, views and perspectives around the theme: “Integrating Recent Discoveries and Interpreting Clinical Research for Better Renal Health”.

‘It is truly an honour to be invited to such a prestigious meeting to present a paper,’ said Bhimma, whose presentation is titled: “Urinary Tract Infections in Children: A Changing Paradigm”.

The paper is about advances in the diagnosis and management of urinary tract infections in children and how to reduce recurrent infections and prevent ongoing kidney damage that results in kidney failure.

The committee accepted Bhimma’s abstract for oral presentation under conference track 2: Renal Transplantation and Immunology, after he published a review article on the topic in the Advances in Pharmacoepidemiology & Drug Safety Journal.

In the invitation to Bhimma, Yakkanti said the Nephro-2015 conference was initiated by Editors of the Nephrology & Therapeutics, and Diabetes & Metabolism journals.

 Bhimma, who has been in the field of Nephrology for over 20 years with research interests in kidney diseases in children, said his family was very supportive. ‘They are fully behind my efforts in helping children with kidney diseases.’

He said it was difficult to balance work and family time. ‘Children fall ill at any time, while research is time consuming and then there’s patient care amid staff shortages.’

Bhimma is a recipient of the following awards: Charlotte Roberts Travel Award, Nestlé Nutrition Scholarship Programme 1999, Non-Communicable Diseases Award for Kidney Disease Research in Children, and the Adcock-Ingram Critical Care’s International Man of the Year Award.

He also won the ISN GO Clinical R&P award for the Project: The role of MYH9/APOL1 variants and mutations in the development of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis in South African children with idiopathic and HIV related nephrotic syndrome.

Nombuso Dlamini

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UKZN hosts Beach Volleyball Series

UKZN hosts Beach Volleyball Series
Winners in the female category of the Flying Fish Beach Volleyball Series.

The Flying Fish Beach Volleyball Series was held on UKZN’s Howard College campus. Sand was trucked in to create two beach volleyball courts for the events which attracted 24 men’s and 24 women’s teams from around South Africa. The winners in the women’s category were Lianne Vink and Dieke Hessels and the men’s category was won by Casey Augoustides and Colin Pocock after a fierce battle in the semi-finals and an intense final.

Prior to the volleyball festivities, an estimate 2 500 UKZN students were entertained by popular hip--hop group, Cash Time. Cheerleaders handed out promotional items to guests while roller¬bladers and BMX stunt riders provided entertainment. A noteworthy event that was truly well-received by students, staff and the surrounding community.

“We had a very exciting weekend of beach volleyball action. A high standard of volleyball showcased throughout the tournament and we are looking forward to the next event at the University of Pretoria from 11 – 13 September. Thank you to the University of KwaZulu-Natal for hosting the Tournament, and to all the spectators that came through to the event," said Gary Vorster, CEO of Sports4U.

 Shakila Thakurpersad

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Media Department hosts Honours Information Evening

Media Department hosts Honours Information Evening
Dr Nicola Jones with former Honours graduates, Ms Claire Keyworth; Mr Amil Umraw; Ms Tayla Holtz; Ms Nicole John, amid final year undergraduate students.

UKZN’s Discipline of Media and Cultural Studies recently hosted its annual Honours information evening at the Jack Heath Gallery in the Centre for Visual Arts to provide final year undergraduate students with information about the honours degree programme.

Academic Leader of Research in the School of Arts, Dr Nicola Jones, explained that a media degree provided the foundation to embark on careers in journalism, communication and film while an honours degree gave graduates the all-important edge in a competitive job market.

‘Students do not just go out with the theoretical knowledge and the ability to do some research; they go out into the world with a whole lot of practical skills,’ said Jones.

Former UKZN honours students shared their experiences with the academics and students in attendance and highlighted how the degree had contributed to their current careers.

A journalist at The Witness and a graduate last year, Mr Amil Umraw, highlighted the degree was one of the reasons why he was chosen for an internship at the newspaper. ‘Out there you aren’t just competing with the people in your class but you are competing with an entire country of hungry graduates. An honours qualification gives you an added edge,’ said Umraw.

Marketing Assistant at St Charles College and also 2014 graduate, Ms Claire Keyworth, said an honours degree provided the essential skills needed for her job. ‘There is foundational knowledge which I gained from my undergraduate degree, but it’s that practical in-depth knowledge that I gained in honours, that has made the big difference in my job this year,’ said Keyworth.

Layout editor at Media24 and a 2013 graduate, Ms Tayla Holtz, said honours had helped her build a portfolio of work, and that she was especially grateful to have been taught Adobe In design and Photoshop which is vital to her job.

‘Interviewers want to see everything that you have done - they want to see your creativity in your posters and flyers and in what you have written,’ said Holtz. ‘With an honours, you get that practical experience.’

The Department also used the evening to unveil its new name, African Journalism and Mass Media Studieswhich emphasises the convergence journalism curriculum to be implemented in stages from next year.

The event ended on a positive note with the Dean of Research in the College of Humanities, Professor Henriette Hay-Swemmer, encouraging students to pursue further post-graduate studies. ‘I think our country desperately needs a new generation of people in this Discipline. You will contribute to nation building and reconciliation through the work you will be doing,’ said Hay-Swemmer.

Merusha Naidoo

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UKZN hosts Wellness Days for International Students

UKZN hosts Wellness Days for International Students
A WHIPS Nurse attends to an International student on Wellness Day at the Westville campus.

UKZN’s International Office hosted a series of Wellness Days in August aimed at improving the health of international students on all five campuses.

Nurses - arranged by organisers, Medical Service Providers Momentum Health and Compcare Wellness - were on hand to do cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar level tests as well as calculate BMI (Body Mass Index) levels.

Ms Vino Krishna, an Assistant at the International Student Office on the Westville campus, said all international students were required to have medical cover. ‘Students registered with the Wellness Day organisers were informed about services available to them,’ said Krishna.

