Use of Social Media by Students Explored at Seminar

Use of Social Media by Students Explored at Seminar
From left: Professor Ted Sommerville, Professor Vincentas Lamanauskas, Dr Angela James and Mr Joseph Jere.

UKZN’s Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO), in partnership with Dr Angela James of the School of Education, hosted a seminar which examined the use of social media by students.

The seminar was presented by the Head Researcher at Šiauliai University in Lithuania, Professor Vincentas Lamanauskas, who is Director of the Scientia Socialis and Chairman of the Scientific Methodical Centre Scientia Educologica.

Lamanauskas also serves as Editor-in-Chief of eight international journals, is a member of the editorial boards of 10 international journals, has presented numerous seminars and workshops, and has worked collaboratively with international colleagues on various topics and projects.

Social media dominates the technology landscape with most, if not all, students engaging on the plethora of social media platforms available. These platforms, while aimed at connecting individuals, presented immense potential for teaching and learning in Higher Education.

During the seminar, Lamanauskas explored the use of social media by students, and the perspectives of academics on the use of social media for teaching.

Based on these results, he outlined imperatives for the effective use of social media in Higher Education, arguing that central to social media use in Higher Education was an understanding of the lifestyles of students, taking into account differing ICT literacy and contexts. He also discussed the possibility of academics and students perceiving social media to be an intrusion of their personal space.

He spoke about challenges academics faced in using the medium saying that on social media platforms, information was transmitted in short snippets which students had become accustomed to. This posed challenges in presenting academic content to students, which now required a shift in pedagogic approaches.

Lamanauskas also reflected on the influence of social media on academic writing and critical thought, highlighting the significance of guiding students to transform from passive consumers into critical engagers on social media through discussions and augmented reality. He recommended that specific guidelines be communicated to students within social media learning spaces.

‘I really enjoyed presenting the workshop, and more so the questions and collaboration,’ he said. ‘I am glad that the academics are interested and willing to engage around social media.’

A video recording of the seminar will be available soon on the Teaching & Learning TV, YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/utlotv Subscribers will be notified as videos are uploaded.

Ebrahim Adam


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Uxhaso Lwezimali LwamaJaphani Lwenze i-Science4U Mobile Science Lab Yaba Impumelelo

Uxhaso Lwezimali LwamaJaphani Lwenze i-Science4U Mobile Science Lab Yaba Impumelelo
ISekelashansela, Dkt Albert van Jaarsveld, ne neKhansela Isamu Yamaguchi woMnyango weNxusa laseJaphani nabafundi basesikoleni iBonela Secondary School emcimbini wokwethulwa kwelebhu ehambayo yase-UKZN ngaphansi kohlelo i-Science4U.

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I-Science4U, okuyilebhu kanokusho ehambayo yase-UKZN esebenza ngaphansi kwesizinda i-Science and Technology Education Centre (STEC), ithulwe ngokusemthethweni.

Uxhaso olukhulu olutholakale enxuseni laseJaphani ebelimelwe iKhansela Isamu Yamaguchi, nongumxhumanisi wephrojekhthi uNkz Nomthandazo Hoboyi, lwenze iKolishi YezoLimo, YezobuNjiniyela NezeSayensi lakwazi ukuthenga  laphinde laguqula iveni eyi-Mercedes Vito.

Uxhaso lweveni luhlelwe i-UKZN Foundation okuyiyona exhumanise i-UKZN Scince Centre nohlelo lweNxusa laseJaphani i-Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Project.

Umxhumanisi wesizinda sesayensi uDkt Tanja Reinhardt, uthe: ‘Iveni i-Science4U likhombisa impokophelo yethu yokuhlinzeka ezemfundo zesayensi kuwo wonke umuntu’

Leli veni, elakhiwe futhi lahlinzekwa ngezinsiza zokwenza umsebenzi kucwaninga wefiziksi nekhemistri, selihambele izikole lihlinzeka ngezinsiza zelebhu kubafundi.

Le moto ekwazi ukusebenza abafundi abangama-50, inezinsiza zobuchwepheshe bohlobo oluphezulu eziyi-15 ze-SPARK Science Learning System okuwuhlobo lwezinsiza oluhlanganise ithuluzi lokufaka imininingo nelihlola ngemibuzo okuhlinzeka ngethuluzi eliqoqa imininingo ngendlela elula.

‘Izinsiza ze-SPARK Science Learning System zisebenza ngamabhethri okwenza kube lula ukusebenza ezikoleni ezingenawo ugesi noma uma usanqamukile,’ kuso u-Reinhardt.

Ucwaningo lukhombisa ukuthi ukuzibambela mathupha uma kufundwa kunomthelela omuhle kubafundi ngoba kukhuphula izinga lokufunda, kufundise amakhono amasha,kuthuthukise nolwazi mayelana nemisebenzi kwezesayensi.

‘Sithemba ukuthi abafundi bazozuza kulolu hlelo ngokuthola ulwazi olwengeziwe futhi bathakasele izifundo zesayensi okuzoholela ekuthuthukeni komqondo ogxile kwezesayensi,’ kusho u-Reinhardt.

UReinhardt uthe imiphumela yesikhashana kuya kweside yokusebenza kwelebhu izothuthukisa amazinga okufunda isayensi nezibalo kubafundi basezikoleni ezisemiphakathini entulayo. ‘Lokhu kuzothuthukisa izinga lempumelelo nesibalo sabafundi abangena enyuvesi.’

