Best Research Paper for Social Work Academic at National Doctoral Conference

Best Research Paper for Social Work Academic at National Doctoral Conference
Ms Thembelihle Makhanya (left) received her award from NIHSS Academic Director, Dr Nthabiseng Motsemme.

Social Work lecturer, Ms Thembelihle Makhanya received an award for the best research paper at the Annual National Doctoral Conference (ANDC) in Gauteng. The conference was organised by the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) under the theme, Building and Dynamising the Humanities and Social Sciences.

A total of 110 papers was presented, with seven being shortlisted for the award and the first and second best papers received a prize. The judging criteria included papers that were relevant and well-articulated to meet the requirements and theme of the conference. Makhanya emerged as the first prize winner for her research on students’ experiences of (de) coloniality in Higher Education based on the Social Work programme at a South African university in KwaZulu-Natal.

The study also examined the influence of colonialism on social work education and practice and explored how the university is responding or failing to respond to the call for decolonisation of South African education. It focused on the extent to which the university’s educational offerings support or marginalise African students’ value systems, languages, cultures, epistemologies and philosophies. 

‘There is a need for decolonial Higher Education that is founded on the needs of the poor and to free social work education from colonial pedagogical and epistemological teaching and learning,’ said Makhanya. ‘Universities offering social work education should focus on transformation, not only in terms of access but in terms of an African-centred curriculum.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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BELS hosts Paravolley Training

BELS hosts Paravolley Training
UKZN students: the first sitting volleyball coaches in the province.

The Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences (BELS) at UKZN, eThekwini Paravolleyball, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sports and Recreation and Paravolley SA came together to host the first Level 1 sitting volleyball coaching course in the province. The three-day course was attended by teachers, coaches, volleyball players, healthcare professionals and sport scientists.

Course tutors, Mr Nathan Pretorius and Mr Anton Raimondo were very pleased with the results. ‘I loved the passion of the coaches,’ said Pretorius. Both promised to continue to help develop the sport. 

UKZN alumnus Ms Zamile Nduli and UKZN student and national beach volleyball player, Mr Sanele Zwane achieved the top results of 94.55%.

All coaches who received a diploma have the opportunity to progress to World ParaVolley International certification.

Chemical Engineering graduate, Ms Riley Somiah, a certified World ParaVolleyBall Level 1 Coach (Mozambique 2018), also finished top of the class. Somiah also assisted at the coaching course. ‘I feel this batch of certified coaches will definitely go back to their communities and have a positive impact on the growth of sitting volleyball within KwaZulu-Natal,’ said Somiah.

BELS Academic Leader, Dr Rowena Naidoo congratulated all who attended the workshop. She noted that sitting volleyball is growing steadily in KwaZulu-Natal, as it is a sport which can be played by both disabled and non-disabled athletes.

She added that the University will host the sitting volleyball national championship in 2020. ‘The event will be hosted in collaboration with UKZN Sport (Westville campus). The UKZN volleyball team is planning to enter a team, and will be going for gold!’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photographs: Supplied


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Residence Life Academic and Leadership Awards

Residence Life Academic and Leadership Awards
Highlights from the Residence Life Academic and Leadership Awards.

Each year, UKZN bestows academic and leadership awards on students living in residences and serving as Residence Assistants and on House Committees. This year’s event for the Howard College and Medical School campuses was hosted by the Department of Student Residence Affairs (DSRA) at the Square Boutique Hotel in Umhlanga.

Reflecting on the past year, Mr Sifundo Nkosi, Head of the DSRA for the two campuses said that he hoped that students would continue to learn, grow and be challenged as leaders. He thanked all Residence Assistants and House Committee members for their efforts in resolving student issues. ‘We congratulate those students who are balancing student leadership and academics, because it is not an easy task. Students’ primary goal is to excel academically but it is also important to attain leadership skills,’ said Nkosi.

Dr Nomfundo Ngema, Residence Life Coordinator (Howard College campus) noted that, ‘A good leader is one who can articulate a clear vision through humility, integrity and honesty.’

DSRA Manager, Mr Kgotla Marumola, thanked the students who had sacrificed their time to become leaders for “being selfless”. He also thanked the Residence Life team made up of House Committee members, Residence Assistants, Residence Life Coordinators, Residence Life Officers and the Student Representative Council (SRC). Marumola urged students to acknowledge how fortunate they are to attend university: ‘You need to recognise that the ground you are walking on is holy.’

Mr Lukhona Mnguni, PhD Intern Researcher at UKZN’s Maurice Webb Race Relations Unit, focused on the role of education in the lives of African graduates. He asserted that, ‘it’s important for us to take our education and go back and educate our parents and leaders.’ Noting that only five percent of South Africans are fortunate enough to attend university, Mnguni said that excellence should be measured by students having a positive impact on society. He encouraged students to not only focus on where they come from, but also on where they are going and noted that they should enjoy university by, ‘owning the spaces that they occupy, appreciating the moment that they are in and creating meaning for themselves in that moment.’

Words: Hlengiwe Precious Khwela

Photographs: Itumeleng Masa


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Asoka Theatre Legacy Lives On

Asoka Theatre Legacy Lives On
Photograph of the play Looking for Muruga featuring the late Sherwin Christopher, Dante Mashile and Satchu Annamalai. On the right is the cover of the book: A Century of South African Theatre.

The legacy of the once culturally vibrant Asoka Theatre on the Westville campus lives on in a new book, A Century of South African Theatre, by Professor Loren Kruger of the University of Chicago.

The book, an extensively revised update of Kruger’s 1999 work The Drama of South Africa, features the landmark play Looking for Muruga as part of its analysis of significant theatre productions in the KwaZulu-Natal region. The play was penned by Professor Kriben Pillay of UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership.

‘Looking for Muruga was part of the immense creative output of the Asoka Theatre, home of the former University of Durban-Westville’s Drama Department, which began with the socio-political influences of the early 80s, shifting the curriculum from solely Eurocentric works to also creating local content,’ said Pillay.

Also featured in the play anthology, Beyond Bollywood and BroadwayLooking for Muruga was noted for its nuanced blending of theatrical styles, with its mix of social commentary, satire, and self-reflexivity.

‘When the play opened in 1990, there was some criticism of using a Black African actor to portray the Hindu deity Muruga,’ said Pillay. ‘However, this was a knee jerk racist reaction by critics who did not see the actual play but went by the publicity photographs. If anything, the play helped break racial stereotypes and we went on to perform for more than a year throughout three provinces in the country. It was the first play of its kind to perform at the then Whites-only Natal Performing Arts Council (now the Playhouse Company). It also played in Hyderabad in South India in 1999 in an adapted version. In its own small way, it broke many barriers. Professor Kruger’s book helps record the legacy of the Drama Department and the Asoka Theatre and the contribution they made to South African theatre. In this respect, Looking for Muruga is a symbol of an era that includes many noteworthy contributors; I am just one,’ said Pillay, who lamented that the full history of the Asoka Theatre has yet to be recorded.

Video records of the play and similar performance material can be accessed on YouTube at the UDW Asoka Theatre channel.