A total of 450 students and visitors from all campuses engaged in the Wellness Day with a total of 245 from both schemes received free testing.

Ms Michele Mboma, a second-year BComm Accounting student from Zimbabwe, said she was hoping to find out basic information, such as where the closest doctors were.

Mr Iliya Yerima, a Chemistry PhD student from Nigeria, suggested the services and terms for international students be made clear on the Momentum website.

An energetic zumba display kept students entertained.

The International office thanked the following companies and individuals for their involvement: Virgin Active; WHIPS; Jade Eyes; Multiply Wellness & Rewards; SOS Optometrists; Motivational speaker and author, Mr Trevor Kleinhans; Momentum Health, and Compcare Wellness.

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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Alumni Events in Australia and New Zealand

Alumni Events in Australia and New Zealand
A UKZN alumni gathering at The Oaks Hotel in Sydney, Australia.

Three events for UKZN alumni took place in Australia and New Zealand last month.

The first was at the Mantra on Murray Hotel in Perth, followed by an event at The Oaks Hotel in Sydney, with the final gathering at The Spencer on Byron Hotel in Auckland.

The more than 100 alumni who attended met the new UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, who gave them an update on their alma mater.

Executive Director of Corporate Relations, Mr Lesiba Seshoka, engaged with alumni and assisted in providing additional information to them while information packages as well as corporate gifts were handed out at all the events.

Ms Ruth Thornton and Ms Tracy Gers assisted on a voluntary basis with the co-ordination of the events.

View a copy of van Jaarsveld’s presentation at the gatherings.

Finn Christensen

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Good Turn Out at Alumnus Lunch in Scottburgh

Good Turn Out at Alumnus Lunch in Scottburgh
An alumni gathering in Scottburgh.

Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, provided a comprehensive overview of UKZN since the merger in 2004 and highlighted current developments, planned initiatives and the importance of giving back to the University, during a lunch at the Blue Marlin Hotel in Scottburgh for alumni.

Van Jaarsveld, Convocation Executive member, Mr Andre Young, and representatives from Alumni Relations and the UKZN Foundation interacted with guests.

Young welcomed the more than 50 guests and expressed how important it was for them to connect with their alma mater. He highlighted achievements at UKZN over the last decade and encouraged all alumni to make meaningful contributions to the University in whatever way they could.

Van Jaarsveld’s presentation was well received by the alumni who enjoyed interacting with him.

Operations Manager at the UKZN Foundation, Dr Rudi Kimmie, gave the vote of thanks during which he emphasised the call made by van Jaarsveld and Young for graduates to seriously consider making a donation to UKZN.

Amid much networking and reminiscing, a lucky-draw was held with prizes donated by the UKZN Foundation. Information packages were handed out to all guests.

Finn Christensen

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Kuzoshicilelwa Incwadi Eyingqophamlando YezeSayensi Yokuhlalisana Kwabantu

Kuzoshicilelwa Incwadi Eyingqophamlando YezeSayensi Yokuhlalisana Kwabantu
Abadidiyeli bencwadi entsha yesayensi yokuhlalisana kwabantu (kusukela kwesobunxele) uDkt Mariam Seeda-Khan, uDkt Rene Smith noDkt Zanetta Jansen.

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Incwadi okungeyokuqala yohlobo lwayo eNingizimu Afrika: i-Sociology : A South African Perspective, izoshicilelwa ekuqaleni konyaka ozayo.

Le ncwadi ididiyelwe isifundiswa sase-UKZN uDkt Mariam Seedat-Khan; owayengumfundi wase-UKZN osefundisa e-DUT uDr Rene Smith, kanye nomfundisi wezifundo zesayensi yokuhlalisana kwabantu e-UNISA uDkt Zanetta Jansen.

‘Le ncwadi ingeyokuqala yaloluhlobo lwezincwadi zeSayensi Yokuhlalisana Kwabantu zaseNingizimu Afrika,’ kusho uSeedat-Khan. ‘Ihlanganise nemisebenzi emihle yezifundiswa ebezikhishwe inyumbazane kanye nezisakhula. Lo mbhalo oshicilelwe uhlanganise nemisebenzi evela emanyuvesi ahlukene aseNingizimu Afrika – okubalwa i-UKZN, DUT, UNISA, UJ, UFH- okwenze yaba umbhalo ohlanganise ababhali abaningi futho omele bonke ososayensi bezokuhlalisana kwabantu bakuwo wonke amagumbi aseNingizimu Afrika. Abanye bababhali bayaqala ukubamba iqhaza kanti iningi labo ngabesifazane.’

Incwadi iqukethe inhlanganisela ehehayo yososayensi bezokuhlalisana kwabantu baseNingizimu Afrika nase-Afrika abanesigqi  ‘Emhlabeni/NaseNingizimu Afrika.’

 Ihlanganisa imiqondo yesayensi yokuhlalisana kwabantu nezinhlaka zenjulalwazi ezisuselwe eNingizimu Afrika, okugqugquzela izifundiswa ukuze zisebenzise imicabango yesayensi yokuhlalisana kwabantu ezindaweni lapho zihlala khona nasemiphakathini yocwaningosimo yaseNingizimu Afrika nase-Afrika.

U-Smith uthe, ‘Ngaheheka kulomsebenzi ngenxa yokuthi usebenza ngesimo sasekhaya kanye nesomhlaba. Unikeza abanye ababhali nemibono ithuba futhi ubaluleke kakhulu ekuthuthukiseni ubungxube bokufundiswayo kanye nobuningi. Unokuxhumana nezinsiza eziningi zobuchwepheshe ezisekela ukufunda, ukufundisa nokuhlolwa.’