Abafundi baseBonela Secondary School bebekulo mcimbi wokwethula obuhlanganise nenkulumo kaSekelashansela wase-UKZN uDkt Albert van Jaarsveld ogqugquzele abasha ukuthi bathande izifundo isayensi waphinde waqinisekisa ukuthi inyuvesi iyobamukela uma sebeqede ngempumelelo izifundo zabo zesikole. 

Sally Frost


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Vice-Chancellor’s New Year’s Message

Vice-Chancellor’s New Year’s Message
Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, Vice-Chancellor and Principal.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the University community back after the annual festive break. I take this opportunity to wish you all a prosperous 2016 and trust that you have been able to enjoy your well-deserved break from academia and that you are energised as you resume your respective duties in the New Year.

I think that it is important that we as a collective continue to espouse the REACH principles in all our interactions and engagements, both internally as well as with our external stakeholders.

A special thank you to all our academics who have been active in finalising the exams concluded late last year as well as those active in generating research and publications over this period. It is this type of dedication that has firmly placed UKZN in the number one spot in terms of research outputs and is growing our teaching reputation.

I thank you all for your commitment, dedication and hard work and I am confident that together we can make great strides in realising the University’s mission and vision.


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New Look Teaching & Learning in Higher Education Conference this Year

New Look Teaching & Learning in Higher Education Conference this Year
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The theme of the 10th annual Teaching & Learning in Higher Education Conference in Durban this September is: “The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning: Advancing Teaching Innovation and Research Excellence in Higher Education”.

The Conference’s goal is to interrogate the artificial dichotomy between teaching and research.

Organised and hosted by the UKZN Teaching & Learning Office (UTLO), the Conference is an international gathering of academics and researchers who will showcase innovations, generate debate, theorise policy and practice, and explore opportunities and challenges associated with teaching and learning in Higher Education.

The event facilitates the dissemination of Higher Education and institutional research findings.

Keynote speakers and panellists include internationally renowned academics, some of whom will be visiting South Africa for the first time. Speakers include Professor Lee Shulman of Stanford University in the United States; Professor Brenda Leibowitz of the University of Johannesburg; Professor Sam Mchombo of the University of California in the United States; Professor Ayo Bamgbose of the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and Professor Thabo Msibi from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

UKZN’s Dr Langa Khumalo will chair the plenary panel.

A re-envisioned conference format will be introduced over the next few years. Presentation styles include a combination of keynote addresses, paper presentations, poster presentations, workshops, special interest groups and panel discussions. Delegates can also expect a blend of cutting-edge academic debates and rich networking opportunities during the conference and social events.

‘The 10th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference will be quite different from what we’ve experienced in the past. We’ve coined the phrase the “flipped conference”,’ said Dr Rubby Dhunpath, the Director for Teaching & Learning and the Conference Chair and Convenor.

Online abstract submissions and conference registrations are now open. Authors and delegates are encouraged to submit abstracts and register early as space is limited. Sponsorship and publicity opportunities are also available.

More information on the Conference is available on the conference website: tlhec.ukzn.ac.za


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Technology Transfer and Commercialisation Workshop at UKZN Leads to Bigger Things

Technology Transfer and Commercialisation Workshop at UKZN Leads to Bigger Things
From left: Dr Sean Jones of the UKZN Foundation; Dr Tim Hart; Professor Jonathan Blackledge, and Isis Innovation CEO, Mr Tom Hockaday.

Isis Enterprise, an international innovation management and technology transfer consultancy based at the University of Oxford in England, facilitated a technology transfer and commercialisation workshop at UKZN.

UKZN’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Professor Jonathan Blackledge, said the workshops - the first in a series of engagements - were the result of a Memorandum of Understanding the University signed with Isis Enterprise, which is part of Isis Innovation Ltd, Oxford University’s technology transfer company.

Blackledge emphasised involving role players from the region and benefiting the wider community in KwaZulu-Natal.

‘There’s no point in keeping intellectual property in a university. It’s a UKZN show, based on Oxford expertise.’

Blackledge added that although UKZN was heading up the initiative, there was collaboration with the Durban University of Technology, the University of Zululand, Mangosuthu University of Technology, as well as eThekwini Municipality, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and the KZN Department of Economic Development. 

Dr Tim Hart, a managing consultant with Isis Enterprise, said their approach was to support economies and economic development through innovation-based activities. ‘The work we do is focused on delivering economic and societal impact. The way we do it is by helping to transfer technologies from universities to industry.’

Pro Vice-ChancellorInnovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship at UKZN, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, said while some may look at innovation and tech transfer purely as a money-making scheme, ‘social benefit and social upliftment are an integral aspect of it’.

Ramjugernath said major problems faced in South Africa - including unemployment, poverty and the low-economic growth rate - could be addressed using technology transfer and innovation which was in line with the National Development Plan strategy of moving the country towards a knowledge-based economy.

Illustrating this he said:  ‘Let’s say for example UKZN has a piece of research which can be developed and it results in a manufacturing plant for a drug or pharmaceuticals being built in Durban, this creates jobs for people in the local community. It generates revenues, taxes and so forth, which then leads to economic development and indirectly to social upliftment.’