Words: Ndabaonline

Photographs: Supplied


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Legal History in the Making

Legal History in the Making
At the Palace of Justice, Pretoria, from left: Ms Michaela Steytler, Mr Bonginkosi Shozi, Mr Ntokozo Mnyandu, Dr Donrich Thaldar, Mr Meshandren Naidoo, Ms Amy Gooden, and Ms Tamanda Kamwendo.Click here for isiZulu version

Dr Donrich Thaldar, a senior lecturer in the School of Law and human rights expert, acted as counsel on behalf of Voice of the Unborn Baby in a landmark case in the Pretoria High Court.

Across cultures, burial or cremation is an important way for people to say their final goodbyes to loved ones. Psychologists note that burial or cremation can fulfil a crucial role in the grieving process. It helps those left behind to come to terms with the reality of the loss, while being supported by family and friends.

At the opposite end of the cycle is the beginning of life. Due to technologies like ultrasound, expectant parents can now see their unborn baby in the mother’s womb weeks or even months before the baby is born. This has contributed to parents starting to emotionally bond with their unborn baby more intensely before its birth.

In the tragic event of a miscarriage, many parents feel a great sense of loss which, for them, is the same as the loss of a child that was already born. The same can often be the case with termination of pregnancy. It should be remembered that termination may be as a result of a severe medical condition that is diagnosed in the unborn baby. In these heart-breaking cases, parents feel that it is better to end the life of their much-wanted unborn child than to bring the child into a very brief life of pain and suffering. If we are a compassionate society, we must surely give these parents our love, support, and understanding.

However, according to current South African law, an unborn child that is miscarried (born dead before 26 weeks of gestation) or perishes in a termination of pregnancy procedure cannot be buried or cremated. The remains are simply handled as medical waste, and unceremoniously incinerated with other such waste. Bereaved parents are legally banned from choosing to have a proper, dignified burial (or cremation) for their unborn child.

Voice of the Unborn Baby NPC was established in 2015 to fight for bereaved parents’ right to choose how they want to dispose of the remains of their unborn child after a miscarriage or termination of pregnancy – be it by burial or cremation. The Pretoria High Court heard Voice of the Unborn Baby’s application during the week of 11 November 2019. The application was opposed by the Minister of Health and the Minister of Home Affairs.

Thaldar used the case as a learning experience for his postgraduate students, five of whom accompanied him to the court hearing.

‘The evidence that we read to prepare for the case was over a thousand pages. It was quite a challenge, but very interesting!’ commented Ms Tamanda Kamwendo, a PhD student.

‘Only a fraction of the submissions before the court eventually end up in a reported judgment,’ said Mr Ntokozo Mnyandu, a developmental lecturer at the School of Law who accompanied Dr Thaldar and his students. ‘By being in court we gained insight into the “bigger picture” of this case – one that will certainly make legal history.’

Mr Bonginkosi Shozi, a PhD student remarked: ‘When Dr Thaldar gave his closing argument, I felt chills. This was an exciting opportunity to experience the law in action.’

Judgment is expected during the first term of 2020.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN AIDS Researcher Ranked Among the World’s Most Highly Cited Researchers in 2019

UKZN AIDS Researcher Ranked Among the World’s Most Highly Cited Researchers in 2019
Professor Salim Abdool Karim, UKZN AIDS researcher.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim is on the 2019 list of the world’s most Highly Cited Researchers published by the Web of Science’s Clarivate Analytics. Abdool Karim, Director of CAPRISA and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UKZN was also part of this list in 2018. He is a professor at three ivy-league universities – Columbia, Cornell and Harvard – in the USA.

Each year, the Web of Science produces a list of the world’s most highly cited researchers which contains about 6 000 names, comprising less than 1% of researchers globally. This year, it features 6 217 Highly Cited Researchers in various fields from nearly 60 nations and includes 23 Nobel Laureates. The analysis includes 21 broad research fields (including the social sciences) and includes cross-field performance, as some Highly Cited Researchers appear in more than one field.

According to David Pendlebury, Senior Citation Analyst at the Institute for Scientific Information, ‘The Highly Cited Researchers list contributes to the identification of that small fraction of the researcher population that contributes disproportionately to extending the frontiers of knowledge. These researchers create gains for society, innovation and knowledge that make the world healthier, richer, more sustainable and more secure.’

The United States is home to the highest number of Highly Cited Researchers, followed by the United Kingdom and China. About 15 researchers from Africa appear on the list, including one from UKZN. Researchers from the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, and Pretoria, and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) are some of the other South Africans featured.

Words: Smita Maharaj

Photograph: Supplied


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Social Work Academic Wins Prestigious Awards at ICOSS Conference

Social Work Academic Wins Prestigious Awards at ICOSS Conference
UKZN academic, Dr Sibonsile Zibane.

Social Work lecturer, Dr Sibonsile Zibane received awards for Best Overall Presentation and Session’s Best Presentation at the 6th International Conference on Social Sciences (ICOSS) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Zibane also walked away with four certificates, two gold medals and gold club membership of The International Institute of Knowledge Management.

‘Being recognised at an international platform is a real honour and it feels absolutely amazing,’ she said.

Her award-winning research paper that was presented at the conference explored the ways in which boys and girls construct their gender and sexuality, focusing on the games boys play as an instantiation of violent masculine conduct.

‘Violence in or around South African schools has been increasingly reported by the media as one of the biggest challenges facing young people in South Africa today,’ said Zibane.

Framed within a feminist paradigm, her research shows how boys use and deploy violent gender relations which are masked as games. ‘Such invisible acts of violence are not reported and continue to feature in the everyday life of school under the guise of play,’ said Zibane.

She argues for interventions that seek to understand the game cultures of schools as important sites for the making of violent masculinities and to address the hidden nature of the violence within them.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Ukulinga Research Farm Part of Global Study

Ukulinga Research Farm Part of Global Study
Professor Kevin Kirkman at the NutNet site at Ukulinga Research Farm.

Ukulinga Research Farm at UKZN is the only research site in Africa that forms part of a research network recently featured in Nature Communications, in an article that described the first ‘global-scale experiment to realistically determine the available nitrogen in grasslands on six continents.’

Professor Kevin Kirkman from Grassland Science at UKZN is one of the authors of the study that contributes to a better understanding of nutrient cycles in grasslands. According to lead author Anita Risch from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, grasslands cover ‘almost a third of the earth’s surface and have enormous significance for nutrient cycles, including the carbon cycle and the greenhouse gas CO2.’

The study concerns soil nitrogen mineralisation, an important process for productivity and nutrient cycling. By examining the balance between mineralisation and immobilisation under various soil and climate conditions, researchers were able to produce a field-based global-scale assessment of soil nitrogen mineralisation that analysed the drivers of this process across 30 grasslands worldwide, linking their data to factors such as temperature, soil clay content and microbial mass. The study demonstrated that field measurements differed considerably from laboratory measurements.

‘We now better understand what happens in the nitrogen cycle under natural conditions worldwide. This is important if we want to understand the impact of man-made global changes such as over-fertilisation of ecosystems,’ said Risch.

Risch and colleagues from the Nutrient Network (NutNet) project employed the same equipment and methods to measure nitrogen conversion in 30 natural grassland ecosystems worldwide directly in the soil. NutNet collaborators reproduced identical experiments on sites across nine countries to observe the results.