U-Jansen wengeze ngokuthi: ‘ Icacisa futhi ihlanganisa izibonelo eziningi zalapha ekhaya kanye nezase-Afrika ezahlukweni zonke ukuze kubonakaliswe ukuthi umkhakha usuguquke kangakanani okwenza lesayensi ibe eyomhlaba wonke hhayi nje into yaseMelika noma eYurophu. Futhi iyakhombisa nokuthi lo mkhakha wesayensi yokuhlalisana kwabantu uyaguquka futhi ubaluleke kangakanani kulo mbhalo waseNingizimu Afrika uma kuqhathaniswa noka-Ferrante waseMelika.’

Uthe abafundi abangenaziqu kanye nabafundela iziqu ze-honours kwezesayensi yokuhlalisana kwabantu, bazothola lemibhalo iwusizo, izwakala kalula futhi ikhuluma ngezinto ezibathintayo njengamanje ezimweni abakuzo.

‘Abafundi nothisha bazoyithola imibhalo iwusizo kakhulu ; abadidiyeli bafake nohlu nenqolobane mininingo yemibuzo yokuhlolwa, izifundokubukeza kanye nemibuzo engama-eseyi nemibhalo eyizifundo zamakilasi nokunye okuyizinsiza zesigaba ngasinye okutholakala emoyeni.’

I-Sociology: A South African Perspective ithathwa njengombhalo obalulekile kubafundi abafunda izifundo zesayensi yokuhlalisana kwabantu. Izosiza labo abafuna ukucubungula izinhlaka zenhlalo nokuthi zinamuphi umthelela endleleni yokucabanga nokuziphatha kwabantu kanye namathuba angaphakathi kwezwe.

Incwadi izotholakala kuNhlolanja ngonyaka ozayo.

Ngu-Melissa Mungroo

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Top Published Women Researchers hail from College of Humanities

Top Published Women Researchers hail from College of Humanities
Dr Maheshvari Naidu (left) and Professor Sarah Bansilal.

Feminist Anthropologist from the School of Social Sciences, Dr Maheshvari Naidu, and Professor Sarah Bansilal of the School of Education, are on the list of the Top 30 published academics at UKZN for 2015 while Naidu is also the Top Published Woman in Humanities.

Assessing her success, Naidu said: ‘For me this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase researchers and the kind of research done in Humanities and Social Sciences which combine to be a powerful actor and resource in terms of potentially contributing to knowledge production and knowledge economies that link to issues with real world societal and global concerns.’

Bansilal added: ‘Being a former mathematics teacher, it is natural that my research is focused mainly on the teaching and learning of the subject. I enjoy interacting with students and I am happy that my hard work has been rewarded.’

In 2014, Naidu was the Top Published woman at UKZN and third overall. This is the fifth time that Naidu has been on the UKZN Top 30 list.

In 2012, Naidu was declared the Top Emerging Researcher in Humanities for research excellence and in 2013, she was the national winner in one of the categories in the Department of Science and Technology (DST) Women in Science (WISA) Awards. Naidu received her NRF rating in 2014.

Naidu whose research focus is Women and Gender, is widely published and has acted as guest editor for accredited national and international journals. She also sits on the board of the prestigious national journal, Anthropology Southern Africa.

Naidu has been invited to deliver keynote addresses and public lectures, seminars and workshops in Italy, Malaysia, UAE and Mauritius. In September, she will attend the University of Botswana as a guest of the African Gender Institute for their annual inter-institutional meeting where she will discuss her collaboration in the Young University Women’s Project. Later in the year she will present a workshop and give a public lecture at the University of Seychelles.

As one of the recently appointed Community Engagement coordinators in the School of Social Sciences, she believes community engagement can be effectively linked to research contexts as well as research productivity.

‘Community engagement specifically encourages knowledge-driven partnerships that yield mutually beneficial outcomes for the university and the community. By its very nature, engagement is influenced by the alignment of university strengths and community contexts.

‘Increasingly and internationally, community engagement is recognised as a core responsibility of Higher Education. Thus, engagement is a potentially positive force for enhancing and increasing overall research productivity as well as student learning outcomes within the context of curriculum,’ she said.

Melissa Mungroo

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Honours Students Participate in Discovery Hackathon

Honours Students Participate in Discovery Hackathon
UKZN students presenting their ideas at the Hackathon.

Four Information System and Technology (IS&T) Honours students took part in the Discovery Hackathon 2015 during which they used latest technologies to exhibit their expertise in the design and development of software.

Team Valiant comprising students: Mr Athish Singh, Mr Mishaan Chhagan, Ms Lekisha Maharaj and Mr Abdur-Rahim Kamdar, competed against colleagues from other South African universities, coming up with innovative applications during the two-day event.

The UKZN team created an In Case of Emergency  app that in an emergency can detect a person’s GPS location and use it to display information about the nearest local police station or hospital. The victim would then either have the option to call or navigate directly to that area thus reducing the turnaround time.

‘As an additional feature to save time, the user would also be able to store “buddy numbers”, contact details of reliable family members or friends that would come to your aid in such situations,’ said Singh. ‘In an emergency situation, the user could hold down a distress button, say the # key, and this would immediately message their “buddies” that they are in trouble with information relating to their GPS location.’

The students heard about the Hackathon after attending a presentation by Discovery during a graduate recruitment event at UKZN. They were required to propose an idea relating to how IT could improve Discovery’s business processes along one of three different strategies. Their idea was chosen out of 200 applicants.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Opera student to participate in graduates’ programme in the USA

Opera student to participate in graduates’ programme in the USA
Opera student, Mr Ndumiso Nyoka.

Opera student Mr Ndumiso Nyoka is to participate in the Music Opera Graduates’ Programme at the Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, under the leadership and guidance of Barbara Hill Moore, Meadows Foundation Distinguished Professor of Voice in Meadows School of the Arts.

