Pharmaceutical Sciences Students Scoop Prizes at Research Symposium

Pharmaceutical Sciences Students Scoop Prizes at Research Symposium
Winners at the 2015 Young Health Scientists Research Symposium.

Two of the three awards at this year’s School of Health Sciences’ Young Health Scientists Research Symposium went to students in the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Science.

An investigation into the adherence and health outcomes of patients on Fixed Dose Combination (FDC) Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) as opposed to Multi Drug (MDR) ARV treatment, won Pharmaceutical Sciences students the community-based Research Category Award.

Their study found that the use of CD4, viral loads and weight were good indicators of adherence and health outcomes in HIV and AIDS research. The conclusion reached was that patients adhered to their medication whether on MDR or FDC by demonstrating a positive health outcome. A further finding was the regimen, and not the formulation, contributed to a positive health outcome.

Their colleagues won the Laboratory-based Research Category Award for a study, supervised by the Discipline’s Research Co-ordinator, Dr Rajshekhar Karpoormath, titled: “Synthesis and Antimicrobial Evaluation of Some Simple Yet Novel Substituted N-4-(benzyloxy) benzylideneamines”.

This group aimed to develop new antimicrobial agents with novel and more efficient mechanisms against microbial organisms. All compounds exhibited significant antibacterial and antifungal activity in the study and the presenters said further research would improve the scope of the development of antimicrobial agents.

The Laboratory-based Research Category Award went to Exercise Science final-year students for their pilot study which assessed the effects of repeated Sprint Training in Hypoxia (3000m altitude) versus Repeated Sprint Training (RSH) in normoxia (sea level).

‘RSH vs normoxia has shown positive improvements in power output and attenuating the negative waste product effects of anaerobic metabolism among professional soccer players,’ the group said. ‘The most likely mechanism is an improved acid-base buffering of excess hydrogen ions.’

The School of Health Sciences consists of eight disciplines and all final-year students were applauded by adjudicators for presenting a wide array of impressive and relevant research projects.

Keynote speaker, Professor Sarojini Nadar, encouraged students to pursue exciting research careers in the health sciences, saying the benefits of contributing to new knowledge were multifold.

‘We’re really impressed by the work we’ve seen presented here today,’ said the School’s Academic Leader for Research, Professor Mershen Pillay.

Lunga Memela

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Physiotherapy Students Coach School Children

Physiotherapy Students Coach School Children
Grade 2 pupils learn the importance of leading healthy lifestyles.

The importance of exercise and eating healthy were emphasised to Grade 2 Cato Crest Primary School learners who were recently visited by a group of UKZN third-year Physiotherapy students.

The students spent the community service block of their Physiotherapy programme assisting folk at the Cato Manor Community Health Centre.

Situated near informal and formal housing, the Centre serves 70 000 people, according to the Department of Health.

The students organised a fun-filled educational programme with colourful posters for the school children with the aim of making the youngsters aware of the importance of exercise and healthy eating.

Prizes were awarded to learners during the question and answer session which followed poster presentations before they participated in a variety of games promoting active lifestyles.

Grade 2 teacher, Ms Thobeka Mbatha, said the children enjoyed the day’s programme and participating in physical activities.

‘We are trying to promote fitness through exercise,’ said student, Ms Fanelesibonge Msane.

Msane said: ‘The children have TV games and watch a lot of TV programmes so do not always get enough physical exercise and often become obese and susceptible to illness.

‘We saw it as an opportunity to do an exercise session with the kids and make it as much fun as possible. It was an amazing experience and we want to thank the principal and staff of the school for the opportunity,’ said Msane.

Lunga Memela

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UKZN Trade School Using the Barter-for-Knowledge Medium

UKZN Trade School Using the Barter-for-Knowledge Medium
Knitting classes at UKZN Trade School.

The first Trade School, hosted by a small group of staff and students under the aegis of the Paulo Freire project of the Centre for Adult Education in the School of Education, was held recently on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

The Trade School movement, based on the premise of a self-organised barter-for-knowledge schools across the world, started in 2010 with a small group of friends in New York and spread to Virginia and later Milan in Italy in 2011. Since then it has reached big cities on almost every continent except Africa until this year when the first Trade School was run on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

According to Dr Anne Harley of UKZN’s Centre for Adult Education, Trade Schools are organised by volunteers who operate as a non-hierarchical collective with anyone  SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1 able to be a teacher or a student. ‘The Trade School concept disrupts the idea that only certain people have knowledge or skills, and that it is necessary to pay money to learn something. However, it recognises that time and energy are valuable, and so classes are not free,’ she said.

Harley explained that the concept operated along the lines of ‘teachers’ proposing classes and asking for barter items from ‘students’.

‘Barter items could be anything, but the emphasis is often on time and energy, rather than things. For example, if a person teaches a class about knitting socks, they could ask students to bring interesting knitting patterns, or wool, or knitting needles, or demonstrate a new stitch, or promise to donate the socks they knit to a local charity, or to pass on their skills to others. Students’ sign up for classes by agreeing to bring a barter item for the “teacher”,’ said Harley.

Dr Kathy Arbuckle offered Belly dance for beginners at the Trade School. ‘I learned belly dancing from a wonderful teacher, Anne Knowles, who started the Raqs Sharqi Dance Company in Pmb. I danced as a hobby and for exercise for 10+ years, before eventually starting my own class/dance group.’ Arbuckle says she sadly hasn’t found time to dance for a couple of years, but managed to dust off her coin belt and shared ‘this beautiful, fun dance form at the Trade School’.

The Trade School on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus this year also offered classes on circle gardening; philosophies of praxis and emancipation: Marx and Gramsci; instant fabric printing for beginners; Palestine 101; making beaded jewellery; common household herbs and their uses; review of life and worker action; myths about rape; debate or indoctrination: teaching religion in schools; basic web design, and cooking for beginners.

‘Teachers’ included academic staff, administrative staff, students (undergraduate and postgraduate), and people unconnected to UKZN. Classes were typically about two hours long, although it varied from class to class, and were open to all.

Anyone interested in teaching or attending a class at the next Trade School should visit the website: For more information e-mail:

Melissa Mungroo

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CCMS Professors Become Lifelong Fellows of SACOMM

CCMS Professors Become Lifelong Fellows of SACOMM
Professors Ruth Teer-Tomaselli and Keyan Tomaselli become Lifelong Fellows of SACOMM.

Professor Keyan Tomaselli and Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) were recently made Lifelong Fellows of the South African Communication Association (SACOMM).

They received the accolade at the association’s gala dinner in Cape Town.

UKZN Media Lecturer Dr Nicola Jones provided a motivation for the academic duo to be nominated, highlighting their achievements, success and their invaluable contribution to academia, spanning many years.

Jones noted that Professor Keyan Tomaselli’s key insights into South Africa’s media and film industry were highly regarded among his peers. He is NRF- rated and one of South Africa’s leading media researchers. ‘His intellectual voice exceeds just publication in journal articles and books, as he has shared his thought widely on countless platforms over many years in conference proceedings and appearances, opinion pieces and blogs.

‘From a personal point of view, Professor Keyan Tomaselli has been invaluable: he is always willing to mentor and offer advice, and has never been shy to speak out against what he believes is wrong,’ said Jones.

Speaking about this achievement, Tomaselli said: ‘This is wonderful recognition from my peers in communication and media studies on my work in helping to build the South African Communication Association over the past 36 years. It also recognises my life-long contribution to the field itself. To be thus recognised by the new generations of scholars is an added honour.’

Jones also noted Teer-Tomaselli’s admirable dedication to research, especially in relation to South Africa’s political economy of media and technology and described her as one of South Africa’s foremost woman media academics with an impressive publication record, serving on numerous editorial boards and her expertise and commitment to South Africa’s communications industry.

‘Professor Teer-Tomaselli has played an important mentorship role, providing wisdom and understanding in what have recently been extremely challenging academic times. She has immense respect among colleagues both within UKZN and at other national and international universities, and her students adore her!’

‘In addition, she has provided a living example of a woman who can balance family responsibilities and a flourishing career. There could not be a more worthy candidate for this nomination.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Former UKZN Masters Student Runner-Up for Sol Plaatje Poetry Award

Former UKZN Masters Student Runner-Up for Sol Plaatje Poetry Award
Poet Ms Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese reads her prize-winning entry.

Ms Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese, who completed her Masters in Creative Writing degree at UKZN under the supervision of Dr Kobus Moolman, was runner-up for the prestigious Sol Plaatje European Union (EU) Poetry award.

This annual award, supported by the European Union, is open to poets writing in any of South Africa’s 11official languages.  Busuku-Mathese’s winning poem, A Portrait of a Mother and Indiscretion, was selected by veteran poet and activist, Dr Mongane Wally Serote.

She received her prize at the event’s grand finale, where she was asked to recite the winning poem. 

‘I really didn’t expect to finish second but I feel honoured to be recognised for my work. I am a newcomer to the poetry scene and I feel being afforded this exposure will enable me to make a name for myself and to jumpstart my career. The Sol Plaatje EU award is a great platform for newcomers and established poets to come together and I was honoured to be part of that.’

She says she owes a lot of her success to the encouragement, guidance and motivation of Moolman, who she believes was instrumental in getting her to enter such competitions. ‘I chose to do my Masters in Creative Writing to better craft my skills and what better way than being mentored by established South African poet, Moolman.’

Busuku-Mathese’s poem will be featured in the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry anthology published by Jacana Media. The anthology features 63 poems, chosen from the 472, entered for the award.