Isis Oxford’s Mr Terry Pollard said Isis Innovation had been in operation for more than 25 years. ‘Last year, it protected 100 new ideas with patents, brought in revenues of nearly 25 million sterling and helped academics win another 25 million pounds in research funding.

‘It’s solving problems with good ideas. Good ideas are intellectual property, it can be a patent, but it could be some clever software on a phone for communications,’ said Pollard.

Dr Sibusiso Mlondo of the KwaZulu-Natal Regional Office of Technology Transfer said UKZN was the leader in technology transfer and innovation in the province due to its size and infrastructure.

Ramjugernath said the regional technology transfer office was hosted at UKZN to enable it to have a greater impact.  ‘We don’t just want to impact the community within the University, we actually want to impact the lives of the community within the region, nationally, and globally.

‘We want to have a consortium of Higher Education Institutions and stakeholders in the region and develop a regional hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. We are hoping that this relationship with Oxford will help us to enhance that, due to their experience in the UK and across the world,’ said Ramjugernath.

Said Blackledge: ‘Innovation is not just about science and engineering – that’s the general perception. It should also be about the arts and humanities, in equal measure. And therefore Oxford is the perfect match for the University.’

For more information visit Isis Innovation.

-        Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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UKZN hosts International Conference on History Education in Africa

UKZN hosts International Conference on History Education in Africa
Participants at the International Conference on History Education in Africa.

The History Education Programme in the School of Education together with the International Research Association for History and Social Sciences Education (IRAHSSE) hosted the International Conference on History Education in Africa which took place in Durban.

The Conference theme was “Teaching and Learning History in Contemporary Africa: Past, Present and Future” which elicited stimulating discussion and reflection on the state of history education in Africa and the challenges and opportunities associated with teaching and learning history across the continent.

Professor Johan Wasserman of the School of Education said the conference provided a snapshot of existent and emerging knowledge and debates in this field and raised new questions for future research.

‘Further, it seeks to help build a network of scholars and practitioners working in this field, with the aim of maintaining communication and facilitating co-operation into the future,’ he said.

The highly anticipated keynote address for the Conference was delivered by Professor Keith Barton of Indiana University in the United States who spoke on: “History Education for Democratic Participation”.

Barton argued that ‘if we are not clear in our purposes for teaching history, decisions about the content and process of history education will be made for convenience rather than for a directed goal.’

Following his own advice, he explicitly emphasised that history education needed to contribute towards citizenship and emphasise plurality, participation, and deliberation. He showed that this goal could be achieved by structuring history education on a humanist framework that incorporates reasoned judgement, an expanded view of humanity, and opportunity for public deliberation.

‘By giving students the opportunity to reach conclusions by examining a variety of viewpoints found in historical evidence, history education can create the conditions for responding to and accepting difference in society, which, is the goal of humanist education,’ said Barton.

The Conference also covered a wide range of relevant political and practical issues related to curricula, textbooks, pedagogy and classroom practices, and teacher education at both primary and secondary level, as well as history education in informal settings.

Melissa Mungroo


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UKZN Academic attends Tropical Agriculture Conference in Australia

UKZN Academic attends Tropical Agriculture Conference in Australia
From left: Professor Sir Gordon Conway, Imperial College in London; Professor Gabrielle Persley, University of Queensland; Mr Augustin Musoni, Rwanda Agriculture Board; Professor A. Tongoona, University of Ghana; Professor Hussein Shimelis, and Dr Vivienne Anthony, Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.

SASRI Chair of Crop Science in UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), Professor Hussein Shimelis, presented a paper on Striga grain under the theme of science-driven solutions at the TropAg 2015 Conference in Australia.

The bi-annual event was aimed at facilitating collaboration and networking between international scientists working in agriculture in tropical regions to increase project development and technology transfer between scientists.

The Conference featured eight exhibitors, with research papers presented on advances within the agriculture industries in the subtropics and tropics, from grain to horticultural crops to livestock. Oral and poster papers were presented covering a diverse range of aspects of tropical agriculture, specifically addressing innovative solutions to challenges faced in this arena.

Important topics covered included climate risks, crop productivity, health, plant diseases, nutrition security, consumer dynamics, breeding approaches, biofortification, and genomics for crop and livestock research.

Shimelis also attended a meeting on a demand-led plant variety design project in Africa held at the University of Queensland’s Saint Lucia campus. The project focuses on plant breeding education, implementation of breeding research, and cultivar development and adoption in Africa through international partnerships. The project aims to strengthen postgraduate education and professional development training for plant breeders on demand-led variety design, using best practices from public and private sectors in Africa and internationally.

Shimelis also visited the field trials of the Centre for Plant Sciences, an initiative of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI)/the University of Queensland situated at the Gatton Research Station.

‘This visit allowed me to share sorghum and maize research experiences of the Centre thanks to a field visit guided by senior researcher, Dr Daniel Rodriguez,’ said Shimelis.

Another visit was to the teaching and research facilities of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, which Shimelis described as extremely interesting, especially being able to see the world-class, fully-equipped 150-seater teaching laboratory (SuperLab) of the QUT.

‘Professor Sagadevan Mundree (an ex-UKZN staff member) of the Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities at QUT guided this visit and introduced the various research activities of the centre, covering complex biotechnology, breeding, micronutrient enhancement and disease resistance.