‘The long-term experiments at Ukulinga are increasingly recognised and contributing to global ecological studies,’ said Kirkman of the long-term mowing and burning trials that have been running at Ukulinga since the 1950s, making them one of the longest-running ecological experiments in the world.

Words and Photograph: Christine Cuénod


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Showcasing Research While Celebrating Industry Partnerships

Showcasing Research While Celebrating Industry Partnerships
Members of UKZN’s Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab showcase their research.

Research and innovation to improve and contribute to society is the main foundation of the work of the School of Engineering’s five Disciplines, and was the focus of the Engineering Research Expo and Industry Awards at the UNITE Building on the Howard College campus.

The Research Exposition was established to showcase the research and innovation pioneered over the past year at the School. Students and staff pulled out all the stops and visitors were treated to a range of research projects that fall under the five Disciplines.

Exciting projects on display included the Environmental Fluids Mechanics Lab; the Power Systems Research Group; the Pollution Research Group; the Solar Hydro Autonomous Research Cruiser; the Power Line Robotics Research Group; the Rocket Upper Stage Rotating Cold Gas Thruster System; the Phoenix-1B Mk I Rocket; and the Smart Dispenser Non-Prescription Medication Machine, amongst others.

The Research Expo was followed by the Industry and Research Awards Ceremony where researchers and industrial partners were recognised for their contribution to the advancement of research and innovation within UKZN’s School of Engineering.

More than 30 institutions across the country contributed to research, innovation and the growth of engineering at UKZN during 2019, including Armscor, the Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Moses Kotane Institute, Pelchem, Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), KZN Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Eskom, eThekwini Municipality, National Research Foundation (NRF), South African Sugar Industry (SASI), SASOL, the Sugar Milling Research Institute (SMRI), Study Trust, Telkom, Transnet, Umgeni Water, the Water Research Commission (WRC), KZN Department of Public Works, Albert Wessel Trust, Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Engen, KZN Department of Transport, South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL), IFPRI, South African Pulp and Paper Industries (SAPPI), SAPREF, South32, Fulton Trust, Johnson & Matthey, Career Wise, ABSA, Shell SA, SAMRI and Arcelormittal.

Dean of the School of Engineering, Professor Glen Bright acknowledged the industry partners’ key contributions to research and investment in the School.

‘Investment in the School of Engineering through bursaries, research and equipment has made an immense contribution to knowledge generation. It has elevated UKZN Engineering’s scientific visibility to global standing. The School of Engineering humbly acknowledges the support from our industrial partners and would like to express our gratitude and appreciation,’ he said.

‘This event celebrates the immense contributions made by industry that ensure that the School’s research and innovation efforts are relevant and serve the country’s needs.’

Words: Zolile Duma

Photograph: Albert Hirasen


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Tourism Students Visit Heritage Sites

Tourism Students Visit Heritage Sites
Cultural and Heritage Tourism students and staff during their field trip.

A group of students and lecturers from the Discipline of Cultural and Heritage Tourism within the School of Social Sciences recently visited the northern KwaZulu-Natal battlefields, Shakaland (Eshowe) and the Isimangaliso Wetland Park as part of their introductory and research modules.

The critical tour helped the students to learn more about the key heritage sites in relation to the application of relevant theoretical concepts they are introduced to in class. The personal visit to the various sites and the experience of being a tourist are central learning outcomes of their module.

Lecturer Dr Mabuyi Gumede said, ‘The fieldtrip is a learning exercise that helps the students to rethink, review and reconceptualise their attitudes towards heritage sites, ie, appreciate their significance, respect the need for their existence and conservation, realise their social, political, economic value and appreciate the need for more community education about the heritage sites.’

The three-day trip was an informative and exciting excursion. The group visited the Blood River/Ncome Museum to learn about the significance of this heritage site in the history of South Africa and differences in the apartheid approach to heritage issues and that in the democratic era.

The focus at Shakaland (Eshowe) was on Zulu culture, through a Shaka Zulu movie, a cultural tour and traditional performances. At Isimangaliso Wetland Park, students experienced first-hand the wonders this World Heritage Site offers the tourist while also participating in various activities that focus mainly on natural resources.

Student Ms Dintle Masondo said, ‘This trip broadened my understanding of the tourism field. I learnt that time management, accountability and efficiency are vital in the tourism industry. I wish that more students could participate in it as it exposes one to the realities of this industry.’

Fellow student Mr Siyabonga Jwara commented, ‘Visiting these sites enhanced our understanding of them. We were able to interlink some of the concepts that we were introduced to in class such as heritage authenticity, staged authenticity and heritage commodification. It is better to see a heritage site once than to hear about it a thousand times. The fieldtrip left us with great travel experience, opened our hearts, broadened our minds and filled our lives with stories to share with generations to come.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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Local Governance Conference Unpacks the Ethical Dilemma in the Public Sector

Local Governance Conference Unpacks the Ethical Dilemma in the Public Sector
From left: Professor PS Reddy, Dr P Kariuki, Mr H Suhr, Mr N Ngidi and Professor D Ramjugernath.

Professor Purshottama Reddy of the School of Management, IT and Governance in collaboration with the Democracy Development Programme (DDP) and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) in Durban hosted the ninth local government conference themed: Ethical Leadership in the Public Sector in South Africa.

Reddy said, ‘The theme was opportune, relevant and appropriate. With 25 years of democracy there has been progress made in many quarters; however, there have also been constraints with the singular most important one being ethical leadership in the public sector, which has resulted in the negation of positive gains post 1994. The appointment of the Zondo Committee of Enquiry and the state of SOEs bear ample testimony to that fact; we do not have a good story to tell.

‘We are at crossroads; it can be business as usual, with the resultant effect of a failed state or we can change the narrative and the storyline. Critical to the process is public functionaries who are patriotic and working in the interests of our citizenry and ultimately good governance and sustainability.’

Dignitaries who addressed the conference included: Dr P Kariuki (DDP Executive Director), Professor D Ramjugernath (Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at UKZN), Mr H Suhr (KAS), Professor N Holtzhausen (University of Pretoria), Dr B Brand (University of Stellenbosch), Mr B Sikhakhane, Professor D Chetty (Durban University of Technology), Dr M Makgae, Professor P Sithole (University of Free State), Professor R Thakathi (University of Fort Hare), Professor E Mantzaris (Mangosuthu University of Technology) and Mr N Ngidi (Special Advisor to the KZN Premier).

In his keynote address, Ngidi stressed that ethics as a compass of our behaviour is critical because it is an assurance that a country does not degenerate to anarchy.

‘Ethical living starts at the top. If institutions want to succeed in their mission of service delivery, this has to start with ethical leaders. Most times, government officials and leaders in general are quick to deny corruption, yet we see it every day.’

‘As important as conferences like this one are, we need to take action against corruption and not just have conversations about it. Talking on its own will not solve the problem. We need a clear programme that addresses ethical leadership,’ he added.

Among the many excellent presentations, the discussion on the Springbok win was a popular one as many saw it as an indication of what is possible and as proof that the country has the capacity to be a winning nation if it practices inclusiveness and adopts a single nationally defined vision - a unified view on rooting out corruption.