‘This will be my first visit to the US and SMU - I am very happy and grateful for the opportunity. I’ll be able to learn even more about opera and production and the vocal art,’ said Nyoka.

Through the programme, Nyoka will be able to develop the breadth of competencies required to function as a well-rounded music opera professional and will further learn about performance, research, pedagogy, music history and music theory. This will be aligned to what he has studied at the Opera Studio and Choral Academy (OSCA) at UKZN.

Nyoka, from a small rural village near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal, never dreamed of becoming an opera singer, but through exposure at his church choir he says ‘music chose me’ and has never looked back.

A farewell concert, organised by his Clermont choir, ensemble and his group, Durban Tenors, was held recently at the Howard College Theatre.

Mr Wiseman Mkhize, Chief Executive Officer for the Clermont Choir Foundation, wished Nyoka well. ‘He has made it to the States to finalise his master’s degree! This does not happen every day and you can imagine the excitement we feel, considering Ndumiso's background. But we are proud of him and wish him everything of the best. He deserves it,’ said Mkhize.

Nyoka will spend two years at SMU in the graduate programme and believes that being at SMU will allow him to expand his career as an opera singer. Upon his return to South Africa, he hopes to expand the opera music scene and ensure it becomes recognised in the country.

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Awarded Five New SARChI Chairs

UKZN Awarded Five New SARChI Chairs
UKZN’s new SARChI Chairs.

UKZN was awarded new five SARChI Chairs during the recent announcement made by the Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor when she awarded 42 new research chairs to various higher education institutions‚ and awarded to female academics.

UKZN was one of a few institutions to be awarded all five of the positions it was allowed to apply for.

The new UKZN Chairs are Professor Deevia Bhana, the DST/NRF Tier 1 South African Research Chair: Gender and Childhood Sexuality;  Professor Theresa Coetzer, the Chair of Proteolysis in Homeostasis Health and Disease;  Professor Colleen Downs, the South African Research Chair in Ecosystem Health and Biodiversity in KZN and the Eastern Cape;  Professor Sabiha Essack, the South African Research Chair in Antibiotic Resistance and One Health; and Professor Fanie van Heerden appointed as the South African Chair of Chemistry of Indigenous Medicinal Plants.

The main goal of the Research Chairs initiative is to strengthen and improve research and innovation capacity of public universities for producing high quality postgraduate students and research and innovation outputs. 

It is designed to attract and retain excellence in research and innovation at South African public universities through the establishment of Research Chairs at public universities in South Africa with a long-term investment trajectory of up to fifteen years.

The NRF had contributed more than R340 million to the research projects of female scientists in 2014 alone; and‚ since 2002‚ supported more than 18 000 women in obtaining their postgraduate qualifications.

The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) was established in 2006 by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Research Chairs are established at the Tier 1 or Tier 2 level based on the candidate’s research track record and standing and postgraduate student and postdoctoral fellow training track record. Tier 1 Chairs are for established researchers that are recognised internationally as a leader in their field and/or have received international recognition for their research contributions. Tier 2 Chairs are for established researchers, with a potential to achieve international recognition for their research contributions in the next five to ten years.

Professor Deevia Bhana

Education Academic gets SARChI Chair in Gender and Childhood Sexuality

Professor Deevia Bhana of the School of Education has been awarded the DST/NRF Tier 1 South African Research Chair: Gender and Childhood Sexuality. Tier 1 Chairs according to the NRF are ‘internationally recognised as leaders in their field and have received substantial international recognition for their research contributions’. 

This SARCHI in Gender and Childhood Sexuality: violence, inequalities and schooling is an area of high relevance both for theory and policy especially in the context of gender/sexual violence, AIDS, teenage pregnancy, homophobia, structural inequalities and young people’s right as sexual agents. 

Gender and childhood sexuality are long considered to be of critical importance in understanding and addressing male power, sexual violence, heterosexual domination, relationship dynamics and young women’s vulnerability to HIV. The unending cycle of gender and sexual inequalities are exacerbated by structural conditions and cultural norms which impacts upon safety and school safety in particular. 

The Chair aims to produce top level research output with policy relevance in analysing and documenting the ways in which childhood sexualities and gender are experienced, enacted and the effects for gender inequalities.

It will grow a cohort of postgraduate students in the field of sexualities/gender as it aims to provide a systematic evidence base and advanced research and interventions that can benefit young people and ensure commitment to sexual health, gender equality and quality education.

Bhana has a coherent and sustained focus in sexualities/gender and is considered a pioneer in the field of childhood sexualities. She has over 100 publications in some of the most prestigious journals in her field including Social Science and Medicine, Sexualities, Culture, Health and Sexuality and Youth Studies. Her work is of high policy relevance and in light of the new laws which decriminalise sex amongst consenting 12 to 15 year olds.

She has  argued in support of laws which recognise children as sexual agents as the persistent denial of childhood sexuality prevents children from coming out to find support in schools, in clinics, in churches and temples, in families and communities which could address some of the dynamics that place children at risk. The SARCHI Chair will continue to argue strongly for an expanded understanding of childhood sexuality as we as broaden our social world.

Bhana has supervised 33 masters and doctoral students to completion and currently supervises 16 students. Her latest book Childhood Sexuality and AIDS Education: The price of innocence will be available from Routledge later this year. Under Pressure: The Regulation of Sexualities in South African Secondary Schools (whole bookwas published in December 2014.

She is also co-author of the book Towards Gender Equality (2009and a co-editor of Books and Babies (2012).She is currently working on two other books related to the work of the Chair including young children and sexualities and a co-edited book on young families and gender. She is a WISA awardee, has delivered several keynotes and was twice a recipient of the Fogarty at Columbia University.

‘I am pleased to receive the Tier 1 Chair especially as it firmly recognises the quality and excellence in my research output, the internationalisation of my research as well as my investment in and support for my postgraduate students.’