Her poetry plays with the blending of stylistic and structural concerns with archival materials. Her work focuses on the relationship between generational slippages and has featured in various local poetry journals such as New Coin, Prufrock, Aerodrome, Ons Klyntji and now The Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology.

She also encouraged all newcomers to the poetry circuit to believe in themselves and to engage and support other poets and writers. ‘Success is to be found in creative writing and the Arts,’ she said.

Said Acting Dean and Head of the School of Arts Professor Donal McCracken : ‘Humanities is the soul of our University, Arts is the soul of the Humanities, and poetry is the soul of the Arts.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Advancing the Intellectualisation of Indigenous Languages in Higher Education

Advancing the Intellectualisation of Indigenous Languages in Higher Education
From left: Professor Kwesi Kwaa Prah, Dr Langa Khumalo and Professor Phalandwa Mulaudzi.

UKZN’s Language Planning and Development Office hosted the inaugural bi-annual Language Research Symposium on the Howard College campus to provide a platform for academics involved in various language projects across all the four Colleges to review progress on the implementation of the University’s Language Policy and Plan.

Professor Kwesi Kwaa Prah of the Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society delivered a keynote address at the Symposium on the intellectualisation of African languages.

Prah emphasised that African languages were crucial to African development, stressing the need to swiftly and effectively enable these languages to carry scientific and technological capacities, rational and cultivated logical approaches, and analytical and researched techniques for them to be intellectualised for the social and economic development of African society.

Professor Phalandwa Mulaudzi of the Academy of African Languages and Science delivered the keynote address on the second day of the Symposium.

Malaudzi, who spoke on advancing the intellectualisation of African languages in Higher Education, observed that Higher Education Institutions were still grappling with the implementation of the Language Policy for Higher Education of 2002. He emphasised that African languages were resources that should enrich everyone as a nation.

A wide range of papers were delivered, including: “The Benefits of Indigenous Languages in the Development of Legal Education and Access to Justice”, by Mr Khulekani Zondi, and “IsiZulu Computer-Assisted Language Learning Tool for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning of Health Sciences Students”, by Ms Roshni Gokool.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Professor Renuka Vithal, stressed the importance of focusing on research in language. ‘It is very important to develop African languages as academic languages because this helps with the creation of the necessary vocabulary and terminology,’ said Vithal.

She said the University was pleased to be contributing to corpus development in isiZulu and encouraged more academics to contribute articles in African languages to established journals. 

The Director: University Language Planning and Development Office, Dr Langa Khumalo, said: ‘In order for indigenous languages to be used in education as languages of instruction, innovation, science, mathematics and logic, there has to be a clear, concise, conscious and careful process of intellectualising them.’

Language Practitioner Mr Njabulo Manyoni provided simultaneous isiZulu/English interpretation.  The Symposium was hosted by ULPDO.

 Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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Academic Transformation Discussed at UKZN Public Lecture

Academic Transformation Discussed at UKZN Public Lecture
Professor Elelwani Ramugondo at the public lecture.

“African Vision for an African Research: What Really Needs to Transform?”, was the title of a stimulating public lecture delivered at UKZN by the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Associate Professor Elelwani Ramugondo.

Invited by the School of Health Sciences’ Academic Leader for Research, Professor Mershen Pillay, Ramugondo said South African universities were currently at best instrumentalist and at worst opportunistic rather than being sites of meaningful interpretation and true vanguards for academic freedom.

‘We ought to be both deeply suspicious and concerned when we are pushed under the guise of scientific objectivity to be silent about who we are and our ultimate concerns as researchers,’ she said.

Ramugondo said academic spaces were never neutral. Academics could only strive for honest disclosure and seek authentic resonance in their findings with those they researched.

‘At times we will offend those who champion dominant interests when our research unmasks epistemological violence or other forms of injustice.

‘Freedom to self-identify and to connect with students and communities, especially those ill-served by an unequal society, represent true academic freedom. This is what will indeed decolonise the academy.’

Ramugondo joined UCT and served as Head of the Occupational Therapy Division from 2010 until 2013. She is currently Special Advisor on Transformation to the Vice-Chancellor at UCT and is widely regarded as both a play activist and a serious play scholar. Ramugondo draws from research and everyday observations of play and the arts to explain the politics of human occupation within the context of rapid social change, and to raise occupational consciousness


Ramugondo’s research takes an intergenerational approach and negates the adult-child binary often prevalent within the study of play and the arts. She currently mentors a number of PhD candidates using case study and embedded methodologies, from critical theory or post-structuralist perspectives.

The public lecture was attended by a multidisciplinary and multi-professional mix of staff and students who benefited from ‘meaningful engagement’ with Ramugondo, especially over tea and during the question and answer session.

Lunga Memela 

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United States Consul-General Visits UKZN

United States Consul-General Visits UKZN
Ms Frances Chisholm with Professor Albert Modi outside the Rabie Saunders Building.

United States Consul-General based in Durban, Ms Frances Chisholm, visited the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), spending an afternoon with staff from the School and visiting facilities at the Ukulinga Research Farm, the Controlled Environment Facility (CEF) and the Rabie Saunders Building.

Chisholm had a brief discussion with Professor Albert Modi, Dean and Head of SAEES, about opportunities for engagement between the School and various institutions in the US. Programmes discussed included Borlaug Global Research Alliance Fellowships; the Cochran Fellowship and ECA programmes including the Fulbright Specialist Programme; the Hubert H Humphrey Fellowship; the Mandela Washington Fellowship; the Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship Programme; the Community College Initiative Programme and the Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Programme.

Such programmes would benefit both staff and students of the School and UKZN with applications from South Africa being welcome.

Chisholm, who has a Masters in Agricultural Economics degree from Imperial College at the London University,  said it had been a pleasure to meet staff and students working at SAEES in various capacities, adding it had rekindled her passion for agriculture.

After having first earned a Bachelor of Arts and Honours in History, Chisholm excelled at Agricultural Economics, receiving the 150th Anniversary Prize in Agricultural Economics from London University, making her visit to SAEES a very appropriate one.

Modi said that he looked forward to seeing how the School’s relationship with the US - through the Consulate-General - would develop.

Christine Cuénod

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UKZN Lecturer First Woman of Colour to Win Distinguished Teachers’ Award

UKZN Lecturer First Woman of Colour to Win Distinguished Teachers’ Award
Dr Jacqueline van Wyk.

UKZN’s School of Clinical Medicine Lecturer, Dr Jacqueline van Wyk, recently became the first woman of colour to be awarded the 2015 South African Association of Health Professions Educators (SAAHE) Distinguished Teachers’ Award.

The Award recognises her contribution to the creation of a community of practice in health science education, the development of a community through innovative educational processes and health service through research in education, and the creation of an environment to foster networking among educators and researchers.

Van Wyk was overjoyed about the accolade, ‘It is a great achievement to be nominated by your students,’ she said happily. ‘I am very excited since the recognition acknowledges teaching of staff and professional development as a scholarly activity.’

The award recognises an individual who has made a significant contribution to teaching in the health sciences or who has contributed to the development of scholarship in the discipline of health professions education.

Eligibility criteria for the nomination include to have been involved in the teaching of a health science discipline or the development and administration of health science education in a South African public Higher Education Institution.

Van Wyk was nominated by one of her post graduate students, Ms Deshni Naidoo, who is a Lecturer in the Discipline of Occupational Therapy. The nomination was seconded by Dr Fasika Amdeslassie of Ethiopia, whom she supervised on the Sub-Saharan Africa FAIMER fellowship programme.

Van Wyk has been teaching in Higher Education since 1995 and at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine (NRMSM) since 2000 when she was appointed as the education consultant to implement a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum.

She has made a significant contribution to staff development and played various roles in the oversight of the curriculum which included the initial establishment of an integrated assessment office, improving of the quality of teaching and learning on the MBChB programme.

She served on each of the integrated theme design teams and on the assessment and curriculum design, and also played a central role in preparing for the Health Professions Council of South Africa’s (HPCSA) accreditation visits of the PBL programme. 

Van Wyk has engaged in research of her own and has presented papers at both international and national conferences. These research projects have been in collaboration with colleagues both in South Africa and internationally.

She has worked to advance and disseminate research through her supervision and contributes to debates in health professions education through service as a reviewer for international and local journals. She serves as a Deputy Editor for the African Journal for Health Profession Educators (AJHPE).

Clinical Medicine Dean and Head of School,  Professor Richard Hift, said health professions education as a discipline was central to the work of the School of Clinical Medicine and its sister schools contributing to the training of health professionals for South Africa.

‘We are fortunate to have a number of staff very active in the scholarship of teaching and learning in this area, who also contribute greatly to the development of health professions education nationally and internationally. Dr van Wyk is one such staff member, and this award is a well-deserved acknowledgement of the quality and importance of her work. Congratulations.’

Nombuso Dlamini

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College of Law and Management Studies hosts Three-Minute-Thesis Competition

College of Law and Management Studies hosts Three-Minute-Thesis Competition
From left: Mr Vishal Surbun, Ms Tamylyn Mackenzie, Professor Marita Carnelley, Ms Joy Ndlovu and Mr Bheki Chili.

What can you do in three minutes? Well, some PhD students from the College of Law and Management Studies (CLMS) presented their theses in that time!

The recent CLMS Post Graduate Research Competition, based on a concept founded by the University of Queensland in Australia, required participants to deliver their thesis in a concise presentation using only one slide and in no more than three minutes.

The presenters were divided according to their Schools with winners awarded a cash prize of R2 500 each.

The School of Law got the ball rolling with judges Dr Shannon Bosch and Dr Paul Swanepoel deciding on Mr Vishal Surbun as the winner following his outstanding presentation on Redefining Maritime Piracy. The presentation focused on illegal acts of violence, detention or depredation committed for private ends by a crew or passengers of a private ship and directed against another ship on the high seas or any place outside the jurisdiction of the state.