‘Overall, I gained substantial experience from the presentations, field and laboratory visits,’ said Shimelis. ‘I also established some contacts that will contribute to future teaching and research collaborations.’

 Christine Cuénod


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Presentation by Engineering Lecturer Focuses on Smart Grid Research

Presentation by Engineering Lecturer Focuses on Smart Grid Research
UKZN’s Dr Inno Davidson (far right) with fellow Symposium delegates.

Dr Inno Davidson of the School of Engineering at UKZN gave a keynote address at the eThekwini Smart Grid Symposium titled: “Smart Grid Innovation for Smart Cities”.

The presentation was very well-received by industry representatives and municipal professionals in attendance.

Davidson’s presentation was based on the work he conducts into the use of smart grids which are electrical grids that merge bi-directional power flow with information flow to monitor changes in usage and supply electricity accordingly. The grids use digital communications technology to detect and react to the usage of the electrical supply they are connected to, and can be integrated into the current electric power system.

This provides scope for research into the use of smart grids, which Davidson says will revolutionise electricity supply and usage in South Africa, in addition to providing innovative new infrastructure, such as charging stations for electric cars. This kind of innovation is becoming increasingly important as demand on electricity supply increases while resources decrease.

‘The last century has demonstrated that every facet of human development is woven around a sound and stable energy supply regime,’ said Davidson in his presentation.

He says smart grids will make it easier to increase capacity, improve efficiency, and ensure that electrical supply is reliable. Additionally, smart grids would contribute to making electrical supply systems function more economically as they respond to demand, and would also ensure the sustainability of the generation and distribution of electrical power. Consumers would also be able to play a more active role in managing their consumption of electricity with the use of smart grids.

In his presentation, Davidson also noted that smart grids could mitigate emissions of greenhouse gases through the use of renewable technologies. The grids are also “self-healing” and can repair faults and reduce outages, since they can detect fluctuations and disturbances to the grid and isolate parts of it. Davidson also touched on global trends in energy supply and consumption, and emphasised the driving forces towards finding more sustainable solutions.

He went on to speak about the importance of collaboration between industry and academia in achieving sustainable solutions, specifically by the training of graduates being done through the Eskom Centre of Excellence (CoE) in HVDC Engineering, a joint effort between industry (eThekwini, Eskom and Transnet), and academia (UKZN, Durban University of Technology and Mangosuthu University of Technology).

Davidson is the Director of this multi-disciplinary research centre, which focuses on research in technology relating to HVDC, power systems (including lines) and power electronics relating to AC systems. Through applied scientific research and technology development, the centre contributes to expertise in this field in South Africa and encourages a collaborative approach to resolving problems facing the electric power industry.

Christine Cuénod


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Crop Science Student Wins Award for Best Masters Presentation at Combined Congress

Crop Science Student Wins Award for Best Masters Presentation at Combined Congress
Ms Slindile Miya with her award from Omnia.

Ms Slindile Miya of the Discipline of Crop Science in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) was an award-winner at the annual Combined Congress of the SA Societies of Crop, Soil, Horticulture and Weed Sciences held in Bloemfontein.

Miya, who completed her Masters in Agriculture in 2015, received the Omnia award for the best oral presentation by a scientist under the age of 40. This was Miya’s first presentation at a scientific congress, making the achievement all the more significant for the young crop scientist.

Miya’s presentation was titled: “Seed Quality Response of Maize to Hail Damage and Plant Density”.

Her work focused on the interaction of a number of factors that impact seed quality, specifically genetic, environmental and management factors. In relation to her study, these factors were the density of the plant population, the cultivar used, hail damage, and the management practice of seed selection.

The results of the study showed that seed quality is negatively impacted by hail damage, with an important factor being the stage at which the plant is exposed to hail, with those in an early stage of growth able to recover, while plants exposed in later reproductive stages sustained permanent damage that reduced seed quality.

Based on the results of her work, Miya recommends that plant density is moderate to high, since high density planting uses resources more efficiently.

Miya used three cultivars, one of which is SC701, a popular cultivar in KwaZulu-Natal, which she says showed the most resilience. She also found that her results differed based on which of her two sites the crops were grown at. Her trial at Baynesfield Estate proved more adaptable in its seed quality response than her trial at Swayimane.

The motive for exploring the resilience and adaptability of this crop, Miya says, was the need for solutions to the globally-critical issue of climate change that will impact food security, particularly as the effects of climate change such as severe hailstorms are on the rise.

Miya noted that the serious hailstorms experienced in the Pietermaritzburg area in January 2015 were recorded in her experiment, exposing her trials to hail before she simulated hail damage, but fortunately not causing too much damage.

She said that she hopes the results of her study will be useful to farmers and industry looking to mitigate the effects of climate change on crops. Miya also encouraged others to work passionately and tirelessly at their studies to achieve success.

Miya, who is supervised by Professor Albert Modi, aims to undertake a PhD looking at the seed quality of the Bambara groundnut.

 Christine Cuénod


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Move Over Farmville! Agriculture and Computer Science Postgrads Team Up on African Farmer Game

Move Over Farmville! Agriculture and Computer Science Postgrads Team Up on African Farmer Game
Postgraduate students and staff from SAEES & Computer Science with the African Farmer developers.