‘The Chair’s work will consolidate and catalyse fresh approaches to theorising gender and childhood sexualities, as it provides the evidence base through which to direct policy changes and schooling interventions to secure better outcomes for children’s sexual health, well-being and gender equality. When we accept that children are sexual beings, we have better avenues to address the problems that currently beset our country.’

‘It would mean better services, educational and health support that treats children with rights to a range of resources to protect them from the scourge of gender and sexual violence, unintended teenage pregnancy and HIV. This challenge underlies my work as Chair,’ said Bhana.


Professor Theresa Coetzer announced as SARChI Chair 

Professor Theresa Coetzer, a biochemist in the School of Life Sciences at UKZN, is the newly-appointed South African Research Chair of Proteolysis in Homeostasis Health and Disease.

As part of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) and the National Research Foundation’s (NRF) South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI), Minister of Science and Technology Ms Naledi Pandor recently announced the appointment of 42 women academics to these positions at public higher education institutions throughout the country.

This brings the total number of SARChI Chairs to 197, with almost half now being women. With a rigorous and demanding screening process, the drive to appoint deserving women academics saw more SARChI positions created than were initially planned, thanks to the sheer quantity and quality of the applicants.

At UKZN, five female academics were awarded this honour in recognition of their excellence in research, teaching and supervision, and as part of an effort to improve the country’s international standing in research and innovation.

UKZN was one of only a handful of institutions to be awarded all five of the positions it was allowed to apply for. These positions are also designed to enable these academics to continue and expand their portfolio of contributing to vital local and international knowledge.

The Chair positions are awarded for a minimum of five years and are renewable for 15 years, with the programme giving these academics extra capacity and resources to intensify their research and postgraduate training.

Coetzer, a professor in Biochemistry and the Acting Dean of Research for the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, has an impressive record of research and teaching in her field. Her speciality is the study of the proteolytic enzymes of African trypanosomes, unicellular parasitic organisms that infect animals and humans.

African trypanosomiasisis a fatal parasitic disease spread by the bite of the tsetse fly, and is commonly known as sleeping sickness in humans. This disease and its counterpart that affects cattle, nagana, are huge problems in sub-Saharan Africa, with millions of people exposed to the disease and economic losses in livestock on the continent running into billions of US dollars.

Research on this neglected tropical disease has consumed the large part of Coetzer’s academic life since she was working on her PhD at the then University of Natal in the late 1980s. The evasive parasite, explained Coetzer, changes its coat and subverts its victims’ immune systems, making it difficult to pin down for the creation of a vaccine.

However, Coetzer’s work, which has been supported by the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) and other philanthropic funding bodies, has been focused on using molecular techniques to characterise the parasite’s enzymes. These proteolytic enzymes break down proteins and are central to understanding parasite metabolism, and finding clues to what sustains it and enables it to disable its victims’ immune systems.

 This innovative work has allowed Coetzer to develop an innovative, simple pilot diagnostic test which would enable correct diagnosis of these diseases by identifying its enzymes in a blood sample. Research into the development of this test could also be applied to proteolytic enzymes in other parasitic diseases in Africa, potentially helping millions of people and animals affected by these diseases and streamlining the work of the physicians and veterinarians treating them.

This remarkable work is the result of Coetzer’s passion for her research, which began during her school days.

‘In Standard 9 I remember reading articles in Top Sport magazine about the biochemistry of fitness, and I knew then that I wanted to be a biochemist,’ says Coetzer.

Coetzer found working with proteolytic enzymes fascinating, leading her to this research, which has earned her international recognition and a B-rating from the NRF for her high quality research publications. She collaborates with scientists in France, Belgium, Austria and Australia.

This is not the only side to her academic life - she is also very invested in teaching and development of students. Many of the ten PhD students and 29 Masters students she has supervised have gone on to enjoy very successful international careers with the biomolecular techniques that she taught them under their belts.

She is passionate about training and retaining students in South Africa, particularly students who suffer from a lack of self-belief, and also female students who have what it takes to make a difference in the scientific and academic world, as well as in industry.

Coetzer’s female students outnumber her male students in the laboratory, evidence of her considerable influence as a top female researcher who inspires other women to follow in her footsteps.

One of the most rewarding aspects of her work is seeing students take ownership of the work they are doing, and she finds great satisfaction in her work when she hears sterling reports of how well her past students are doing, and sees them being good ambassadors for UKZN.

With her appointment to the SARChI Chair position, Coezter hopes that she can continue to be a role model in her immediate space at UKZN, and that she will show emerging scientists that as a leading scientist one can build a nucleus of support in the forging of a career. Coetzer also plays an active role in the South African Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB), and hopes that participation in the wider scientific society will also continue to inspire.

She gives credit to her family for their support, especially since her husband, Professor Dean Goldring, who is also an academic, making the demands on their family unique. She also mentioned the important influence of Professor John Lonsdale-Eccles, Professor Mike Dutton and Emeritus Professor Clive Dennison, who all supported her and gave her the space to come into her own as an academic. 


Professor Colleen Downs announced as SARChI Chair

Professor Colleen Downs of the School of Life Sciences on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus has been appointed as the South African Research Chair in Ecosystem Health and Biodiversity in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

As part of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) and the National Research Foundation’s (NRF) South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI), Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor recently announced the appointment of 42 women academics to these positions at public higher education institutions throughout the country.

This brings the total number of SARChI Chairs to 197, with almost half now held by women. With a rigorous and demanding screening process, the drive to appoint deserving women academics saw more SARChI positions created than were initially planned, thanks to the sheer quantity and quality of the applicants.

Downs was one of five UKZN female academics awarded this honour in recognition of their excellence in research, teaching and supervision, and as part of an effort to improve the country’s international standing in research and innovation. The other UKZN Chairs are Professor Colleen Downs, Professor Theresa Coetzer, Professor Sabiha Essack and Professor Deevia Bhana.