Other academics from the School of Management, IT and Governance who participated in the programme were Dr Bongani Qwabe, Professor Thokozani Nzimakwe, Professor J Govender and Dean and Head of School, Professor Stephen Mutula.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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Science Through the Lens of Photography

Science Through the Lens of Photography
Highlights from the Lifeblood Exhibition held at the Community Art Gallery.

Lifeblood, an exhibition of photographs by Mr Samora Chapman, was launched on 24 October at the Community Art Gallery in Durban. Curated by UKZN Professor and Director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) Tulio de Oliveira, it aimed to highlight the diversity of humans, plants and animals in South Africa.

The project, which was a collaboration between KRISP, Genomics Africa and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) DIPLOMICS programme, sought to combined science and art, with the art pieces accompanied by scientific facts. ‘We asked Chapman to take pictures that captured the genetic diversity around us in Durban and the great biodiversity,’ said de Oliveira.

The launch was attended by around 200 people, who enjoyed engaging with the work and exploring the wonders of science from a different and fresh perspective.

Thanking de Oliveira and his team for their support, Chapman said that he created a narrative for the exhibition by pairing images that speak to both diversity and biodiversity and highlight the parallels between them. ‘Throughout the project, what I found fascinating were the common threads that connect us, despite our differences, and ultimately make us the same,’ he said. ‘This project helped me to grow my own body of work and I got the chance to shoot wildlife for the first time, which was a real challenge for me as a street photographer,’ he added.

The project was another exciting initiative by KRISP to make science more accessible to the public and followed a business breakfast on Diabetes and Genomics. KRISP is planning further activities in the new year to engage the public on science in new and different ways.

As part of the DIPLOMICS partnership with other genomics laboratories, there are plans for the exhibition to travel to other cities in 2020, including Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Stellenbosch.

The exhibition is also available online, together with a podcast from the artist and scientific facts and resources to support the photographs. 

Visit http://genomics.africa/lifeblood to learn more and the KRISP website for a short video of the event: http://www.krisp.org.za/news.php?id=338

Words: Hlengiwe Precious Khwela

Photographs: Itumeleng Masa


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I-CHS Ithakasele Izinga Lokuphumelela KoMabhalane Abakhulu

I-CHS Ithakasele Izinga Lokuphumelela KoMabhalane Abakhulu
IKolishi lezeSayensi yezeMpilo liklomelise oMabhalane Abakhulu nabathole iziqu zeMastazi emcimbini wakusihlwa.Click here for English version

IKolishi lezeSayensi yezeMpilo e-UKZN belinomcimbi wesibili wokuklomelisa oMabhalane Abakhulu eMhlanga ukubungaza labo abaphumelele ukuhlolwa e-College of Medicine of SA (e-CMSA), ongoti abangakagcwali nalabo abazuze iziqu zeMastazi kwezoKwelapha (ama-MMED).

UMholi woHlelo lokuQeqeshwa koMabhalane Abakhulu, uDkt Suvira Ramlall, uthe: ‘SiyiKolishi lezeSayensi yezeMpilo, siyaziqhenya ngokusho ukuthi izinga lokuphasa ekuhlolweni likhuphukile lisuka kumaphesenti awu-43 ngowezi-2018, laya kumaphasenti awu-57 ngesigaba sokuqala nesesibili ngowezi-2019, ngezinga elingamaphesenti awu-70 ngesigaba sesibili ekuhlolweni kwalaba abaqala ukuba wongoti. IKolishi Lezifundo ZezeMpilo liphasise abafundi abangama-96 kuMastazi kwezoKwelapha ngowezi-2019. Yinto enkulu edinga ukuthakaselwa lena.’

U-Ramlall uthe ziningi izinto ezingaba yimbangela yokwenyuka kwezinga lokuphumelela njengokuthi ezinyangeni eziyishumi nesishiyagalombili ezedlule, uMnyango wezeMpilo ne-UKZN bavumelene ngenqubo yokubheka nokweseka oMabhalane Abakhulu. Lokhu bakwenze ezingeni labantu ngamunye nasezikhungweni abakuzo kwezemfundo, kwezokweluleka ngengqondo nasekuqeqesheni.

Kuma-Registrar Awards angowezi-2019 bekukhona imiklomelo ekhethekile i-Good Fellow Award, i-Best Registrar Research Award ne-Best Clinician Teacher Award.

IPhini leSekelashansela eKolishi, uSolwazi Busi Ncama, uthe: ‘OMabhalane Abakhulu kudingeka basebenze ngokuzikhandla noma sebeshayisile emsebenzini kepha bebe beqhuba izifundo zabo. Silapha ukuzobahalalisela ngomsebenzi wabo obongekayo kwezempilo esifundazweni sethu. Akuvamile ukuthi lezi zinsika kwezempilo zibongwe, ziklonyeliswe.’

IDini eyiNhloko yeSikole KwezokweLapha e-UKZN, uSolwazi Ncoza Dlova, inxuse ongoti abasha ukuthi bashintshe indlela okwenziwa izinto ngayo kulo mkhakha. ‘Khumbulani ukuthi oMabhalane bazobukela kinina, ngakho yibani yisibonelo. Uma nithatha lezo zikhundla, nikhumbule ukuthi ubuholi abusho ukuziqhayisa kepha busho ukusebenza nokuba ngabaholi abazinikele ukusebenzela abantu.’

Isikhulumi esiqavile, uSolwazi Mike Sethekge, umcwaningi ohlonishwayo emhlabeni neNhloko yoMnyango we-Nuclear Medicine e-University of Pretoria, sibalule umsebenzi omuhle ekwelashweni komdlavuza eNingizimu Afrika.

Ama-MMED Research Awards atholwe yizo zonke izikole okungeseZokweLapha, ese-Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, ese-Nursing and Public Health nese-Health Sciences.

Onqobe i-Good Fellow Award ukhethwe ngabalingani bakhe. Lapha kuklonyeliswa oMabhalane Abakhulu abakhombisa ukwehluka kwabanye ngokwesimilo sabo nokwenza okungaphezu komsebenzi abawuqashelwe. Ama-Registrar Awards aklomelisa uMabhalane Omkhulu nothisha ovelele eKolishi lezeSayensi yezeMpilo.

UNkk Julia Taylor wase-Investec engabanye babaxhasi, uthe: ‘Kunika ithemba ukubona ubuhle obunje endimeni yezempilo, impela ezempilo zisezandleni ezifanele kanti siyaziqhenya ukubambisana neKolishi lezeSayensi yezeMpilo lase-UKZN. I-Investec izimisele ukutshala kakhulu endimeni yezempilo.’

Amagama: ngu-Lihle Sosibo

Izithombe: Zithunyelwe yi-Investec


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Education Academic Wins National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award

Education Academic Wins National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award
UKZN academic, Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan.

School of Education academic Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan is a winner of the prestigious Council on Higher Education (CHE) Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award.

Professor Fayth Ruffin of the School of Management, IT and Governance also received the CHE-HELTASA Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award while Dr Msizi Mkhize of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance received a commendation.

The award recognises excellence in teaching and learning in Higher Education at a national level. Higher Education Institutions across the county were invited to nominate candidates for consideration at the national level. 