Two University of Sussex academics visited UKZN ahead of the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture African Edition Conference, spending the day in a workshop with postgraduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff from the Discipline of Computer Science and various agricultural disciplines to introduce an interactive computer simulation entitled African Farmer Game.

Dr John Thompson of the Institute of Development Studies and Mr James Jackson of the School of Engineering and Informatics are developing the game in partnership with British and African colleagues.

The software simulation is designed to assist in complex agricultural decision-making processes by placing the user in the position of an African farmer and his or her household, within parameters determined by location, crop types and more. The player must make decisions that the farmer would have to make -decisions that have consequences in the game. Decisions take into account risks, opportunities and vulnerabilities a rural farming household in Africa would face, including climate, disease, food insecurity and market access, presenting the user with practical and ethical dilemmas.

The workshop combined expertise from Computer Science and agricultural disciplines to stimulate exchanges about the use of computer games to simulate agricultural decision-making. Interactions between participants provided valuable feedback to the developers.

Dean and Head of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), Professor Albert Modi, explained that the game worked on a sustainable agriculture model wherein the user had to enable his household to farm a certain crop under the conditions of the chosen area, including socio-economic factors.

Students were enthusiastic about the exercise, demonstrating the scope for use of the simulation in teaching. Agricultural students shared knowledge about agricultural practices, while Computer Science students identified technical gaps in the programme.

Professor Aderemi Adewumi of Computer Science recommended taking the game to a more advanced level.

‘The focus is on agriculture and how a household fares making decisions in the presence of uncertainty,’ said a Computer Science postgraduate in the feedback session, pointing out additional non-agricultural elements that could be considered.

‘The point is to come up with a situation where subsistence or smallholder farmers can produce enough food - if families are not fed, famine and displacements follow,’ said Modi.

Modi recommended the introduction of the concept of agripreneurship and marketing techniques as well as of indigenous knowledge affecting decision-making of smallholder farmers.

‘This game ties in well with our research as we work a lot on concepts of sustainable agriculture and smallholder farming; our research group agrees that the global interpretation of smallholder farmers not being entrepreneurs is not correct,’ said Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi, a postdoctoral research fellow in Crop Science at SAEES.

The game uses open-source software that can be collaborated on and used freely, and developed further by interested parties.

Christine Cuénod


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UKZN Agrometeorology System Wins More Accolades

UKZN Agrometeorology System Wins More Accolades
UKZN’s Professor Mike Savage (centre) with Vice-President, South African Society for Crop Production, Dr Diana Marais, and Registrar, South African Society of Crop Production, Mr Francois Olivier.

The Agrometeorological Instrumentation Mast system (AIM), developed by Professor Michael Savage of UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), continues to win accolades as an innovative teaching and agrometeorological tool.

It chalked up its fifth award at the recent Combined Congress of the Societies of Crop Science, Horticulture, Soil Science and Weed Science in Bloemfontein where senior author Savage accepted the award for the best paper published in the 2014 South African Journal of Plant and Soil.

This Congress award continues a winning streak for SAEES – Savage won the same award in 2014 for a paper on frost occurrence and duration for short-grass surfaces, and in 2015 it went to SASRI Chair of Crop Science, Professor Hussein Shimelis, for his paper on the topic of identification of agronomic and seed oil traits in the vernonia crop.

The award is conferred by the Board of the South African Society of Crop Production (SASCP).

The title of this year’s award-winning paper is: “Web-Based Teaching, Learning and Research using Accessible Real-time Data Obtained from Field-based Agrometeorological Measurement Systems”.

 The publication covers the rationale, detail, application and evaluation of the web-based data and information system as a tool to enhance understanding of physical concepts of the agroenvironment, and thereby accelerate teaching and learning processes.

The AIM system has proved useful in providing easily accessible, near real-time agrometeorological data to the lay public and to students and staff in a range of disciplines. The paper also details the system’s capability in giving early warnings of phenomena such as Berg winds, floods and frost.

Savage’s work on this system was the subject of his cum laude Masters in Agriculture, which he received in 2014 despite having attained his PhD in the late 1970s and a prestigious Doctor of Science in Agriculture degree in 2010. He was also awarded one of UKZN’s 2014 Distinguished Teachers’ Awards, thanks largely to his work using this system.

The AIM system is the result of Savage’s quest to make his lecturing content more alive and comprehensible to students across language and cultural divides, as the system employs visual literacy techniques to translate the physical agroenvironment into the classroom.

Savage thanked the undergraduate students who assisted in the set-up phase of the system as its first users as well as SAEES Technical Manager, Mr Kamenthren Govender, the University’s Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO) and the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) for their support.

Christine Cuénod


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UKZN Plays Leading Role in Local Climate Change Project

UKZN Plays Leading Role in Local Climate Change Project
Traditional and scientific knowledge combine in agricultural practice at Swayimane to increase the climate resilience and adaptive capacity of crops.

With many parts of South Africa in the grips of a drought and 2015 having been one of the hottest years on record, climate projections for the uMgungundlovu District Municipality (UMDM) in KwaZulu-Natal are not encouraging.

Local research has indicated that these communities will experience a warmer future with lower average rainfall. With floods, severe storms and wildland fires already being among the main hazards currently faced by communities in the UMDM, there is a genuine cause of concern for the long term impact that climate change will have on the people living in this area.