Maritime Law expert, Professor Trevor Jones, said Surbun’s research had ‘sound principles that not only examine any geographical area but focus on maritime on a global scale’.

Ms Juanita Easthorpe presented on Religious Discrimination Based on Homosexuality and Homoeroticisim; Ms Suhayfa Bhamjee on Democracy and Death; Ms Munira Osman-Hyder on Regulating Muslim Divorces in the South African Legal Context; Mr Maropeng Mpya on the Enforcement of Human Rights Standards against Multinational Corporations; Mr Eben van der Merwe on Towards an Emancipatory Framework for Justice Education: a Social Justice and Community Engagement for Clinical Law LLB, and Mr Christopher Gevers on African States’ Use of International Law: a Theoretical Exposition.

Participants from the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance were up next with Professor Trevor Jones and Dr Tammy Rautenberg handling the judging.

Ms Tamlyn Mckenzie won with her presentation titled: “Measuring Disability and its Associated Opportunity Costs using South African Household Survey Data”. Her thesis investigated the various ways in which disability can be measured using the existing national household surveys through providing an analysis of the long term economic costs of disability in terms of educational attainment, employment and earnings.

Mr Adebayo Kutu presented on MP Shocks, Industrial Production and BRICS, which examined how monetary policy shocks and industrial sector performance were related.

Participants from the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance (MIG) and the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) were judged by Professor Yogi Penceliah and Dr Shaun Ruggunan.

The GSB&L winner was Ms Joy Ndlovu whose presentation was titled: “The Impact of HR Governance on the Success of Microfinance in SA”. The thesis explored entrepreneurship as a solution for unemployment and issues in microfinance in this field.

Mr Bheki Chili was the MIG winner for his presentation titled: “The Assessment of the Adoption and the Usage of e-Banking at Ithala Bank in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa”.

Other presenters from the School included Ms Khalida Akbar who spoke on: “Brain Injuries Do Not Discriminate” and Mr Irshad Abdulla whose topic was: “Challenges of Government-to-Government e-Government: A Case Study of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport”.

College Dean of Research, Professor Marita Carnelley, said the aim of the competition was to encourage post graduate students to present their research and get valuable feedback on how they can improve. She added that the College looked forward to making the contest an annual event.

 Thandiwe Jumo

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Disability Research Indaba

Disability Research Indaba
Mr Lungani J Mthethwa captivated the delegates with his sensational presentation.

The inaugural Disability Research Indaba held at the Westville Country Club was made possible through the efforts of UKZN’s Disability Support Unit (DSU), the Student Services Division, the Corporate Relations Division, the UKZN HIV/AIDS Programme and The Carl and Emily Fuchs Foundation.

The aim of the Indaba was to introduce the phenomenon of ‘Research’ into the area of Disability Support in Higher Education because investigative work in the domain has had the effect of reinforcing the exclusion of persons with disabilities from enjoying equal opportunities.

Primary objectives of the Indaba were to:

·        Create an awareness of research happening in the Disability Support arena in Higher Education

·        Expedite development in Disability Support Services in Higher Education through research

·        Introduce a Research culture within the Disability context in Higher Education

·        Facilitate a strong platform for more research engagement.

The theme of the Indaba was: “Challenges, Opportunities, Observations and Transformation: Placing Disability on the Research and Innovation Agenda in Higher Education”.

About 115 people attended, including UKZN staff, stakeholders, students and other role-players.

The Indaba kicked off with an interactive mobility workshop hosted by the DSU’s Independence Trainer, Ms Moganambal (Margie) Naidoo, who enlightened everyone about the experience of everyday living with a disability. The workshop provided the audience with a glimpse into the world of the visually impaired through simulations of different eye conditions as well as total blindness. Demonstrations were done with ‘able-bodied people’ who were made to be temporarily ‘disabled’ through the use of blindfolds and other devices.

Dr Siva Moodley was the keynote speaker for the day and he inspired all in attendance with a riveting presentation which focused on equal access in Higher Education and the importance of placing Disability on the Research Agenda.

Presentations and events at the Indaba included:

·     Ms Willene Holness on:  Accessibility gains in the Equality Courts: Obligations of educational institutions.

·     Mr Lungani Mthethwa (a UKZN Masters student with a disability) who presented his current ‘work in progress’ Masters study on the experiences and challenges of adapting to an inclusive education learning environment which centred around UKZN students living with disabilities. Despite the study still being underway, the current research standing of the study left audiences in awe.

·     A poster presentation by Mr MG Tesfamichael detailing a comparative study of young adults through examining if having a disability contributed or limited a person’s understanding of HIV/AIDS.

·     The DSU Co-ordinator: Edgewood campus, Ms Roshanthni Subrayen, on “What Next? What is to be Done?: Redesigning Tinto’s Learning Communities for Teaching Practice Placements for Bachelor of Education Students  with Visual Impairments at UKZN”.

·     Ms Yanga Khuboni, DSU Co-ordinator: Pietermaritzburg campus, on educational experiences of people with disabilities.

·     Ms June McIntyre of College of Health Sciences on her study which explored the facilitating factors which contributed to a male wheelchair user’s participation within a tertiary institution

·     Mr Velenkosini Zitha onThe compliance of UKZN with Article 9 (Accessibility) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A case study of Howard College

·     Ms Olaoluwa Adewumi on factors that contributed to HIV counselling and testing uptake among students with disability on the Howard College campus.

·     A wrap-up presentation by Information Officer: HIV/AIDS Programme, Mr Thembani Ntobeko Khumalo, who highlighted key aspects from each presentation that was delivered on the day.

Overall, the Disability Research Indaba was a resounding success. The feedback received from all delegates was extremely positive and inspiring. Apart from the stimulating presentations, the Indaba portrayed an eye-opening and empowering experience affirming that a ‘Research’ culture is alive and strong in the area of disability Support.

Organisers say they hoped this Indaba will hasten the research culture not just at UKZN but also across other institutions and organisations in the country as there is still a lot to be learned, explored and discovered in the area of Disability in Higher Education.

Amith Ramballie and Sachin Suknunan

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The UKZN Griot. Of Passing and Failing

The UKZN Griot.  Of Passing and Failing

Keyan G Tomaselli*

‘Pass one, pass all’ was an opportunistic catchphrase of the 1990s, uttered by militant students who claimed that administrative justice was thus best served.  The ranking of class essays from good to bad was considered undemocratic and demands were made for marks to be homogenised across the whole class.  Some would even threaten lecturers – ‘We know where you live’ – while the less democratically inclined would try to negotiate higher marks on the basis of racial congruity with their lecturers – ‘Let’s make a deal, black-on-Black’.  Then, there were those weak students who ‘knew’ that they deserved an ‘A’ and tried to negotiate an upgrade by camping in departments for days on end trying to exhaust the patience and sanity of their tutors.

No-one thought that they should fail for any reason at all.  One MA student told me that the text that he had plagiarised from the web, which he had laboriously copied in long hand, in fact was plagiarised by the web author from his own hand written essay.  Our hard-working international African students and lecturers looked on with a combination of horror, bemusement and disbelief.  I know of PhD theses that were nothing more than atrocious technical reports being passed by their host institutions.  Where I would write 15 pages of closely argued critique, other examiners would just tick the boxes, lodge their claims and move onto the next one.  This conveyer belt that relied on pass one pass all was a national industry.

My response to ‘Pass one, pass all’ was ‘Fail one, fail all’.  That put paid to the nonsense.  I would then ask whether the student who had failed would fly with a pilot with a condoned pass.  Up until recently this was a hypothetical question.  Indeed, a recent graphic reminder of what happens when we pass students who should fail occurred in Taiwan when a Chinese pilot, who had failed his simulator test, crashed his plane, killing everyone on board. One of the engines had cut out and instead of switching it on again he stupidly turned off the engine that was running and which might have righted the plane. 

Then there are those pilots who have failed their psychology assessments who have recently committed suicide by plane and who deliberately kill hundreds of innocent passengers.  On top of these failed pilots are their failed managers like at Malaysia Airlines who once kept their planes flying over war zones – with predictable   results.  The managers who fail to manage their pilots’ planes routes can and do kill because they don’t anticipate likely consequences of flying through war zones.

Hence, my pro-active philosophy that ‘Fail one, fail all’ will save thousands of lives, whereas ‘Pass one, pass all’ will kill thousands.  Just think of all those mini bus drivers with condoned licences who kill their passengers by the dozen because they think that physical laws and the rules don’t apply to them.  They think that they can pass one pass all, usually on the wrong side of the road, in the emergency lanes or over pedestrians or by other means.   Since just about everyone has contempt for the rules of the road, Arrive Alive should just close shop and leave it to motorists to ‘kill one, kill all’.  

If one extrapolates further, the now EFFing Malema ingratiated himself while protecting his own life by claiming that he would ‘kill for Zuma’, not that he would die for him, the more charitable offer.  So, all those graduates with condoned passes, take a leaf out of Bungling (Buffalo) Bill’s book, who will you kill today? 

‘Shun mediocrity’ was the catchphrase of the July 2015 Africa Universities Summit held at the University of Johannesburg.  Our own VC, Professor Albert van Jaarsveld, got massive coverage in the ensuing reports, about the need for cosmopolitanism, local career pathing and the global circulation of academics.  Let’s hope none of them have to catch the local mini bus taxies or planes piloted by failed pilots, lest they circulate in the local and global cemeteries also.  Then, of course visiting academics have to be trained and psyched up to deal with toyi-toying students who chase other students and lecturers out of classrooms, libraries and other study spaces.   The ‘cool toys’ (from the North) that Dr van Jaarsveld wants to get to ensure that top academics remain in South Africa are sometimes trashed in the process. 