UKZN was one of only a handful of institutions to be awarded all five of the positions it was allowed to apply for. These positions are also designed to enable the academics to continue and expand their portfolio of contributing to vital local and international knowledge. The Chair positions are awarded for a minimum period of five years and are renewable for 15 years, with the programme giving these academics extra capacity and resources to intensify their research and postgraduate training.

Downs, who has been part of the University since 1994 when she started working with the Science Foundation Programme, is renowned for her work with terrestrial vertebrates which has contributed considerably to conservation activities in Africa. Her research has been featured in numerous forums including BBC Earth.

With more than 200 publications in peer reviewed journals to her name, Downs has earned recognition as the top-published female researcher at UKZN and has supervised more than 60 postgraduate students. She is also a reviewer for a wide range of international journals and examines theses for numerous universities in addition to UKZN.

Her research interests are broad and interdisciplinary but focus on the ecology, physiology, behaviour and conservation of terrestrial vertebrates particularly in KZN and the Eastern Cape. She is interested in how changing land use affects biodiversity and ecosystem health

Some of her work includes understanding the urban ecology of various species and their persistence. She has contributed to the understanding of the relationships between the physiology, behaviour and ecology of a range of southern African terrestrial vertebrates, including leopard tortoises, Nile crocodiles, various bird species and small mammals. Her research on  the effects of changing land use and ecosystem health in KwaZulu-Natal has been done with relevance to animals including Cape parrots, bushbuck, oribi, pelicans, Nile crocodiles, fruit bats, serval, genets, raptors, hadedas and feral cats.

This research has been vital for conservation endeavours, with one of her most recent achievements being collaborating on the re-classification of the Cape parrot Poicephalus robustus as a distinct species, meaning a great deal for the status of the critically endangered species. Another recent notable study is her team’s observation of the sleeping habits of Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat and how these relate to surface body temperature, revealing important information about the effects of climate change on these bats.

An active lecturer and supervisor, Downs has played an integral role in the development of many of her students who have gone on to achieve great recognition in their fields. Some of her students have been recipients of international conservation awards and recognition for their work with species in Africa.

Downs is the Chair of the Cape Parrot Working Group and for 17 years has contributed to the annual Cape Parrot Big Birding Day, taking her contributions outside the classroom and into society where they are needed by liaising with hundreds of volunteers nationally, producing reports, magazine articles, and giving public presentations. She is currently the Chairperson of the Cape Parrot Working Group based at UKZN.

In international circles, Downs has presented a plenary at the 2010 Frugivory and Seed Dispersal Symposium in France and convened the 2015 conference in South Africa. She was the Scientific Chair of the Pan African Ornithological Congress held in Tanzania in 2012 and was also recently appointed a Fellow of the International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU).

She looks forward to the added capacity and resources that will come with the SARChI Chair position as she continues to forge a path in the area she is passionate about, and which needs increased attention from scientists and society at large.


UKZN expert in antimicrobial resistance awarded prestigious SARChI Chair

UKZN’s Professor Sabiha Essack has been awarded the prestigious South African Research Chair in Antibiotic Resistance and One Health.

 Essack provided the context as follows: ‘The pandemic escalation in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global public health challenge with extensive health, economic and societal implications. Resistance emerges because of selection pressure from indiscriminate antimicrobial use. Although the nature, extent and burden of antibiotic resistance (ABR) is representatively quantified nationally or provincially, available evidence indicates that ABR is an escalating challenge, particularly in the human and agricultural sectors.

‘My role as the new SARChI chair will be to give effect to the AMR National Strategy Framework 2014-24 by exploring a provincial model for surveillance on antibiotic use and resistance, antibiotic stewardship and infection prevention and control yielding an evidence base to inform strategies for containment informed by the provincial burden of communicable diseases and/or ABR reservoirs.’ 
Essack began her professional career with the B. Pharm degree in 1988 and practised as a hospital pharmacist for three years in the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health before returning to the former University of Durban-Westville in 1992 to pursue M. Pharm and PhD degrees.
A C-rated researcher with the NRF, she has established the Antimicrobial Research Unit at UKZN and has secured several research grants for Essential National Health Research, from the Norwegian Agency for Cooperation Development NORAD, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the MRC and the NRF investigating strategies for the prevention and containment of antibiotic resistance. 

Essack is an expert consultant on AMR to the WHO Africa Office, founder and co-chair of the South African Chapter of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA) and country representative on the Global Respiratory Infections Partnership (GRIP).  She serves on the South African Chapter of the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership (GARP), the South African Antibiotic Stewardship Programme and is co-founder of the South African Committee of Health Sciences Deans. 

She is a Ministerial appointee on the Board of the Office of Health Standards Compliance, an elected member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf), a peer-reviewed member of the Southern Africa FAIMER Regional Institute (SAFRI) community, member of the Bio-economy Heath Innovation Sector Coordination Committee of the Department of Science and Technology and also serves on the ASSAf panel on Reconceptualizing Education and Training on an Appropriate Health Workforce for the Improved Health of the Nation. 

She previously served as Ministerial appointee on the National Health Research Ethics Council as well as on the National Executive of the Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa, the Professional Body Reference Group of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the Programme Accreditation Panel and Standards Development Reference Group of the Council for Higher Education (CHE). 

Her research areas include antibiotic stewardship and conservation, molecular biology/genetics of bacterial resistance to antibiotics; extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-mediated resistance in State hospitals; nosocomiology and infection control; antibiotic resistance determinants in agriculture, human resources for health and access, retention and success in higher education.

Prior to receiving the award of the SARChI Chair, Essack served as the College Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Health Sciences at UKZN and is currently a professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences.