This is further compounded as many are already vulnerable to these hazards owing to various non-climate related reasons such as low-cost and informal housing located close to river watercourses or on flood plains within catchments; housing of poor standard located on steep hillsides;  high-density informal and formal settlements; poor land use management and over-exploitation of natural resources, including grasslands; and  small scale farmers using crops and methods that are not resilient to the impacts of climate change.

In an effort to reduce significantly the vulnerability of the affected communities within the UMDM where low levels of income and education combined with a general lack of awareness are major contributing factors, the uMngeni Resilience project was launched in 2015.

The project was awarded in October, 2014 with the application proposal having started from 2013. The uMngeni Resilience Project proposes a unique approach to addressing the impact of climate change in South Africa.

This will be enabled through implementing a suite of complementary gender-sensitive project interventions, focusing on: i) early warning and ward based disaster response systems; ii) ecological and engineering infrastructure solutions specifically focused on vulnerable communities, including women; iii) integrating the use of climate-resilient crops and climate-smart techniques into new and existing farming systems; and iv) disseminating adaptation lessons learned and policy recommendations, to facilitate scaling up and replication.

The project is funded by the Adaptation Fund which was established under the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Since 2010, the Adaptation Fund has committed US$331 million towards climate change adaptation activities in 54 countries. The uMngeni Resilience Project is also unique in that it is one of the first three climate change projects in South Africa to be funded by the Adaptation Fund – it is thus a flagship project.

The Adaptation Fund, as the primary funders, appointed the South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) as the National Implementing Entity responsible for overall project management and reporting to the fund’s board. For the uMngeni Resilience Project, SANBI partnered with the UMDM, who are the Executing Entity, to manage this initiative.

Having participated in the development of the project since 2013, UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, acting through the UKZN Foundation, was then contracted to lead Component 1.3 on seasonal weather forecasting and Component 3 on agriculture.

The funding period will be over 60 months and the total value of the project is approximately US$7 495 055. Of this amount, UKZN Foundation will receive US$1 617 143.00 (approx. R26.7 million) over the five-year period.

One of the main overall objectives of the uMngeni Resilience project is to reduce the vulnerability of these communities and small scale farmers in the UMDM to the impacts of climate change. This will be achieved by increasing climate resilience and adaptive capacity by combining traditional and scientific knowledge in an integrated approach to adaptation.

Professor Albert Modi of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences said: ‘Climate change is going to be a major challenge and the sooner we understand ways in which to minimise the impacts the better off we will be. Certainly the rural communities are extremely vulnerable and this project will help with our research in not only developing a model that works but perhaps more importantly one that can be used in other parts of southern Africa.

‘We are most grateful and excited to be part of this project,’

 Steve Camp 


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Religion and Migration in Post-Colonial Contexts Discussed

Religion and Migration in Post-Colonial Contexts Discussed
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter (front row, fifth right), and Dr Federico Settler (front row, second right) with conference participants.

The School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) recently hosted a conference at the Diakonia Centre in Durban on Religion and Migration in Postcolonial Contexts.

Conference organiser Dr Federico Settler explained the event aimed to explore the lives of migrants in Southern Africa and the ways in which religious beliefs, affiliations and practices shaped migration, and also how migratory processes shaped the understanding of what constituted religion, religious work and practice.

‘The Conference was premised on the idea that when people move, they take their religion and cultural identities with them. In this, migrants make use of and form religious communities as networks of support, trust and knowledge and to accumulate material knowledge of regulations, languages, expectations, desirable jobs and settlement,’ he said.

DVC and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, saw the conference as a platform to engage sociologically and psychologically with the challenges facing postcolonial societies.

‘We cannot solve societal challenges but through interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary engagement with social and natural scientists, we can at least step up to these challenges especially at tertiary level for transformation, decolonisation of the curriculum and inspire more academics to break down disciplinary boundaries,’ she said.

The keynote address was given by Honorary Professor at SRPC, Professor Trygve Wyller of the University of Oslo, who spoke on Religion and the Political, discussing whether religiously based citizenship activities could in any way contribute to a non-orientalist notion and practice of citizenship.

‘Traditionally, there are millions of Christian social practice activities in the world, all aimed at the improvement of the life standard for one or more kinds of groups. Often these activities are motivated by classical Christian discourse, such as compassion, charity and love,’ he said.

He concluded by saying: ‘Maybe the best contribution from the churches is to reduce their significance as churches. Then the people of the non-place (migrants) can become subjects in their own place.’

The Conference, sponsored by the National Research Foundation, marked the start of the second year of Settler’s NRF Thuthuka-funded project dedicated to the critical study of the relationship between religion and migration.

The Conference attracted delegates from Germany, Botswana, Turkey and Norway, and marked the beginning of future collaboration with UKZN.

Melissa Mungroo


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Edgewood Environmental Forum show Appreciation for Cleaning and Gardening Staff

Edgewood Environmental Forum show Appreciation for Cleaning and Gardening Staff
The Edgewood Environmental Forum and the Edgewood campus cleaning and gardening staff enjoying interaction.

In a gesture of gratitude and appreciation towards cleaning and gardening staff on the Edgewood campus, members of the Edgewood Environmental Forum (EEF) provided them with a light meal and food parcels for their families.