Toy-one, toyi-all, I say.  Let’s have fun with the toys.  But that means that we should be trained to use them, not to smash them.  The problem with the strategy of making the country ungovernable of the late 1980s, with its associated discourse of ‘freedom now education later’, is that the education bit got lost in translation.  Education became associated with chaos, and mediocrity was certified as democratic.  Where Jeremy Bentham proposed: ‘The greatest good for the greatest number’, in South Africa, the practice rewards mediocrity for the few, which protects the incompetent at the expense of the majority. 

No-one knows who is flying the plane anymore.

Keyan G Tomaselli is UKZN Professor Emeritus and a Distinguished Professor at the University of Johannesburg.  That means that he is not mediocre, but measurably meritocratic.  He is not ready to fly with failed pilots.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author’s own.

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UKZN’s Solar Car Shines!

UKZN’s Solar Car Shines!
UKZN’s Solar Car team, Hulamin, at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge finish line in Adelaide, Australia.

UKZN’s solar car, Hulamin, has successfully completed the 3 022km road journey between Darwin and Adelaide in Australia in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

The exhausted yet ecstatic team crossed the finish line 13th out of 42 starters, 29 of which raced in the Challenger class. 

The race took the team of UKZN Engineering students and staff 47 hours, 53 minutes and 59 seconds of actual driving, over five and a half days.

The Nuon Solar Team and Solar Team Twente - both of the Netherlands - finished first and second respectively while Team Tokai Challenger of Japan was third.

‘It was a tough race that required a lot of hard work,’ said UKZN co-team team leader, Dr Clinton Bemont. ‘We were on the go all the time and hardly had a chance to relax.  Now I’m looking forward to a good shower, time to relax and a beer!’

‘The team is exhausted but happy to have finished two days before the cut off,’ said Academic Leader for Mechanical Engineering, Professor Glen Bright, who flew out especially from South Africa to meet the UKZN team at the finish line.

‘I am very proud of their achievements. While they had to deal with resource constraints, they overcame many challenges along the route to emerge as worthy UKZN and South African contestants.’

‘Well done to all the UKZN Solar Car team members and support group. You have done your University and country proud!’ he said.

‘Thank you! We could not have done this without the help we got from all our supporters,’ said Ms Kirsty Veale, the team’s other co-leader.

UKZN’s Dean of Engineering, Professor Cristina Trois, was full of praise.  ‘I am very proud of this achievement and very excited about the team’s return to South Africa,’ she said.

Patron of the UKZN Solar Car Project, Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, was equally delighted.  ‘This is wonderful news,’ he said. ‘My hearty congratulations to the whole team. We are all very proud of you for flying the UKZN flag high down under. Viva Halumin Viva.’

Sally Frost

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Media Lecturer Enjoys Intercultural Experience

Media Lecturer Enjoys Intercultural Experience
UKZN Lecturer, Ms Luthando Ngema (front row, right), with ARROWSA participants at the Stoke Dameral Community College.

Ms Luthando Ngema, a Lecturer within the Department of Media and Cultural Studies in the School of Arts, recently embarked on an exciting three-week intercultural experience.

It began with a trip to Plymouth in England and then to Cape Town to present at the South African Communication Association (SACOMM) Conference and finally ending in Durban for a workshop at Bechet High School in Sydenham.

Ngema and ARROWSA (Art a Resource for Reconciliation Over the World) Facilitator, Mr Bhekithemba Dlamini, and UKZN first year students and ARROWSA participants, Mr Tshimanga Tshiteya and Mr Darnelle Fortune, participated in the International Development of Reconciliation through the Arts (Indra) Congress and ARROWSA Intercultural Exchange Programme which aimed to bring together youth-based organisations to exchange knowledge and skills through the arts.

Through the work done at Bechet High School, ARROWSA was granted funding by the National Arts Council to partake in activities at the Indra Congress, where the group from ARROWSA were able to perform and participate in arts and culture activities, organised by Miss Alix Harris, Indra Congress facilitator based in Plymouth.

They were also hosted for three days at Stoke Dameral Community College where they performed for over 250 pupils. ‘At the school we work-shopped on environmental impacts on society (which is the theme that ARRROWSA is currently working on). While in Plymouth they also learned about the Barbican theatre, a theatre founded by David Oddie and where the theatre group from INDRA congress is based,’ said Ngema.

‘We visited the City College to attend drama and dance classes that teach from a participatory perspective and also TR2 which is a learning centre for Theatre Royal Plymouth which has rehearsal studios, and a costume department and a workshop, which makes the sets for productions at the Theatre Royal and shows that are being performed elsewhere in England,’ said Ngema.

On her return from England, Ngema presented her paper at the SACOMM Conference hosted at AFDA in Cape Town.  The paper was titled: “Stakeholder Engagement and Participation Through the Marketing of Natural and Cultural Heritage:  ARROWSA”, the Palmiet Nature Reserve and Bergtheil Museum, Westville, KZN.

In it she discussed the challenges of a participatory communication approach in marketing natural and cultural heritage educational programmes to schools by ARROWSA from 2006 to 2015.

Melissa Mungroo

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Doctoral Student Presents Research at China-Africa Think Tanks Forum

Doctoral Student Presents Research at China-Africa Think Tanks Forum
Mr Clayton Hazvinei Vhumbunu at the 4th annual China-Africa Think Tanks Forum.

UKZN PhD student in International Relations, Mr Clayton Hazvinei Vhumbunu, attended the 4th annual China-Africa Think Tanks Forum (CATTF IV) presented by the South African Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) in collaboration with the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) in Pretoria.

CATTF is a high-end platform for academic exchanges and dialogue on governance, anthropology, peace and security, foreign policy, and trade and investment between African and Chinese researchers with a view to providing intellectual support to the China-Africa relationship to make it more sustainable.

It is organised by Zhejiang Normal University, with support from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, and China Development Bank together with other African Think Tanks.

At the forum, Vhumbunu presented his research paper titled: “Africa Since the Tanzania-Zambia Railway: Reflecting on China-Africa Partnership’s Experience in Deepening and Widening African Integration through Regional Infrastructure Development”.

He presented an argument for regional infrastructure development as a catalyst for African integration, taking stock of the China-Africa partnership’s experiences, challenges and prospects in delivering African regional infrastructure since the landmark Tanzania-Zambia Railway Project, also referred to as the ‘Uhuru Railway’.

The railway was constructed by the Chinese between 1968-1976 to link the Zambian Town of Kapiri-Mposhi and the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam.

‘My research offers new ideas on the possible cross-border infrastructure delivery models and approaches that can be adopted within the framework of China-Africa Partnership to ensure complementarity and sustainability of efforts towards the physical integration of the continent so as to reduce the cost of doing business in Africa, promote more intra-African trade and enhance economic co-operation between African states,’ he said.

Melissa Mungroo

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Successful 19th Poetry Africa finale at Rivertown Beerhall

Successful 19th Poetry Africa finale at Rivertown Beerhall
Poetry Africa participants on stage.

The finale of the 19th Poetry Africa Festival – organised by UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities – was held at the Rivertown Beerhall Gallery, a satellite of the Durban Art Gallery.

During the Festival the venue hosted an exciting programme of workshops, open mic performances, book launches as well as musical and poetry performances.

The final evening’s programme kicked off with the annual Slam Jam event where Durban slam poets competed for the title of Poetry Africa Slam Jam champion.

Final performances from all 24 Poetry Africa participants kept audiences entertained.

Soweto-born, Dub-Poet and Writer, Mr Lesego Rampolokeng, said: ‘I’m so grateful to Poetry Africa for including me again as one of their poets. Great event.’

Performer, Actress, Presenter and Poet Ms Lebo Mashile added: ‘Well done to the Poetry Africa team for a wonderful Festival.’

The Schools Poetry Competition formed part of the Festival giving youngsters an opportunity to showcase their poetry writing skills. Entrants were invited to submit original poems.

 Cash and book voucher awards were sponsored by Adams Campus Books.

The Poetry Africa 2015 Schools Poetry Winners in the English Category were:

  1. Ms Ayanda Vuyokazi Mgoduka of Westville Girls High for: Letter to a Dark Skinned King
  2. Ms Jenna Caitlyn Dunford of Westville Girls High for: An Abyssopelagic Melody
  3. Ms Sarah Kitching of Durban Girls College for: Untitled.

The Poetry Africa 2015 Schools Poetry Winners in the isiZulu Category were:

  1. Ms Sanelisiwe Majola of Dwengu High School for: Langa Lami Lokufa
  2. Mr Sduduzo Philani Shandu of James Nxumalo Agricultural High School for: Emva Kokuhlupheka kwami Lomhlab’ uzongifunz’ Izithukuthuku zami
  3. Mr Thobani Ngcongo of Dwengu High School for: Kunzima Emuva.

The Festival concluded with a performance from award winning Johannesburg-based artist Nakhane Touré.  His debut music video for the single, Fog was nominated for a Design Indaba Most Beautiful Object award.

*The 19th Poetry Africa Festival was presented by UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts and made possible through support from the eThekwini Municipality, the KZN Department of Arts and Culture, the National Arts Council and the Goethe Institute. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the College of Humanities and is a special project of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Media Scholars at SACOMM Conference

UKZN Media Scholars at SACOMM Conference
From left: Dr Subeshini Moodley, Dr Lauren Dyll-Myklebust, Dr Nicola Jones and Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli.