Recipients are recognised as serving as role models and providing leadership in advancing teaching excellence at their own institutions and more broadly in the Higher Education sector. A maximum of five awards are made annually.

Pithouse-Morgan’s scholarship is in the field of professional learning, with a specific focus on better understanding and supporting teachers as self-directed and self-developing learners. She believes it is essential for Higher Education teachers to strive to strengthen initiative shown by students and to set up an enduring sense of self-worth and a desire to learn and contribute that can propel students over future hurdles.

Pithouse-Morgan has been teaching for 25 years, first as a school teacher and now as a university-based teacher/educator. For the past two decades, she has been studying through self-study research. ‘One of the reasons why I am passionate about self-study research is that it is essentially optimistic,’ she said

One of the central requirements for quality in self-study research in education is to provide evidence of the value of the changes in the ways of being teachers. ‘This means that if you opt for self-study research you have to believe that your own professional learning and growth as a teacher are possible and necessary.’

For Pithouse-Morgan, one of the great gifts of self-study research is an optimistic commitment to moving somewhere new, with the intention of continually reimagining teaching and learning to make it relevant, interesting, and accessible to the students of today and tomorrow. ‘Optimism is hard to cultivate and sustain on your own. That is why I participate in and lead Higher Education teacher-learning communities at institutional, national, and international levels,’ she said.

Central to the work of these teacher-learning communities are academic mentoring of postgraduate students and early career academics, collaborative scholarship, and enhancing pedagogic innovation and impact. All of this work comes together to nourish optimism and creativity among Higher Education teachers.

‘I have been fortunate to receive mentoring from many exceptional Higher Education teachers in South Africa and internationally,’ said Pithouse-Morgan. ‘With this in mind, I am looking forward to walking in the footsteps of these remarkable teachers by working with colleagues as we continue to cultivate a Higher Education environment that is supportive of excellence in teaching and learning.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Law Lecturer Appointed as South African Ambassador for French Association

Law Lecturer Appointed as South African Ambassador for French Association
Ms Sheetal Soni.

Law lecturer, Ms Sheetal Soni has been appointed as South African ambassador for the Association of Ethics and Integrity (Association Ethique et Intégrité).

The non-profit organisation promotes research integrity, sound scientific practices and women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and has developed an international network of female academics across various disciplines.

As one of the lawyers who form part of the Association, Soni will assist with the collation of international and national laws relating to research integrity and ethics in the context of gene editing and other research.

She said that her initial reaction was one of surprise, as a chance meeting presented this opportunity. ‘I was in Paris attending an annual meeting when the founder of the Association introduced herself. She was curious as to why a lawyer was interested in genome editing and I explained that lawyers need to assist with drafting legal guidelines for regulation. Numerous conversations later, she invited me to become an active member and serve as the South African ambassador.

‘The appointment places me closer to where I would like to be in terms of my research - at the forefront of the activity surrounding emerging technology. Membership of international associations such as these offers an opportunity to directly engage in new developments. As an academic in Law, I am one of a minority who are engaging in research and providing input with respect to technology which will affect us all.

‘As a South African, I feel that the appointment is of immense significance. Gene editing technology is not currently available here; however, when clinical application inevitably begins, the Global South which stands to be most heavily impacted, and therefore the African voice, must be part of the conversation. Associations like these are building an international network, and want to understand our position in the global landscape. I am grateful to have the opportunity to make our voice heard.’

Soni is also assisting the South African National Department of Health to develop guidelines for the provision of clinical genetic services in the country.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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School of Social Sciences Finalises MOU with the University of Botswana

School of Social Sciences Finalises MOU with the University of Botswana
Representatives from UKZN and the University of Botswana.

The School of Social Sciences recently hosted a delegation of scholars from the University of Botswana (UB).

Acting Dean, Professor Vivian Ojong and the Dean of Humanities at UB, Professor Anderson Chebanne met Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize for a ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two universities.

Mkhize welcomed the University of Botswana delegation, which comprised Professor Nathan Mnjama (Information Studies), Ms Malebogo Kgalemang (Theology and Gender Studies) and Chebanne (Dean of Humanities) and spoke about the significance of the MOU and the partnership it heralded between the two African universities. The MOU had been formalised already, and the coming together of both the universities with the DVCs of the College, was meant to mark the significance of the linkage.

‘This is a momentous occasion, where we look to the side, our neighbours, and not to the North, but rather to our partners in the South,’ said Mkhize. He congratulated the School of Social Sciences for working hard over the last few months to bring the MOU to actualisation.

The MOU was made possible through the efforts of the School Internationalisation Task Team. The Team was made up of Professor Ojong (Acting Dean of School), Professor Maheshvari Naidu (Academic Leader of Researcher), Dr Christina Kgari-Masondo (School Cluster Leader) and School Manager Mr Sifiso Zulu.

Ojong commented on the significance and immense value of forging equal partnerships with African universities that shared a common strategic vision and transformation agenda. We need to see ourselves as equal knowledge producers, she said.

Naidu added that while MOUs are common, many sit dormant and inactive. ‘The task team was thus clear that we wanted to move rapidly and actualise the collaboration with concrete engagement between the universities that transcends the act of signing and documenting the collaboration,’ said Naidu. She also thanked the International office and Dr Tasmeera Singh for assisting with processing of the MOU.

In addition to meeting with the DVC, the UB delegation were invited as part of an inaugural School MOU event and the day was marked with a series of seminars entitled, Conversations around, De-coloniality, Indigenization and Africanisation. The Botswana delegation presented three papers while the UKZN respondents were: Dr Francis Garaba (Information Studies), Dr Fikile Vilakazi (Political Science and Gender) and Dr Janet Muthuki (Gender Studies). Early career academics, postdocs and postgraduate students in the School attended the seminars.

‘It was good to see our emerging academics participating. It gives them exposure to how academics in other universities and countries approach issues of research. I am sure our postdocs and PhD students also benefited and enjoyed engaging with other African Scholars on issues of coloniality and decoloniality,’ said Zulu.

‘Learning collaboratively with UB academics through seminars like these is already bringing the fruits of partnership as two projects have been identified. For me personally as an emerging academic, I have learnt that collaboration is the best strategy to help academics and students to publish and learn the ethics and practice of collaboration,’ said Kgari-Masondo. ‘This venture ties in with the philosophy of Ubuntu/botho as it focuses on the values of collaboration, participation, care and respect between partners. This MOU speaks directly to Africanisation ethics as it promulgates collaborative work rather than individualism which is more commonly practiced in the Humanities.’

‘The Dean and the Task Team are currently working with UB to send a group of PhD students to UB to participate in a research methodology workshop and engage with international staff and students, It is important that our students see themselves as positioned within the wider space of Africa and African scholarship, said Naidu.