The cleaning and gardening staff were both surprised and happy by the act of kindness.

Explaining the idea further, Dr Angela James said, ‘The staff support the actions of the EEF throughout the year, especially the paper recycling project, the indigenising and food crop gardening initiatives. Every week a recycling company purchases paper from the campus. Some of the money generated from the recycling project was used to fund the event and also purchase plant seedlings for the food crop initiative.’

The EEF is engaged in environmentally sustainable activities on campus and in spreading this message and action, they have presented talks to first year undergraduate student teachers during orientation. 

They have also created the watch me grow plant initiative; run a poster campaign on student action for the environment and an environmental awareness week in which they planted indigenous trees and set up interspersed garden spaces with a variety of vegetable seedlings, including spinach, pumpkin, butternut, tomatoes and cabbages.

‘The thinking is for student teachers to be environmentally conscientised and to question their role in taking action for the environment.  In observing or engaging in these actions these future teachers hopefully will engage their learners in these actions as well. It has been a great challenge to engage as many student teachers as possible,’ said James.

The seedling crop initiative is based on the premise that students do not have to go hungry if they are able to harvest their own crops. With no guarding of crops, the students are asked to plant a seed or seedling every time they harvest a crop. This is seen as a revolutionary action, which is seen to take ground and grow with time.

‘What should also be encouraged is for student teachers to grow their own crops. Agreement has been made for the cleaning and gardening staff to grow their own crops - this will also be a great learning experience for all,’ said James.

Melissa Mungroo


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We’ve Got This! Durban Sets New Science World Record

We’ve Got This!  Durban Sets New Science World Record
Professor Deo Jaganyi was one of three official judges at the successful attempt by Durban grade 9 school pupils to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest practical science lesson.

The 5th of February was a special day for South Africa, and more so for Durban. The city peaked on the world map as 2 104 Durban school children successfully broke the Guinness World Record for the largest ever practical science lesson.

Hosted at the Durban Exhibition Centre, the record attempt had been lodged with Guinness by MAHLE Behr South Africa, together with NGO, the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CASME).  Along with eThekwini Municipality, UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science was among the chief supporters of the event as it put its staff and students at the organisers’ disposal to ensure every opportunity for success. 

Apart from laying claim to a genuine world record, and having a lot of fun at the same time, the innovative project aimed to develop a love for maths and science among schoolchildren. The learners participating were all in Grade 9, which is the critical period for making matric subject choices and educating pupils on the importance of core maths for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) careers.

In setting a new record for the largest practical science experiment, Durban’s youth smashed the existing record held by Vijnana Bharati, India (Delhi), for 2 000 students. With 2 104 confirmed participants, a comfortable winning margin for the new record was assured.

In order to make this mammoth undertaking a reality, 2 104 learners, 60 teachers, 50 stewards and 50 volunteers all congregated at the Durban Exhibition Centre. During the lesson, students completed two different experiments. In an innovative attempt to save costs, the two experiments had been constructed using by-product materials kindly donated by MAHLE Behr’s production processes.  Each participating school received a set of equipment after the attempt.

To meet the very stringent Guinness World Record criteria and standards, the lesson had to take place in a given timescale, together in a pre-determined place. 

‘We had to meet a number of pre-requisites in order to get the official stamp of approval from Guinness,’ explained chief organiser, Mrs Jolene van Heerden. ‘The pack had to include a cover letter explaining the context of the record attempt. Then we had to get two independent specialist witness statements confirming that the rules had been adhered to and explicitly stating the exact and final figure of the total participants taking into account any participants who the stewards deducted from the total. The judges’ statements had to describe the counting process and overall attempt in detail. So it was all very technical.’

Video evidence of the entire record attempt was prepared and sent off to Guinness.  Another requirement was photographic evidence of the attempt taking place, capturing the details provided by independent witnesses.

‘Such strict rules are imperative because it gives credibility and weight to what is a ground-breaking effort,’ said officially-appointed Guinness World Record adjudicator and verifier, Professor Deo Jaganyi, who is Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.  ‘Being part of the Largest Practical Science Lesson is the perfect vehicle to generate enthusiasm with 2 104 high school learners, and makes Science fun and exciting.’

Jaganyi’s two co-adjudicators were lawyer and chief judge, Ms Suzanne de Villiers, and Durban Metro Police’s Senior Superintendent Theuns van Heerden.

The record attempt took place for an hour. During the adjudication process learners enjoyed a fun science show by Dr Tanja Reinhardt of the UKZN Science Centre, and got the opportunity to visit career stalls to find out more about STEM careers and study opportunities.

When chief judge de Villiers announced that Durban officially held the new world record for the largest practical science lesson, the hall erupted in a frenzy of excitement.

Well done, Durban!

 Sally Frost


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Architectural Student Awards – Green Thesis Wins Regional Contest

Architectural Student Awards – Green Thesis Wins Regional Contest
From left, Mthembeni Mkhize, Head of UKZN’s Department of Architecture; the winner, Najeeba Hassim; Allin Dangers; and Ruben Reddy, President of the KZN Institute for Architects.

Najeeba Hassim of the University of KwaZulu-Natal has won the regional Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award.