Academic Leader of Research in the School of Arts, Dr Nicola Jones, and Lecturer, Dr Subeshini Moodley of the Discipline of Media and Cultural Studies, represented UKZN at the annual South African Communications and Research Conference (SACOMM) hosted in Cape Town by AFDA, the SA School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance.

The academics presented their papers under the theme: “The ME Factor: Media, Entertainment, Education, Entrepreneurship and Ethics – Bridging the Digital Divide in Developing Nations. Emerging Voices. Emerging Markets”.

Jones presented a paper titled: “Damming the Fountains of Justice: an Examination of Three South African Publications’ Coverage of Reeva Steenkamp’s Alleged Murder in the Context of South African Crime and Court Reporting”.

She was also invited to participate in two panel discussions: “Performing Local Identities, and What Mark Should we Give This? Problems of Assessment in Post Graduate Research Output”.

Moodley presented a paper on: “What are the ‘Silences’ in Self-Reflexive Filmmaking Saying?: Voicelessness as a Form of Feminist Resistance”, which was based on the findings from her PhD dissertation titled: “Narrative Possibilities in a Postcolonial Context: Exploring Self-Reflexive Film as a Critical Articulation of the Stories of South African Hindu Women”.

The Conference provided a valuable platform to network with academics from other institutions and to discover new developments in the academics’ fields of interest. Moodley explained that some of the new and interesting developments in film studies pertained to research papers which looked at the changing representations of women in mainstream films and how women were represented from an eco-feminist perspective, the changing dynamics of documentary film-making specifically in conflict ridden countries, and how animated films/documentaries could be used as a form of therapy.

The papers by Jones and Moodley were well received, with Jones submitting for publication a paper titled: “Illusions of Reality? Some Reflections on James Oatway’s Photographic Images of Xenophobic Violence in South Africa”.

A great honour and highlight for UKZN and the contingent was Professor Keyan Tomaselli and Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli, both of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society, being awarded Lifelong Fellowships of SACOMM.

Merusha Naidoo

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UKZN Academic and Lions Club Join Forces in Aid of Eyesight

UKZN Academic and Lions Club Join Forces in Aid of Eyesight
Professor Kovin Naidoo.

UKZN’s Professor in Optometry, Professor Kovin Naidoo, is to implement a research programme with the aim of measuring the implications of correcting ageing near sight (presbyopia) with regard to productivity and vision-related quality of life assessments.

Naidoo is the CEO of UKZN’s African Vision Research Institute (AVRI) and Acting CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute.

The 12-month research project, funded by the Lion’s Club International Foundation (LCIF), will examine the vision of 600 KwaZulu-Natal textile factory workers at their workplace.

With age, the lens inside a human eye becomes less flexible and its ability to change shape is reduced. This inevitable loss of flexibility is called presbyopia which causes near vision to be blurred. This usually happens progressively to everyone over the age of 40.

Said Naidoo, the Principal Investigator of the research programme: ‘Uncorrected vision impairment is a major public health issue. The prevalence of both myopia (short-sightedness) and presbyopia (inability to focus on close objects) is increasing dramatically world-wide. Our ability to address this challenge is going to be influenced by the evidence we produce about the value of correcting near vision. Work Productivity Studies provide a good indicator of the economic value for employers to invest in correcting their staff’s vision.

‘Advocacy is key to expanding services both by governments and the business sector. It is hoped that the data from this study will influence policies that are pro-poor and thus increase access to vision correction,’ said Naidoo.

The research programme also aims to develop eye health promotion material that will be distributed nationwide to benefit about 100 000 South African factory workers. ‘Materials of this nature can help change eye health perceptions and eye health seeking behaviour of factory workers, thus increasing public awareness.’

Naidoo is also involved in a second study that received a grant from the Lions Clubs International Foundation.

The research, to be conducted in Bogota in Colombia, aims to collect accurate and relevant data about uncorrected refractive error and spectacle uptake in order to plan and implement appropriate eye care initiatives that will reduce the burden of avoidable vision impairment.

The key research findings from all these programmes will be published and made available to eye health professionals through seminars and professional meetings, posters and presentations at local, regional and international conferences.

Chairperson of the Lions Clubs International Foundation, Mr Joel Preston, said: ‘This research will further the LCIF SightFirst programme by identifying the needs and assessing programme strategies related to equity, capacity building and sustainability in the delivery of eye care in South Africa and Colombia.’

An estimated 1.04 billion people worldwide had presbyopia in 2005, and of these, 517 million had either no spectacles or inadequate spectacles causing significant near vision impairment. With the world’s population ageing rapidly, the global prevalence of presbyopia is predicted to increase to 1.4 billion by 2020 and to 1.8 billion by 2050.

 MaryAnn Francis

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UKZN Scientists Represent South Africa at Network of African Science Academies Workshop in Kenya

UKZN Scientists Represent South Africa at Network of African Science Academies Workshop in Kenya
Professor Albert Modi (left) and Professor Roland Schulze with Dr Jennifer Molwanta of the Water Research Commission at the workshop in Kenya.

Professor Albert Modi and Emeritus Professor Roland Schulze of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) were among five South Africans who participated in a Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) workshop on the topic of Improving the Management of Water Resources for Sustainable Development in Africa and the Americas.

The workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, was attended by more than 50 water scientists, hydrologists, engineers, academics and policy-makers working on water-related research around the world.

Schulze, an eminent Hydrologist, presented a paper titled: “Challenges from Municipal to Catchment to National Scales in Adapting to Climate Change in South Africa’s Water Sector”.

Modi presented a paper on: “The Potential Role of Indigenous Knowledge in Crop Production – Looking Back into the Future”.

Both academics participated in panel discussions.

Modi and Schulze were identified by the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) to represent the country at the workshop, together with representatives from ASSAf and the Water Research Commission (WRC).

The workshop was also used to launch a NASAC Water Policymakers’ Booklet, titled: The Grand Challenge of Water Security in Africa: Recommendations to Policymakers.

Modi said the workshop had been a very good learning experience, and he was encouraged by the interest of water specialists and engineers in issues of water and food security.


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UKZN Professor Publishes Second Volume of The Vertebrate Integument

UKZN Professor Publishes Second Volume of <em>The Vertebrate Integument</em>
Professor Theagarten Lingham-Soliar.

Honorary Professor of Life Sciences at UKZN, Professor Theagarten Lingham-Soliar, has published Volume II of his book: The Vertebrate Integument, Structure, Design and Function, which includes part of his work challenging some of the hypotheses on the widely-accepted theory that birds evolved from dinosaurs.

Lingham-Soliar, known for his strict evidence-based approach to science, has dedicated more than 15 years to studies on the integument, the outer covering of an animal - including feathers, scales and skin - and the largest organ of the body.

In Volume I of his book published in 2014, he focused on the origin and evolution of the integument, which drew considerable interest in the scientific community and took readers on a journey starting 450 million years ago (MYA) in the oceans, to the conquest of land, to dinosaurs and to our own distant ancestor over 200 MYA, the mammal-like reptiles. An exposition on the development and complexity of the integument demonstrates why ignoring such knowledge in the widely accepted theory that birds evolved from dinosaurs seriously undermines it.

In Volume II the emphasis is placed on the structure and functional design of the integument, with a brief introduction to some fundamental principles of physics (mechanics) including Newton’s Three Laws of Motion.

‘Volume II is a comprehensive and authoritative review of vertebrate integument structure and function; I think it will be a landmark work,’ said Professor Philip Motta of the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida in the United States. ‘It is definitely a must for students of vertebrate functional morphology.’

Volume II homes in on vertebrate motion through fluids (air and water) and how the integument contributes to it. According to Lingham-Soliar, the ubiquitous crossed-fibre architecture of the integument contributes to high-speed swimming in marine vertebrates and, in the case of birds, flight. In the book, Lingham-Soliar discusses how the integument was first used in active flight in the extinct pterosaurs and today in the only mammal to actively fly, bats, both groups employing the integument as a membrane in flapping flight.

Besides being a Palaeontologist, Lingham-Soliar works on living animals, mainly sharks and birds. He found that there was little information on the microstructure of the feather, which might lead to an understanding of how it may have originated. Using rigorous and novel methods of investigation, Lingham-Soliar discovered that filaments in the feather midrib are organised as thick keratinous fibre bundles, considerably thicker than envisaged before, and that they were identical to the hair-like filaments in chicks, providing possible clues to how feathers might have evolved about 200+ MYA. As recorded in Volume II, the notable expert on feather structure, the late Professor Peter Stettenheim, remarked: ‘It is a fascinating and very original piece of work… your finding not only furnishes a good indication of how the rachis originated, but also seems to support the old notion that the earliest feathers were downy to provide warmth.’

An entire section of the book is dedicated to dealing with some of the controversies of bird and feather origins.

Lingham-Soliar’s investigations of feather-like structures found in the famous Liaoning fossils in China have sparked much controversy globally. While not necessarily disagreeing with the hypothesis that birds arose from dinosaurs, Lingham-Soliar refuted the hypothesis that integumental structures found in many small dinosaurs were ‘protofeathers’, stating that in all probability they were the degraded remains of collagen fibres, leading to Lingham-Soliar being one of the most cited persons on the National Geographic website at the time. His work has polarised scientists, but has also drawn praise from leading scientists in this field.

Evolutionary Biologist, Professor Walter Bock of Columbia University, in a review of the book, Riddle of the Feathered Dragons by Alan Feduccia said, in support of the collagen fibre hypothesis: ‘The current widespread belief that many or even most dinosaurs possessed avian feathers is simply fictitious and is based on a failure to know and/or understand these excellent papers by Lingham-Soliar.’