‘We are also excited to begin working on collaborative projects with our new partners and create further research and teaching opportunities for our staff, especially emerging academics, added Ojong.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Isifundiswa sezesiNtu Sikhulume Ngengcindezi nokuziNakekela Esibhedlela i-McCord

Isifundiswa sezesiNtu Sikhulume Ngengcindezi nokuziNakekela Esibhedlela i-McCord
Kusuka kwesobunxele: Isikhulu esiphezulu sase-McCord Hospital, uDkt Jay Mannie; umhlengikazi omkhulu, uNks Sibongile Nyathikazi; noSolwazi Johannes John-Langba.Click here for English version

Isifundiswa sezeNhlalakahle, USolwazi Johannes John-Langba, wethule inkulumo ngengcindezi, ukukhathala nokuzinakekela kubasebenzi bezempilo nokunakekelwa kwabantu e-McCord Provincial Eye Hospital ngoSuku lokuziNakekela kwaBasebenzi.

UJohn-Langba ukhulume ngencindezi nezinto eziyibangayo, izindlela zokuphathwa kwengcindezi ezisebenzisa ukubheka indlelakuziphatha nokucabanga, ukuhlonza izinto oziphikisa ngazo, ukuhlonza imidlinzo enemiphumela engemihle nemithombo yengcindezi exhumene nendaw; ukubhekana nengcindezi emsebenzini nokuqonda ukukhathala.

‘Njengabantu abasiza abanye, sivame ukuzixaka ngokuthi kufanele sazi konke, singabi nasici. Uma sidumala noma siphatheka kabi emsebenzini, kumqoka ukuthi sibheke izinto esikholelwa kuzona ngomsebenzi ukuze sibone ukuthi zisenza sicabange kanjani ngawo,’ kusho yena. ‘Uma sikwazi ukuzandisela ingcindezi, kusho ukuthi siyakwazi ukuyinciphisa futhi.’

Ukubhekana nengcindezi ebangwa izinqubomgomo ezingalungile zasemsebenzini, uJohn-Langba weluleke abasebenzi bezempilo ukuthi bagxile ekushintsheni izinto la abasebenza khona kunokuzama ukushintsha inqubo yesikhungo abasebenza kuso. ‘Uma inqubo ethile ibonakala ingelona usizo ezigulini noma kumakhasimende noma kuwena njengomsebenzi, ungaqala ngokuzibuza ukuthi yenziwelani bese ucabanga izindlela ezintsha (ezingenza kwenziwe inqubomgomo entsha) ezinobufakazi,’ kusho yena.

UJohn-Langba ubalule ukuthi abantu abaningi bayakhathala emsebenzini kodwa labo abenza umsebenzi wokunakekela abantu (abezempilo, abezenhlalakahle, uDokotela bezeNgqondo, njll) basengozini enkulu ngenxa yokuthi abantu bathembele kubona.

‘Inhloso ukuyeka izindlela zokuzibheka ezingasebenzi, sivale isikhala sazo ngalezo ezisebenzayo. Thola umeluleki ungakamdingi. Ungavumeli amahloni nokucabanga ukuthi yihlazo kukwenze ukuthi ungafuni usizo ngezikhathi ezihlukene empilweni. Yidla ngendlela efanele, ulale kahle, uzivocavoce. Ungalibali wubuhle bokuzijabulisa,’ kusho uJohn-Langba. ‘Uma ubhekene nenkinga ethile, khumbula ukuthi ngeke ushaye into ecokeme emsebenzini. Yazi loko okwazi ukukwenza empilweni yakho nasemsebenzini. Ukuzinakekela ngeke kusize wena wedwa njengomuntu owenza umsebenzi wokunakekela abanye abantu kepha kuzokwenza uzinakekele kangcono iziguli/ amakhasimende.’

Amagama: ngu-Melissa Mungroo

Isithombe: Sithunyelwe


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ISimpoziyamu yoCwaningo Ithuthukisa Ukugcinwa nokuPhathwa Kwempiliswanomvelo

ISimpoziyamu yoCwaningo Ithuthukisa Ukugcinwa nokuPhathwa Kwempiliswanomvelo
Izethameli ze-D’RAP Symposium yaminyaka yonke e-Paradise Valley Nature Reserve.Click here for English version

I-Durban Research Action Partnership (i-D’RAP) Research Symposium yenze ithuba lokuthi abafundi abenza ucwaningo oluyingxenye yobambiswano phakathi kukaMasipala waseThekwini ne-UKZN zethule umsebenzi wazo, zizwe nombono wezethameli ngokuguquguquka kwesimo sezulu nokunakekela impiliswanomvelo ezingeni lokuphatha.

I-D’RAP ivala igebe, yandise ulwazi ekugcineni nasekunakekeleni impiliswanomvelo kwezokuguquguquka kwesimo sezulu. Ikhiqiza ulwazi ukwelekelela izimenenja zikaMasipala uma zenza izinqumo ngokugcina imvelo nokweseka imisebenzi yocwaningo yabafundi e-UKZN.

Izinkulumo bezigxile esigabeni sesithathu sikaMasipala se-Global Environmental Change (i-GEC) okuwuhlelo i-Rivers: source to sea nesigaba esingaphambi kwaso i-Durban Metropolitan Open Space System (i-D’MOSS).

Usosayensi wezokuvikela imvelo kwaMasipala waseThekwini uMnu Smiso Bhengu wemukele izethameli, wathi: ‘Siqinisa ubudlelwano, sisondele kwinqubo evela ocwaningweni oselwenziwe, okumqoka kwi-D’RAP.’ Wengeze ngokuthi isayensi kufanele ibe neqhaza elimqoka ekuhlinzekeni izidingo zabantu ezindaweni ezinjengomasipala.

Ohlelweni bekukhona nenkulumo kaDkt Manqoba Zungu ngocwaningo lwakhe ngokuxhumana kokugcinwa kwempiliswanomvelo, izidingo zokunakekelwa kwayo nenhlalakahle yabantu ezindaweni zasemadolobheni ezihambisana nokugcina imvelo kuMasipala waseThekwini.

Umcwaningi wezobudokotela e-UKZN uDkt Lulu van Rooyen ukhulume ngomsebenzi wocwaningo oqhubekayo obheka ukuphucuka kwendlela yokuphatha imvelo emadolobheni, wabalula isikhala esikhona sokushintsha isimo sezulu.

UDkt Angela James wasesiKoleni sezeMfundo e-UKZN ukhulume ngokuqeqeshelwa umsebenzi, okuyindlela yokufundisa ehlanganisa okwenzeka ekilasini nasemphakathini nemisebenzi yokuphathwa kwemvelo ngezindlela ezihlanzekile nezingayicekeli phansi. Abafundi baseziFundweni zezeNtuthuko e-UKZN oNks Mbali Mtshali noZinhle Ndebele bakhulume ngomkhankaso we-UKZN noMasipala waseThekwini i-Educational Partnership for Innovative Communities, lapho khona abafundi bebhekana ngqo nesifundo e-UKZN ngohlelo lokuqeqeshelwa umsebenzi emphakathini ngaphansi komnyango i-Environmental Planning and Climate Protection. 

USolwazi Rob Slotow wase-UKZN ubalule ubumqoka be-Communities of Practice (i-COP), esebenzisa isibonelo sokusebenzisana koMnyango wezeSayensi nezobuChwepheshe ne-National Research Foundation COP in Functional Biodiversity project e-UKZN.