She is also a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow who completed research towards her PhD in Pharmaceutical Microbiology at St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry in the United Kingdom. 
Her research has been published in several journals and has been presented at a number of national and international conferences.  


Professor Fanie van Heerden appointed SARChI Chair

Professor Fanie van Heerden of UKZN’s School of Chemistry and Physics has been appointed the South African Chair of Chemistry of Indigenous Medicinal Plants.

As part of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) and the National Research Foundation’s (NRF) South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI), Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor, recently announced the appointment of 42 women academics to these positions at public higher education institutions throughout the country. This brings the total number of SARChI Chairs to 197, with almost half now being held by women.

With a rigorous and demanding screening process, the drive to appoint deserving women academics saw more SARChI positions created than were initially planned, thanks to the sheer quantity and quality of the applicants.

Five female academics were awarded this honour at UKZN in recognition of their excellence in research, teaching and supervision, and as part of an effort to improve the country’s international standing in research and innovation. The other UKZN Chairs are Professor Colleen Downs, Professor Theresa Coetzer, Professor Sabiha Essack and Professor Deevia Bhana.

UKZN was one of a few institutions to be awarded all five of the positions it was allowed to apply for. These positions are also designed to enable these academics to continue and expand their portfolio of contributing to vital local and international knowledge. The Chair positions are awarded for a minimum of five years and are renewable for 15 years, with the programme giving these academics extra capacity and resources to intensify their research and postgraduate training.

Van Heerden has been at UKZN since 2005, when she was attracted to the institution because of its reputation for excellent facilities and the long history it has in the field of Natural Product Chemistry, which is van Heerden’s speciality.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, she has been involved in teaching Organic Chemistry at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and has supervised 19 PhDs and 26 masters students over the course of her career.

For van Heerden, it is this contribution to the development of people which first attracted her to the field of Natural Product Chemistry and inspires her to continue to work at it.

‘At first, I liked Chemistry because it was practical and opened up a wide range of career opportunities, but later it was the people I met and the professors who inspired me to continue in this field,’ she said.
Van Heerden’s commitment to her work is evident. Before applying for the SARChI Chair she was contemplating retirement but is now fired up to continue her research and innovation in the post as she continues to invest in the most important part of her job - the people it is about.

Her motivation to succeed in her vocation is provided by the students she interacts with, and she looks forward to the new students she will have the opportunity to work with in her position as SARChI Chair. She also hopes, as she has proudly observed with most of her past students, that those she trains will stay in the field of science to strengthen the knowledge base in South Africa. She described her desire to see a new generation inspired to be involved in research and the development of new products.

Van Heerden has seen many of her students go on to hold important positions in research and development at companies, in academia and government. She aims to encourage her students by reminding them that, by investing their skills in science, they become part of an international club of innovators and researchers.

In addition to the capacity-building aspect of her work, van Heerden is an active researcher, with more than 100 publications to her name. Her research at UKZN has most notably included her work with the discipline of Physiology on the Westville campus on the anti-diabetic properties of indigenous plants.

She worked extensively with Professor Siegfried E Drewes at the University on the anti-diabetic properties of Hypoxis and is currently investigating the anti-HIV properties of Euphorbias.

One of the most remarkable projects van Heerden was involved with during her career was the identification of the appetite-suppressing qualities of the indigenous South African succulent, Hoodia gordonii.

Van Heerden spoke of the enjoyment she gained from her work thanks to its novelty and continuous new innovations, and the people it led her to meet and work with.

She looks forward to seeing more discoveries in the field of medicinal plants and the isolation of complex compounds that can be used for medicines.

 Explaining the role of plant compounds in the development of a number of important drugs for the treatment of cancers and infectious diseases, van Heerden remarked that it was an interesting time to be working in this field, with opportunities for the discovery of transformative compounds ‘right under our noses in the plants around us’.

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Scientist Honoured as a Living Legend

Scientist Honoured as a Living Legend
World champion swimmer Chad le Clos presents the eThekwini Living Legend award to Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim.

CAPRISA’s Associate Scientific Director, Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, has been honoured as a citizen of the eThekwini Municipality for her significant contributions in HIV prevention research among communities in KwaZulu-Natal and the rest of South Africa.

The announcement was made at a prestigious ceremony at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.

eThekwini Living Legends Awards are presented to ‘eThekwini citizens who have diligently dedicated their time and skills to uplift communities and contributed immensely to developing the society at large,’ said  eThekwini Municipality’s Communications Head, Ms Tozi Mthethwa.

‘The awards aim to salute the inspirational and continuous contribution these individuals have brought to local communities and South Africa as a whole.’

Mayor, Mr James Nxumalo said the awards presented the Municipality with an opportunity to honour its legends and reflect on their distinct achievements and contribution to the community of eThekwini and the country at large.

‘We are proud of their achievements and progressive contribution which serve as an inspiration to the younger generation to emulate these men and women who have selflessly served our communities. They are products of our local neighbourhoods and communities, emerging from different walks of life,’ said Nxumalo.

Abdool Karim said she was ‘deeply humbled to be one of the recipients. Young women have the highest rate of HIV infection in Africa and as researchers we have a chance to alter the course of this epidemic and save millions of lives. It is a commitment that I hope will provide women with an array of safe and efficacious HIV prevention technologies.’ 

Smita Maharaj

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UKZN Student Wins Prestigious DST Women in Science Award

UKZN Student Wins Prestigious DST Women in Science Award
Miss Kenda Knowles, with the award she won in the DST WISA Doctoral Fellowship category.

UKZN Astrophysics PhD student Miss Kenda Knowles was one of the winners in the Doctoral Fellowship category at the Women in Science Awards hosted in Johannesburg by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). 

DST presents the awards to acknowledge top performing South African female scientists and create an awareness of their work.