Feduccia, an S. K. Heninger Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina in the United States, also supported Lingham-Soliar’s work.

‘The skin or integument of vertebrates and its derivatives are among the most important, but largely ignored, organs of the body,’ said Feduccia. ‘Professor Lingham-Soliar’s The Vertebrate Integument has brought this complex field up to date with the recent appearance of Volume II, treating primarily locomotion (that is motion in fluid, swimming and aerial flight) in diverse lineages of vertebrates.’

‘As a world expert on collagen, Lingham-Soliar astutely describes the mechanism of cross-fibers directly connected with high speed in fast swimming marine vertebrates. The author is at his best in the treatment of skin in diverse solutions to flight. I would particularly recommend the chapter on birds and their flight, which is clearly the best treatment of this subject available to date. The author does not shy away from controversial topics and has a particularly incisive section on the alleged existence of protofeathers in the well-preserved fossils of the Jehol Biota in China,’ added Feduccia.

On the note of controversy surrounding his work, Lingham-Soliar said: ‘Scientific values have given way to sensationalism and dogma, and the harm that is being done to evolutionary biology and the future of secular societies by some of the leading journals in the world will have impact for years.’

He dedicated his book to the children of Soweto in 1976 who he says were an inspiration to disenfranchised young people around the world.

 Christine Cuénod

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College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Students Tie the Knot

College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Students Tie the Knot
The wedding of Ms Olufunke Fajinmi and Mr Olaoluwa Olarewaju Omoniyi was celebrated on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

Two postgraduate students in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) got married recently after meeting in 2013 through mutual friends and fellow students, and enjoying a common passion for the scientific fields in which they are studying.

Ms Olufunke Fajinmi, a postgraduate student in the School of Life Sciences, met Mr Olaoluwa Olarewaju Omoniyi, a postgraduate student in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), through a mutual friend in 2013.

It all began during Fajinmi’s postgraduate studies at UKZN when she shared some of the challenges she was facing with her friend and neighbour, who suggested she meet a colleague in SAEES who was doing similar research.

‘At first, I was sceptical because I had been determined not to mingle with men during my studies!’ said Fajinmi. However, her friend persevered and set a time to introduce Fajinmi to Omoniyi.

The two, both from Nigeria, hit it off immediately, with their common interest in the fields of Horticultural Sciences and Botany helping them form a bond as they supported one another through their research and the challenges of being international students.

‘Olarewaju was a source of encouragement while I was waiting for the outcome of the extension of my study permit I had applied for, which was taking longer than expected,’ said Fajinmi.

He proposed on the eve of Fajinmi’s birthday in 2014.

The couple, who live in Pietermaritzburg, are both still completing their studies. ‘Thanks to her, during the time I was completing the thesis for my Masters degree, I didn’t go hungry!’ said Omoniyi.

Fajinmi says they have brought out the best in one another, with their individual relationships with friends and family and God being enhanced by their union.

‘Olufunke is unlike any other person I have ever met,’ said Omoniyi. ‘She’s so loving, caring, humble, gorgeous, beautiful, kind, smart, and intelligent - in fact, she’s out of this world.’

Symbolic of the role that UKZN played in their union, the couple held their reception at the Colin Webb Hall on Pietermaritzburg’s main campus. Members of their bridal party included friends and classmates who have played a role in both their academic and personal journeys.

Christine Cuénod

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Biochemistry PhD Student Wins Grant to Present Research in Canada

Biochemistry PhD Student Wins Grant to Present Research in Canada
Dr Shahidul Islam (left) and Mr Aminu Mohammed at work in the lab.

PhD candidate in the School of Life Sciences, Mr Aminu Mohammed, will present his research results at the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) World Diabetes Congress taking place in Vancouver, Canada, from 30 November to 4 December.

Mohammed’s travel, accommodation and subsistence costs have been sponsored thanks to a grant from the IDF - he is one of only 100 researchers globally to have been selected to receive the grant. Mohammed applied for the grant and was subjected to a rigorous selection procedure to determine the importance of his work and its relevance to proceedings at the Congress.

His congress presentation is titled: “Antidiabetic Effect of Acetone Fraction from Xylopia aethiopica Fruit in a Type 2 Diabetes Model of Rats”.  A version of this has been submitted to the Journal of Ethnopharmacology for publication.

Mohammed’s presentation is taken from his PhD research which focused on the development of newer, more effective and less toxic remedies derived from African natural products for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. By using African natural products as remedies, Mohammed hopes to develop therapies for type 2 diabetes that will not only cause fewer side effects than the synthetic or chemically-originated drugs that are widely used at the moment, but also overcome some of the limitations of these treatments.

This work has involved various in vitro and in vivo experiments to demonstrate the anti-diabetic activity of selected African medicinal plants as well as their mechanisms of action.

‘The work involved the challenging task of bio-assay guided isolation of the pure active compounds and the interpretation of the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) data,’ said Mohammed.

His PhD works have already borne fruit, with four research articles published in ISI-rated journals, and another eight in various stages of preparation for publishing.

One of the plants being investigated by Mohammed and his supervisor, Dr Shahidul Islam, is the Xylopia aethiopica, which is used as a spice in many African countries. Their studies have shown that this plant contains compounds which improve pancreatic beta cell function and prevent insulin resistance in a type 2 diabetes model of rats.

Mohammed, who is originally from Nigeria, said he was drawn to this field by the increasing prevalence of diabetes worldwide, and the undesirable side effects being experienced by many patients on currently available synthetic drugs.

‘This motivates scientists like me to search for novel molecules from natural plant-based remedies, since fewer side effects have been reported with the use of plants in the treatment of different diseases,’ said Mohammed.

Additionally, there is interest from the pharmaceutical industry in studies of this kind since plants contain an undiscovered wealth of potentially useful bioactive compounds for diabetes control, with relatively fewer adverse effects.

Mohammed said he was looking forward to attending the Congress and hoped his presentation and interactions with international colleagues in this field would contribute to advancing the quest for effective treatment of diabetes. Additionally, the scientific programmes held during the Congress to showcase the latest developments in diabetes research and treatment would contribute to enhancing the international standard of work being done by UKZN researchers in this arena.

Christine Cuénod

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Mopane Worms Topic of Paper Presented by UKZN Academic at Conference in Germany

Mopane Worms Topic of Paper Presented by UKZN Academic at Conference in Germany
UKZN’s Dr Lloyd Baiyegunhi with one of the conference participants.

A UKZN Lecturer addressed a conference in Germany on the commercialisation of the mopane worm as a food source.

Dr Lloyd Baiyegunhi of the Discipline of Agricultural Economics in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) spoke on the issue at the annual Conference on Tropical and Subtropical Agricultural and Natural Resource Management (Tropentag), organised by the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) in Müncheberg and the Humboldt-Universität Berlin.

Baiyegunhi presented a paper titled: “Commercialisation of the Mopane Worm (Imbrasia belina) in Rural Households in the Limpopo Province, South Africa”.

Mopane worms are caterpillars from the emperor moth Imbrasia belina, which feed virtually solely on the mopane tree Colophospermum mopane. They are a valuable Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP) resource used for subsistence and sold to generate income by rural households in southern Africa.

Baiyegunhi’s presentation was informed by the work of a UKZN Agricultural Economics Masters student, Ms Beatrice Oppong, who graduated in 2014 and was supervised by Baiyegunhi and Ms Grany Senyolo.

Three papers have been published in scientific journals from this research, covering several issues including the contribution of mopane worm to rural households’ food security and livelihood.

The paper received considerable attention at the Conference, which is a development-oriented and interdisciplinary event. Given that the theme was “Management of Land Use Systems for Enhanced Food Security - Conflicts, Controversies and Resolutions”, Baiyegunhi’s presentation fitted well into the focus by addressing the implications that continued over-exploitation and commercialisation had for long-term management of the mopane woodlands in the northern parts of South Africa.

Tropentag is designed to provide a forum for the discussion on issues such as resource management, environment, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, nutrition and related sciences in the context of rural development, sustainable resource use and poverty alleviation worldwide.

The Conference attracted more than 1 000 participants from 62 countries - an all-time record for the annual event.  According to Baiyegunhi, the event featured interesting, encouraging, and sometimes controversial discussions as well as many impressive posters documenting high level research, with over 140 oral presentations covering all fields of research related to development.

 Christine Cuénod

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Transformation of SA Accounting Profession Debated at UKZN Business Breakfast

Transformation of SA Accounting Profession Debated at UKZN Business Breakfast
Panellists: Dr Terence Nombembe, Mrs Vanuja Maharaj, Mr Sandile Zungu and Mrs Jane Meyerowitz.

What strategies can the accounting profession, government, industry and academia implement to transform the profession?

That was the question which stirred debate at a business breakfast meeting hosted by the College of Law and Management Studies.

The breakfast was attended by members of the accounting profession, academics from the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, representatives of the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) and Accounting students who shared views on the theme: “Strategies for Transforming the Accounting Profession”.

The panel for the meeting comprised the CEO of SAICA, Dr Terence Nombembe; the KZN Auditor-General, Mrs Vanuja Maharaj; Chairman of ZICO Limited, Mr Sandile Zungu, and the Executive Director of UKZN Foundation, Mrs Jane Meyerowitz.

During his welcome address, the College’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head, Professor John Mubangizi, said it was an opportune time to hold an event of this nature as this year the spotlight had been more sharply than ever before on transformation in the Higher Education sector.

‘When we talk about strategies to transform the Accounting profession, we are talking about profound and radical changes,’ said Mubangizi. ‘As a College in which the Accounting Discipline is housed, we are concerned about the shortage of Black CAs in our country. We are concerned about our own inability to significantly ameliorate that situation.