Emisebenzini yabafundi ethuliwe bekukhona ucwaningo ngokuphathwa kwempiliswanomvelo, ukubhekwa kobungozi besizalo somfula uMngeni, amagciwane afa kanzima asezihlambweni zamanzi nezitamkoko zasezibhedlela, ukumelana nokuguquguquka kwesimo sezulu nobulili, indlela yokudla yohlobo oluthile lopholi nokudayiswa kwezilwane ezifuywayo eNingizimu Afrika.

UMnu Matthew Burnett waseSikoleni seziFundo ngokuPhilayo uthole indondo ngomsebenzi wakhe ovelele wokuhlola indawo okuhlala inhlanzi ephuzi kuyo ngenxa yokushintsha kokugeleza kwamanzi emfuleni uMngeni. UNks Maqsooda Mahomed waseSikoleni sezeSayensi yezoLimo, ezoMhlaba neMvelo ulale isibili ngokwenza indlela ebika ingozi ingakenzeki ngokunakekela imvelo eNingizimu Afrika.

Izindondo ziye kubafundi abenza iziqu ezilandela ezokuqala eSikoleni seSayenzi yezeMpilo. Owenza iziqu zeMastaziuNks Jennifer Cele uthole indondo ngocwaningo lwakhe ezizindeni zamaqhude, ukusetshenziswa komhlaba nendlela yokudla kwamachwane. Umcwaningi owenza iziqu zobudokotela emkhakheni wakhe uMnu Mfundo Maseko uthole umklomelo wesibili ngomsebenzi wakhe wocwaningo ngomphumela wokuhlukanisa, ukuguqula izindawo nomumo wazo ngobukhona noma ngokusweleka kwezinyoni zezulu nokusabalala kwazo eThekwini.

Amagama nesithombe: ngu-Christine Cuénod


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Biokinetics Academic Receives ASAIPA Award

Biokinetics Academic Receives ASAIPA Award
Dr Jeanne Grace received the SA Independent Practitioners Association National Medical Award.

Co-ordinator of the Biokinetics programme at UKZN, Dr Jeanne Grace received an Alliance of SA Independent Practitioners Association (ASAIPA) National Medical Award at a ceremony in Pretoria.

The ASAIPA awards recognise practitioners who contribute to independent private practice and embrace digital solutions to achieve improved patient and business outcomes; organisations, groups or individuals that enhance the medical profession’s standing in the community; young practitioners who excel and achievements by colleagues in non-medical fields.

Grace was recognised for enhancing the Biokinetics profession’s standing in the community and more specifically, for contributing to the profession by representing Biokineticists at the HPCSA as the current Biokinetics representative on the HPCSA Board for Physiotherapy, Podiatry and Biokinetics.

‘I am honoured to receive this national medical award and to be recognised amongst an elite group of independent primary healthcare providers and allied stakeholders. It is very rewarding, especially because I was nominated by my peers from the Biokinetics profession. This shows that my efforts are appreciated,’ she said.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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Education Alumnus Receives Best Thesis Award at SAERA Conference

Education Alumnus Receives Best Thesis Award at SAERA Conference
Dr Wendy Rawlinson (right) with SAERA executive, Dr Simphiwe Mthiyane.

Education graduate Dr Wendy Rawlinson received the Best Thesis award at the South African Education Research Association (SAERA) Conference hosted by the Durban University of Technology (DUT).

Her thesis was titled: Exploring my Communication Pedagogy in Diverse Undergraduate Classes at a University of Technology: A Self-Study of Practice. The study found that shifting from a technicist perspective to an aesthetic communication pedagogy has the potential to open up opportunities to provide more organic, situated and emergent ways of being, thinking and acting as teachers in diverse pedagogic settings.

It was judged by the SAERA panel to be the best thesis as it met the criteria of making an original contribution to knowledge; showing a high degree of research quality; and having potential impact to bring about educational change.

‘I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to explore a subject I am passionate about, that fostered my own growth and professional development. I am grateful to my supervisor, Professor Daisy Pillay without whose insight, guidance and expertise this PhD thesis would not have been possible. Her encouragement inspired me to produce scholarly work and her creative influence prompted the implementation of arts-based methods,’ said Rawlinson.

She is also expressed her thanks to the Self-Reflexive group at UKZN, led by Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Pillay and Dr Inba Naicker.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Education Academics Conduct Reading and Writing Workshop for Teachers

Education Academics Conduct Reading and Writing Workshop for Teachers
Teachers participate in the reading and writing workshop.

School of Education academics, Professor Ayub Sheik and Dr Norma Ngubane facilitated a reading and writing workshop for 200 teachers at the Pinetown Education District Hall as part of the School’s Language Education Cluster community outreach programme.

‘Literacy has been a perennial problem in South African schools and many English Second Language (ESL) learners struggle to read and write competently. The workshop was held to empower teachers with strategies to improve the reading and writing skill sets of their learners,’ said Sheik.

Teachers were introduced to a range of ideas and approaches to facilitate reading and writing in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase for ESL learners in an interactive and enabling environment. Among other topics, issues such as process writing; the genre approach to teaching writing; peer and group collaboration; and reading theories and their practical value were discussed.

Senior Education Specialist, Ms Dudu Mthembu said, ‘The workshop was impressive and fruitful. Teachers were motivated and the two-day session was well attended. The interest and engagement between the facilitators and teachers was great.’

A follow up session is planned for next year. The Municipal Library section of eThekwini Municipality has also expressed interest in Sheik conducting similar workshops at libraries to facilitate reading at grassroots level.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Humanities Student Presents Research at Young Scientists Conference

Humanities Student Presents Research at Young Scientists Conference
Mr Nkululeko Shabalala.

Master’s student in Public Policy, Mr Nkululeko Shabalala presented his research on the socio-economic effects of urban migration in African cities at the 9th Annual Young Scientists Conference. The event was organised by the Academy of Science of South Africa and the South African Young Academy of Science at the University of Pretoria.

Shabalala’s research examined decolonisation within the context of institutional transformation and transformation at individual level; trade amongst African countries and the central role played by economic participation in socio-political realities; migration through inter- and intra-movements and social relations between foreign and local nationals.

‘Colonialism on the continent was not only motivated by the capitalist expansion of European superpowers; simultaneously it sought to displace and strip Africans of their identity. The colonial borders had a huge impact in relation to displacement of families and clans,’ said Shabalala. ‘To counter this, a process of decolonisation of social patterns is of paramount importance. This will allow trade on the continent to materialise, in terms of movement of both goods and people as migration on a global scale is inevitable.’

Shabalala argues that there is an urgent need for institutional transformation to address issues pertaining to migration and mobility. He also notes that the call by the #fallistmovement for decolonised education in South African Higher Education Institutions could be viewed as an effort to address some of the structural issues.

His research also investigated the reasons why people migrate, and concluded that capital is the central element that encourages such movement. ‘In relation to social cohesion, South African nationals are not necessarily xenophobic…it’s the government that has elements of xenophobia due to exclusion of foreign nationals in South African local structures. However, in some instances, narrow and unguided nationalism tends to prevail.’ He also argues that education is key to participating in economic activities.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Crop Science PhD Candidate Wins Best Presentation Award at WaterNet Symposium

Crop Science PhD Candidate Wins Best Presentation Award at WaterNet Symposium
WaterNet Symposium’s Best Presentation Award winner, Mr Hillary Mugiyo.