‘DST’s Women in Science Awards is a wonderful way to acknowledge the great research being done by women throughout South Africa,’ said Knowles.

‘In many science research sectors, women are still underrepresented and it’s good to see the government putting effort into encouraging more young women to get into and maintain research careers. I am honoured to have been one of the three PhD students to receive a DST Doctoral Fellowship and I'd like to thank my graduate supervisor, Professor Kavilan Moodley, for believing in my abilities - often more than I do - and for all the support throughout the ups and downs of graduate studies.’

Professor Sunil Maharaj, Director of UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) said he was very pleased with the research Knowles is conducting. ‘Kenda’s research has been outstanding and this award is very appropriate considering her achievements. She is a great role model for young people planning a career in astronomy.’

Knowles will complete her PhD at the end of this year and thereafter plans to engage in postdoctoral research at ACRU.

Strini Rajgopaul

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Women in Politics and Society discussed at Seminar

Women in Politics and Society discussed at Seminar
Members of the Society of Political Science Students with speakers at the Women in Politics and Society Seminar.

A discussion around the topic of Women in Politics and Society was organised by the Society of Political Science Students (SOPSS) in collaboration with the Media and Cultural Seminar Series against the background of the recent Women’s Month celebrations and reflections.

The panel included HIV activist and UKZN PhD Candidate, Ms Delarise Mulqueeny; politics lecturer, Dr Lubna Nadvi; UKZN politics student, Mr Tigere Muringa, and Media studies lecturer, Ms Luthando Ngema.

Reviewing the role of women in society and reflecting on her personal journey, Mulqueeny said many cultural practices in various societies placed women in disempowered positions. In light of this, she addressed the systemic and internal oppression that women faced, relating it to the puller-down syndrome.

‘Women put themselves down. An example is in 2013, when the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) President, Angie Motshekga, said the ANC was not ready for a female president. We are holding onto limitations instead of grabbing opportunities. We must empower each other in order to succeed,’ said Mulqueeny.

Responding to Mulqueeny’s declaration, Muringa stated that the 21st century was the Century of Women. ‘There is the ongoing increase in gender equalities but women are to be blamed to an extent for not fighting the patriarchal system.

‘They lack confidence to challenge the system and wait on men to effect change. This doesn’t apply to all women but this mind set needs to change. Men also need to value women. Power is not derived from disempowering women.’

Muringa said patriarchy was still entrenched in society and in order to dispel the system and create greater gender equality, early childhood development programmes should be introduced to educate and pave the way forward for women empowerment and gender equality.

Ngema said women had the power to work towards being great leaders. ‘We need to accept and acknowledge our role in society. There should be ongoing constructive conversations to empower women.’

Assessing the historical power and the role women play, Nadvi reflected on the symbolism of the 1956 march relating it to the present day situation in terms of dignity and self-respect and the powerfulness and resourcefulness of women.

‘We are faced today with similar issues such as lack of service delivery for housing, education, and health-care. That same sense of urgency, mobilisation, engagement and protest displayed by those women in 1956 should be utilised to address these issues. Young people should be the agents of change much like those strong women were in 1956,’ said Nadvi.

The seminar was highly successful with many students believing that constructive conversations around women empowerment would educate and allow for change.

Melissa Mungroo

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Promoting Student Wellness on the Westville campus

Promoting Student Wellness on the Westville campus
Staff and students at the Wellness day on the Westville campus.

UKZN’s Westville Campus Health Clinic hosted a Health Awareness Campaign aimed at improving the health and wellness of students.

Nurse Precelia Gopaul said 865 students were screened and registered on the day which had the theme: “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind”.

Westville students took advantage of the services available which included tests for and information on blood pressure, body mass index, blood glucose, haemoglobin for iron deficiency, eyesight, male medical circumcision, breast examination, oral hygiene, drug education and prevention, and reproduction and STI education.

The Cansa Association did breast screenings while the eThekwini Municipality conducted pap smears and offered HIV counselling and testing, and male medical circumcision motivation.

Gopaul said students were treated to a fitness demonstration by UKZN’s Aerobic Club and manicure and beauty tips by File and Style Nail Salon.

Westville Hospital and UKZN’s School of Nursing checked blood pressure and BMI, while Spec Savers conducted eye tests, the UKZN Dental School provided Oral Hygiene Education and UKZN’s Pharmacy Department informed students about drug abuse.

The Westville Campus Health Clinic provided Reproductive Health and STI health education.

DJ China provided musical entertainment and Planet Fitness gave the students tips about physical awareness.

 Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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MBChB Student received Prestigious Award

MBChB Student received Prestigious Award
Cheshni Jeena.

MBChB first year student Cheshni Jeena (18) received the prestigious Pius Langa Scholarship at UKZN’s awards ceremony.

‘I feel honoured to have received the scholarship for the first time based on my matric results. I am very grateful, it is a culmination of the hard work, effort, sacrifices and time I devoted to my entire schooling career,’ said Jeena.

The scholarship, awarded to top performing new undergraduate entrants, is named after the renowned former Chief Justice of South Africa, Chancellor of the former University of Natal, and the first Ombud of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. 

Jeena said she appreciated the generosity of the funders in making this scholarship possible. ‘It has not only motivated me to achieve, but also validates the effort I invested in matric.’

Jeena said her family was very happy about her achievement. ‘Everything I have achieved thus far would not be possible without them. My family’s unwavering support has seen me through the toughest of times and I am so happy to have made them proud.’

She advised fellow students to remember that ‘the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it. Your dreams shouldn’t be something in your sleep; instead they should keep you up!’

Jeena believes it is important to be a well-rounded, multi-cultured individual. ‘I have achieved my South African colours in chess and debating.’ She also enjoys music and has participated in various forms of dance.

‘I think that it is important to value the small moments in life as they all add up and shape our thoughts, feelings and personality.’

Nombuso Dlamini

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