‘It is out of that concern that we decided to hold this gathering with the sole purpose of starting a conversation aimed at exploring strategies and initiatives through which we can address the problem,’ he said.

Mubangizi said the College had contributed to UKZN’s strategic goal of transformation through the recruitment of 40 developmental lectures with a view to transforming the equity profile of academic staff. The aim was also to offer bilingual tutorials in some courses in order to enable students to grasp complex concepts in their mother tongue.

“Business, Government and Higher Education working together” was the title of Nombembe’s presentation which highlighted the crucial role SAICA played in transforming the accounting profession. He called on members of the profession and academia to join in this nation building effort by being active in their spaces and making a conscious effort to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality.

In her address, Maharaj focused on how as the supreme audit institution of South Africa, her department was doing its part to address challenges to transformation which she defined as the visibility of the accounting profession. Limited supply of qualifying matriculants passing pure maths and government funding were obstacles.

She called for strategies which empower maths teachers who play a critical role in the accounting value chain and to get parents involved as they provide guidance to their children.

Maharaj also called on the academic sector to get involved in research to enhance English reading and writing skills to ensure that students were adequately prepared for the accounting profession.

Speaking from a business perspective, Zungu highlighted issues of collaboration, race and inequality as the main contributors to the slow pace of transformation in the accountancy profession.

Meyerowitz spoke on the importance of student retention and how funding played a huge role in ensuring student success.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Environmental Law Research Presented at Post Graduate Conference

Environmental Law Research Presented at Post Graduate Conference
Delegates of the 4th Environmental Law Association Post Graduate Conference.

Research presented at a postgraduate conference at UKZN contributed to the body of knowledge on legal aspects relating to issues such as climate change, waste disposal and renewable energies, providing crucial input to possible solutions to global environmental problems.

The event was the 2015 Environmental Law Association Post Graduate Students’ Conference hosted by the School of Law under the theme: “Environmental Law: Pushing the Envelope”.

A total of 11 postgraduate students from UKZN, the North West University (NWU), the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and the University of Pretoria (UP) presented on aspects of environmental law, management and governance.

Law academic and Environmental Law expert Professor Michael Kidd said the Conference was important as it created an opportunity for the sharing and exchanging of knowledge in the rapidly-developing field of Environmental Law.

‘Not only does the Conference allow postgrad students to meet colleagues from other institutions, it also exposes them to constructive criticism and advice from fellow students and academics, They also benefit from a session where academics share their advice on writing dissertations - so ultimately the idea is to provide students with a great opportunity to augment their research experience,’ said Kidd.

UKZN’s contributors were Mr Didy Kizungu, who presented on the “Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in SADC”; Ms Nelly Mazambani, whose topic was:  “Loss and Damage under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)”, and Ms Zinzile Sibanda, who spoke on “Land Reform and Conservation: Co-Management of Protected Areas”.

From NWU, Ms Gertrude Shoko spoke on “Renewable Energy and Human Rights”; Ms Rachel Lekunze presented on “Regional Economic Communities, Renewable Energy and Climate Change”, and Mr Stephen Nel presented on “Landfill to Gas CDM Projects”.

From UP, Ms Ashleigh Keller presented on “Corporate Compliance and Enforcement: the Blue Platinum Ventures Case”; Mr Tshinanne Mutshatshi spoke on “Scientific Evidence and Decision-Making”, and Ms Khanyisile Zondo, presented on “Environmental Protection vs Economic Development”.

From Wits, Ms Alexa-Rae Sebba’s topic was “Environmental Ubuntu and Non-Human Animal Rights while Ms Kate Edwardes of UCT spoke on “Integrated Water Management”.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Platinum Award for Leading UKZN HIV/AIDS Researcher

Platinum Award for Leading UKZN HIV/AIDS Researcher
Professor Salim Abdool Karim receives the SA Medical Research Council’s Platinum Lifetime Achievement Award.

While South Africa has made impressive progress in its HIV response, the spread of the disease has yet to be controlled, says leading UKZN AIDS scientist, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, who was named as a recipient of the SA Medical Research Council’s (SAMRC) Platinum Lifetime Achievement Award for ‘excellence in research’ this year.

‘Impressive progress in scientific discovery, resource mobilisation, political commitment and implementation has been achieved but young women in Africa still have high HIV rates,’ said Abdool Karim.  ‘Each day there are about 1 000 new infections in South Africa.’

An accomplished scientist who has dedicated more than 30 years to social justice, human rights activism and scientific research, Abdool Karim has made several important breakthroughs ranging from treatment for HIV-TB co-infected people to new approaches to prevent HIV infections.

Commenting on his current research, which focuses mainly on innovative technologies to prevent HIV, he said: ‘We won’t stop HIV in young women tomorrow but it has to be part of our long-term vision.’

According to the SAMRC, the Platinum Medal is a Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding scientist who has contributed substantially to improving health through research and helped build the foundations of health research in the country for future generations.

Chairperson of the SAMRC Board, Professor Mike Sathekge, paid tribute to Abdool Karim, saying the Medical Research Council ‘recognises and congratulates you as an outstanding South African scientist who has contributed enormously to raising the profile of science in South Africa’.

In response to the HIV epidemic in KwaZulu-Natal, Abdool Karim established the award-winning research institute CAPRISA - Centre of the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa.

He is Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at UKZN and Professor in Clinical Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in the United States.  He chairs the Scientific Expert Panel of the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS, UNAIDS and is a member of both the World Health Organization’s HIV-TB Task Force and the WHO Expert Panel on Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV.

He is an elected Fellow of the Academy of Science in South Africa, The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the African Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of South Africa, the American Academy of Microbiology and the US National Academy of Medicine. He serves on the Boards of Lancet-Global Health, Lancet-HIV and the New England Journal of Medicine.

The award will be presented at the SAMRC Scientific Merit Awards Evening in Cape Town on 29 October.

Smita Maharaj

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Senior Tutor a Winner at CHS Research Symposium

Senior Tutor a Winner at CHS Research Symposium
Mrs Debbie Fewster.

Occupational Therapy  credentialing staff member, Mrs Debbie Fewster, won second prize at the annual College of Health Sciences Research Symposium for her study titled: “Experiences and Coping Strategies of Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder”.

‘I was surprised and did not expect to win anything at all. It has boosted my confidence and motivated me to continue my PhD with enthusiasm,’ she said.

As an occupational therapist working with children with autism, Fewster was interested in caregiver support and wondered why caregivers seemed reluctant to seek help. This created a dilemma for Fewster as seeking help seemed a logical solution to alleviate caregiver strain.

‘My study was an attempt to understand the challenges parents face as well as how they cope with these challenges to ultimately assist us as health care professionals in better understanding their needs as clients and to intervene appropriately,’ she said.

She thus embarked on a qualitative journey to investigate the lived experiences and coping strategies of parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

She used a purposive sampling method to recruit participants from a stimulation centre in KwaZulu-Natal and obtained a final sample and gathered data via semi-structured triad, dyad and individual interviews. These interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim,’ she said.

The stories shared by the participants revealed that parenting a child with autism was highly stressful and demanding on parents. Fewster said although there had been an increase in autism awareness, an element of stigma remained as people did not understand the problem.

This stigma further isolated and alienated the parents and families.

Fewster said despite the huge burden of care parents endured in raising a child with ASD, many positive experiences occurred along the way. ‘They spoke of appreciating life more and feeling privileged to have the responsibility to take care of such special children. Many strategies were employed by these parents ranging from journaling to proactive advocacy work.’

She believes society needs to accept what is different and not to judge without knowing or understanding why people behave the way they do. ‘We need to care about families grappling with disability and to give them a place in society. We all deserve our place in society, we deserve to be heard and understood,’ she said.

Fewster hopes her study will raise awareness about autism and provide information for intervention. She is currently working on her PhD that will focus on intervention mechanisms for these parents.

She paid tribute to her supervisor, Mrs Thavanesi Gurayah, who ‘instilled in me a passion for research’ and her husband ‘who spurred me on and supported me in so many ways’.

 Nombuso Dlamini

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UKZN Staff Member Wins Award at Cape Town Summit

UKZN Staff Member Wins Award at Cape Town Summit
Dr Thameshree Naidu.

Project Manager at the Centre for Rural Health, Dr Thameshree Naidu, won the award for the best abstract in Health System Strengthening at the Quality Improvement Summit in Cape Town.

The Public Health Medicine specialist said she was humbled and grateful that her important work was recognised.  Naidu manages the Quality of Care Project which is part of the Rural Academic Excellence Programme funded by Atlantic Philanthropy.

‘My presentation was about the methods we followed in designing a quality improvement strategy to help a rural district meet the compliance requirements for the National Core Standards,’ she said.

Naidu’s study titled: “A Risk Management Approach to Improving Compliance with the National Core Standards in a Rural District in KZN”, aimed to develop a risk management strategy to improve compliance with the National Core Standards.

The project was undertaken at four hospitals in the rural Umzinyathi Health District which is a National Health Insurance pilot district.

The target was hospital management teams comprising the Hospital CEO, the medical and nursing managers, the monitoring and evaluation managers, human resource managers, finance managers, quality managers and the infection and control managers.

‘I briefly touched on the results but shared more on the lessons learned from this work,’ said Naidu.

She said the results showed that all four district hospitals now had functioning risk management committees, a committee structure, clinical governance committees as well as committees that feed into those.

‘Members of the action learning sets experienced growth in their ability to problem solve with the assistance of their peers.  The risk registers have worked well and the development of a dashboard has provided meaningful information for managers. Overall, the hospitals improved their compliance with core standards,’ she said.