Mr Hillary Mugiyo, a PhD candidate in the Discipline of Crop Science at UKZN, received first prize for his oral presentation at the 20th WaterNet/Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA)/Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWP-SA) Symposium.

Mugiyo was among a number of staff and students from UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) to attend the symposium in Johannesburg, the theme of which was Integrated Water Resources Development and Management: Leaving No One Behind for Sustainable Water Security in Eastern and Southern Africa.

His presentation on multi-criteria land evaluation for suitability analysis of neglected and underutilised crop species in South Africa covered aspects of his PhD research under the supervision of Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi. He presented under the symposium sub-theme of water, land, energy and agriculture, while Mabhaudhi led two special sessions at the symposium, one on the Decision Analytic Framework to explore the Water-Food-Energy nexus, and another on the GWP-SA.

Mugiyo outlined his research that aims to develop suitability maps to identify optimal land for the production of neglected and underutilised crop species (NUCS), which are generally suitable for drought-prone areas, making them ideal for marginalised production systems. Limited information is available on the use of suitability maps for production and Mugiyo aims to fill this gap. His research focuses on sorghum, cowpea, taro and amaranth crops, making use of Geographic Information Systems and Multi-Criteria Decision Making Analysis and the Analytic Hierarchy Process to develop suitability maps. Among other factors, the study takes into consideration historical climatic indicators, soil and landscape attributes, socio-economic indicators, and technical indicators. The research has demonstrated that South Africa’s marginal lands are suitable for the selected NUCS assessed in his study.

Mugiyo also presented this research as a poster at UKZN’s Postgraduate Research and Innovation Symposium in October, for which he received first prize in the PhD category. His work forms part of an ongoing initiative by the Centre of Transformative Agriculture and Food Systems in the SAEES to promote the use of NUCS to enhance food and nutrition security in marginal communities.

Words and Photograph: Christine Cuénod


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Biochemistry Lecturer Participates in Genetic Engineering Information Exchange

Biochemistry Lecturer Participates in Genetic Engineering Information Exchange
Ms Seipati Mokhosi (first row seated, seventh from left) with other participants at the information sharing and exchange meeting on second generation genetic engineering technologies.

PhD candidate and Development Lecturer in the Discipline of Biochemistry, Ms Seipati Mokhosi, participated in an information sharing and exchange meeting on second generation genetic engineering technologies hosted in Cape Town by the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in collaboration with the Third World Network (TWN).

The ACB, a Johannesburg-based non-governmental organisation, has engaged in biosafety discourse on the African continent and internationally for nearly two decades, while the TWN is an independent non-profit international research and advocacy organisation that focuses on issues relating to development, developing countries and North-South affairs.

Second-generation genetic engineering techniques are broadening the scope and extent to which organisms can be modified, raising concerns regarding food systems and impacts on the environment, biological diversity and human health. Citing the need to update and review the current national and international biosafety regulatory environment, the meeting offered the 40 government representatives, independent researchers and international experts the opportunity to update one another on new scientific developments and international discussions and debates around the governance of new technologies, particularly in an African context.

Ms Lim Li Ching from TWN opened the proceedings with an introductory address that contextualised new genetic engineering technologies and their impact on AfricaThe three-day discourse explored current trends, biosafety, risk assessment and the socio-economic challenges of these technologies.

‘It was such an honour to be able to participate in this dialogue which aimed to address some of the main challenges faced by Africa in the wake of new GM technologies including CRISP-R editing,’ said Mokhosi, whose PhD research explores the use of inorganic nanoparticles in traversing the blood-brain barrier for neuro-therapy.

Mokhosi believes that while the job of a researcher is often confined to laboratories, it is imperative that there is engagement between scientists, civil society and governments in order to pursue the common goal of responsible science for sustainable solutions.

After attending a screening of a short documentary by the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC) titled A question of consent: Exterminator mosquitoes in Burkina Faso, Mokhosi described her shock on realising that Target Malaria has passed the first phase with the release of genetically modified mosquitos.

‘While the science is fascinating and may seem sound in addressing the epidemic disease of malaria, what is clear is that the environmental and socio-economic impact, and health consequences are vast and may be catastrophic to the continent at large,’ she said.

Mokhosi added in her closing remarks that ACB Executive Director Ms Mariam Mayet highlighted that more needs to be done in terms of regulations and biosafety when it comes to new genetic engineering technologies.

‘There is deep consensus that these conversations are critical as Africans as we look at solutions for Africa’s problems,’ she said.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied


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Award for Student Presentation on Catalysis of Biodiesel By-Products

Award for Student Presentation on Catalysis of Biodiesel By-Products
From left: Mr Jonathan Chetty, Clariant; Mr Aaron Folkard; CATSA 2019 eminent visiting Professor Angelos Efstathiou and CATSA Chairperson, Dr Stephen Roberts at the awards.

Master’s candidate in the School of Chemistry and Physics, Mr Aaron Folkard received the Clariant award for the best student oral presentation at the Catalysis Society of South Africa’s (CATSA) 30th annual conference held in Cape Town. He was recognised for his presentation on the conversion of a biodiesel by-product to several more valuable chemicals using a catalyst.

The conference theme was From Nanomaterial to Industrial Process, and participants included delegates from academia and industry. The student awards recognise scientific papers of exceptional quality presented at the event through oral or poster presentations.

Folkard’s research is supervised by Professor Holger Friedrich. His presentation described how, by upgrading a biodiesel by-product, glycerol, he and other researchers were able to form their target chemical, propanol, as well as other valuable chemicals such as acrolein, acetol and propanediols, all of which are between four and 20 times more valuable than crude glycerol.

‘In order to convert glycerol, we used a proprietary bimetallic catalyst developed during my MSc in a continuous flow reactor at elevated pressure and temperature,’ said Folkard. The presentation highlighted the benefits and shortcomings of this catalyst system that would help develop better catalysts for biomass upgrading. Folkard also detailed how one component of the catalyst affects another.

‘Using advanced techniques within UKZN, as well as iTemba labs and the Central Analytical Facilities (CAF) at Stellenbosch University, we were able to show the properties of the catalyst not only before the reaction, but also after it,’ said Folkard.

Folkard’s masters research involves an investigation of the complete conversion of glycerol to propanol, work which could have significant applications in biorefineries and could be coupled with alternative energy and biofuel production. Having initially aimed to form platform chemicals like propanol in his MSc, Folkard says the wide product profile obtained during his study was an added bonus.

Folkard’s interest in catalysis was sparked during the course of his BSc in Applied Chemistry when he worked as a research assistant in Friedrich’s Catalysis Research Group (CRG) during vacations. He was exposed to both homogenous and heterogenous catalysis over subsequent vacations, leading him to pursue postgraduate studies with the CRG.

Folkard plans to continue to PhD studies, after which he foresees a career either in industry where he can apply the expertise he has gained, or as an entrepreneur launching a bioenergy start-up to make a difference in biomass upgrading.

‘I am passionate about climate change and disrupting established industries, and hopefully I can bring about change in both,’ he said.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied


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