Naidu says when working in a rural district, logistics and distances are challenging with problems being competing responsibilities and finding time to sit down in an action learning set. As members saw the benefits and results of the project they became committed to excellence in the workplace.

‘We learned that having support from higher levels and integrating changes into the staff’s key performance areas are key to change,’ said Naidu.

She said the win was unexpected since it was in an area of work poorly understood and which did not get much attention. ‘I am delighted it was seen as scientifically sound,’ said Naidu.

The Quality Improvement Summit, organised parallel to the Hospital Association of South Africa Conference, aimed to share innovations and quality improvement work in the healthcare sector across different programmes, levels and institutions.

Naidu’s research interest is in Health System Strengthening and Improvement Science and she will be submitting an abstract for the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare in Sweden in April next year.

‘The forum brings together health care leaders and practitioners to support the field of improvement science as a method to improve health outcomes for patients and communities,’ explained Naidu.

She said it promotes practical ideas and innovations that can be implemented as well as research into quality and safety improvement.

 Nombuso Dlamini

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Young Scientist Wins Award for Oral Presentation

Young Scientist Wins Award for Oral Presentation
Ms Rivona Harricharan.

A UKZN Masters student in Physiology (Neuroscience), Ms Rivona Harricharan, won first prize for her oral presentation at the College of Health Sciences Research Symposium.

The study titled: “The Role of the Pyroptotic Pathway in a Tat-induced Stressed Model of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder”, aimed to provide insight into whether pyroptosis could be a contributing factor leading to cell death and the development of HIV-related neuropathology.

The young scientist said she was shocked, excited and mostly humbled about delivering a winning presentation. ‘I want to congratulate everyone who participated in the Symposium as I felt there was a remarkable level of research this year. I am incredibly thankful for my prize as it will afford me the opportunity to represent UKZN and also gain international exposure in my field of research.’

According to Harricharan, a lot of previous studies have focused on how HIV affects the rest of the body but there is little information about how HIV affects the brain. ‘We do know that HIV kills neurons (brain cells) but we want to understand exactly how it does that.  Since we cannot collect brains from humans, we used rats to create a model of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder.

‘While antiretroviral drugs are helping HIV-infected people live longer, these people have a greater chance of developing HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder. People who are affected by the disorder have symptoms like memory loss, problems with movement and changes in their behaviour. We wanted to know whether brain cells could die by a process called pyroptosis in our model of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder,’ she explained.

Harricharan investigated the role of pyroptosis (the programmed cell death pathway which results in an inflammatory response) as a possible contributing factor to the development of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder.

She said the results of the study were novel, ‘But we do understand that it is only a starting point as there are several aspects of the association between pyroptosis, neuroinflammation and HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder that require further investigation.’ said Harricharan.

She said the study provided preliminary data and insight into the mechanism of pyroptosis in a model of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder.  According to Harricharan, this information will form the foundation of further studies that aim to understand this association.

‘Novel information, like that generated from our study, also contributes to the expanding database of scientific knowledge which aims to attenuate the development and progression of human diseases, thereby improving the quality of life for people.’

She acknowledged Dr V Thaver, Professor W Daniels and fractional professor, Professor V Russell for their contribution to the project.

Harricharan is currently involved in an additional study focusing on depression and wants to become involved in clinical research.

In 2014 she won awards at the School of Laboratory Medicine & Medical Sciences Research Symposium and the Physiology Society of Southern Africa conference.

Harricharan is passionate about community upliftment and creating awareness through education.  She has a Facebook page, Neuroscience in Africa, which disseminates information about neurological disorders in simple terms. The page also aims to reduce the stigma/stereotypes attached to neurological conditions.

Nombuso Dlamini

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Nursing Students Spread REACH Values

Nursing Students Spread REACH Values
Nursing students and academics promote REACH.

The REACH principles of Respect and Accountability were emphasised during a stage play on the Howard College campus by second year Nursing students.

Before the play began, the students, clad in red and yellow, described the value of lecturers, nursing professional service’s staff and students from first to fourth year.

According to student Nurse, Ms Tholakele Mkhize, accountability is taking responsibility for your actions and behaviour. ‘As a Nurse I am accountable for all my actions and I must always provide care to patients. My actions must always be to the benefit of the patient and providing care to the patient should always be a priority.

‘We all use the word respect quite often,’ said student Nurse, Mr Njabulo Khumalo. ‘But what does it mean?’ For Khumalo respect means appreciation of the worth or excellence of a person.

‘We should all respect ourselves. Each one of us is created in God’s image. Each one of us is unique, a very special creation of God, therefore each one of us should value ourselves highly and respect our elders, who include our parents, leaders of our generation and teachers. In doing so, we are respecting not only their age but their wisdom and the good they have done in society.’

The play, produced by the students with the assistance of lecturer, Mrs Silingene Ngcobo, examined how respect and accountability were central in nursing care.

It portrayed how a lack of respect for patients dehumanises them and how disrespect contributes to abuse and ill treatment.

Nursing student, Ms Skye Lee Crouch, said respect was not an emotion, ‘It is an action we perform as nurses. It is something we do to show others we value them. Showing respect is one way we can show compassion in our nursing care and bring healing to someone during a compromising time of illness and loss.’

According to Crouch, the play’s story line aimed to showcase to the audience that great nurses respect people and rules. ‘They remain impartial at all times and are mindful of confidentiality requirements and different cultures and traditions. Above all, they respect the wishes of the patient.  Nurses who respect others are highly respected in return,’ she added.

Nursing HoD, Professor Gugu Mchunu, commended the nurses’ initiative and enthusiasm in living the University’s REACH principles.

 Nombuso Dlamini

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UKZN Medical Students Assist on Health Day

UKZN Medical Students Assist on Health Day
Dentistry students with patients at the Health Day.

First, second and fourth year Medical students together with their final year Dentistry colleagues screened about 100 people for diabetes mellitus, hypertension, TB, and HIV and provided education on oral health and general hygiene practices as their contribution on Health Day.

The students, all members of UKZN Friends of Médecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) (FoMSF), hosted a Health Day community outreach initiative for Mayville and Cato Manor communities.

The students worked in collaboration with the NGO, iThemba Lethu, the UKZN HIV/AIDS Programme and the Dentistry Discipline of UKZN’s Westville campus to deliver a quality service to the community.

They provided folk with free health packs which included toothpaste, a toothbrush, soap, Dettol, Vaseline and tissues.  Referrals were made to the Cato Manor clinic for further management.

Chairperson of the UKZN FoMSF, Ms Lisha Jeena, said the students were thrilled to engage with the community and to practise the skills they had learned on campus.

The screening was opened to all persons aged 18 and above. Younger people attended oral health and hygiene clinics.

Mr Andile Simelane of the iThembalethu organisation praised the students’ initiative and said he hoped he could continue to collaborate with them in bringing health services closer to the people and at their convenience. ‘We have always wanted to do this kind of initiative and this collaboration is working well for us,’ said Simelane.

Medical student and UKZN FoMS Fexecutive member, Ms Carmen Karina de Melo, said: ‘We are happy about the turn out because we worked hard to make the event a success. The team worked very well and we are happy that the community appreciated our presence.’

Jeena said: ‘We strive to enrich and empower ourselves and our community through sharing and engaging with health-related issues and responding to the health needs of our community.’

She said the initiative was inspired by the Cato Crest community and a call by the sisters at the Cato Manor clinic. ‘We decided to organise a community outreach initiative to target the “BIG 5 of Health Care”.’

The team acknowledged its sponsors: the South African Medical Association (SAMA); the UKZN Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine Skills Department; SPAR and the UKZN College of Health Science’s staff and students.

‘We look forward to expanding our outreach through bigger and bolder events,’ Jeena said.

 Nombuso Dlamini

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Nursing Students REACH for Respect

Nursing Students REACH for Respect
Nursing students with their Lecturer Mrs Ann Jarvis.

UKZN Bachelor of Nursing (BN) 4th year Psychiatric Nursing students completed their Community Mental Health projects with an awards ceremony for Montarena Secondary School learners who participated in an essay writing competition.

The six BN students - Ms Thandeka Chili, Ms Preashni Chetty, Ms Nikita Trentleman, Ms Danell Brand, Ms Nothile Khuzwayo and Ms Buyi Nkosi) - were assigned to the Chatsworth school at the beginning of the semester to undertake a mental health project.

Chili said the team decided to promote mental health through the extension into the community of one of UKZN’s REACH values – Respect.

‘We implemented a number of projects at the school focusing particularly on self-esteem and self-respect,’ said Chili.

She said like any other project they encountered challenges but with the help of the teachers and their mentor and Lecturer, Mrs Ann Jarvis, they were able to rise above all adversities.

‘We managed to highlight this value to about 200 children in Grade 8 and 9,’ added Chili.

The team held several theme-based workshops during the learners’ relief periods. They had group activities where they discussed a number of issues related to teenagers and self-respect.

Khuzwayo said they managed to form different clubs for girls where they discussed all components of respect, including environment, home, school, peers and self-love.

The writing competition was one of the many projects the students conducted, inviting Grade 8 and 9 learners to write an essay about respect and self-love.

The top six participants received certificates for their work and participation.

Chili said they were happy with what they had achieved. ‘At the beginning it was not easy. Gaining the learners’ attention was challenging.’

Khuzwayo said the experience made her realise that she had to be mentally fit and sound to deal with different types of behaviour and mentalities.  ‘Initially most of the learners didn’t pay attention and were very disruptive. But by the time we completed our project they were very attentive, participative and respectful.’

Nombuso Dlamini

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