The competition, which is now in its 29th year, is between students from the country’s eight major universities. Regional winners are awarded on the basis of a final theses before going head to head at the national awards ceremony scheduled for Johannesburg in May.

Hassim won first prize of R8 000 for her work “Defining an architectural typology: Inner City Green Centres within South Africa”. Hassim proposes an environmental research facility in KwaZulu-Natal to address threatened natural resources and promote key green assets.

Calling it the Green Centre, Hassim placed her design along the edge of the uMngeni River, in Briardene. The facility was aimed at searching for solutions to improve the river water quality, protect and enhance ecosystems and harness untapped potential for river currents.

Second placed Jean Pierre Audibert’s thesis “The Cemet” promotes a discussion about the cemeteries or these “lost” spaces, as he described them, in the city of Durban. In third place, Julie Eneman’s thesis addresses the trauma of rape, sexual assault and abuse in an inner city support centre for Durban women.

The Director of sales at Corobrick, Allin Dangers, said the students had shown outstanding innovation and technical skill in their designs.

The Mercury, Network


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Orientation Week for First Year Students a Whole Lot of Fun

Orientation Week for First Year Students a Whole Lot of Fun
UKZN hosts successful Orientation Week.

UKZN’s 2016 first year students were welcomed with a comprehensive action-packed orientation week and treated to several informative infotainment style sessions from the University’s four Colleges.

College of Health Sciences’ Director of Professional Services, Professor Fanie Botha, welcomed everyone saying: ‘Start studying immediately and use your time wisely.’

The College received 57 779 applications for 883 first year places. Of these, 6 350 were applications for 250 places in the MBChB programme, 14 700 for 70 places in Nursing, and 34 000 for 479 places within degree programmes offered in the School of Health Sciences.  The College encouraged ethical behaviour on social media and promoted UKZN REACH principles.

The College of Law and Management Studies hosted various orientations for its undergraduate and postgraduate students. At the Law orientation on Howard College campus, Supreme Court of Appeal Judge, Mr Justice Wallis, shared his personal experience of practicing Law and advised students to use Law as a tool for justice.

‘After 45 years of practice I remain fascinated by the law,’ said Wallis. ‘While you are here we hope that you will learn a lot of skills and you must use what you have been given to make society a better place.’

Commerce and Management students on the Westville campus were inspired by UKZN alumnus, Mr Sanele Nkosi, who is BDO’s Audit Manager and a bursary beneficiary. Nkosi shared the challenges and rewards of his academic career and how his qualification empowered his climb up the career ladder, from doing his articles to becoming an Audit Manager at the prestigious accounting firm.

In Pietermaritzburg, students heard from Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa’s Director, Mr Muzi Kubeka, whose LLB from UKZN helped him craft his unique and specialised career in energy, project finance, public private partnerships, lending and syndicated lending and export credit finance. The students also participated in an upbeat programme which included games and a tour to familiarise them with the campus.

Addressing first year students from the College of Humanities, DVC and Head of the College, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, said: ‘Draw on the resources offered here, make use of the organisations on campus and take advantage of opportunities, reach out to mentors and academics to succeed. Create and carve out a career trajectory, work smart and lead a balanced life.’

Representatives from student housing, student financial services and student funding also informed the students about what was on offer.

During orientation, students were handed information packs and divided into large groups for a guided tour of the University’s campus grounds. Each group had an orientation mentor, easily recognisable by their blue uniforms.

Housing student Mr Rahul Khemraz chose the College of Humanities because he believes the expertise and resources at the University will enable him to be successful in his career choice.

Music student Ms Chloe Bydawell said: ‘Music has always been my passion and to be at UKZN and to study here. I know I’ll be able to make my dreams come true. Some of the best musicians have graduated from here and I know I’ll be one too.’

The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science  orientation programme, which ran over two days was equally well supported.  Buzzing with enthusiasm, the new students were confident they had what it takes to tackle the challenge of tertiary education.

A busy programme saw them being briefed on relevant topics such as campus safety, student support services, student governance, how to use the library and the LANs, student housing and residence life, sports facilities available, student funding and most importantly, essential university work habits for success. 

For a change in tempo, students were entertained by fun and interactive science shows. 

The highlight of Pietermaritzburg’s programme was a surprise appearance of iFani, who as a phenomenally successful South African hip-hop artist, is also a BSc Honours graduate. He inspired the students with a success story that grew out of poverty and humble beginnings. 

After formal procedures, the class of 2016 were then split into buddy groups and dispersed to tour their campus and start registering. 

Nombuso Dlamini, Sally Frost, Thandiwe Jumo, Melissa Mungroo


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Research Seminar Empowers Postgraduate Students

Research Seminar Empowers Postgraduate Students
Postgraduate research seminar participants.

A research seminar organised by the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance provided a platform for postgraduate students to present their proposals to academics and their peers and receive constructive feedback on how they could potentially improve their research.

The seminar, championed by the School’s Academic Leader for Higher Degrees and Research, Dr Harold Ngalawa featured presentations from the School’s PhD candidates, covering a broad range of topics in economics and finance.

“Essays on Financial Risk Management for Microfinance Institutions in Southern Africa” was the tittle of Mr Hlupheko Dube’s presentation. This research analyses the significance of financial risk management of the poor and middle class through investigating the impact of financial risk management systems on the financial performance of microfinance in South Africa.

Mr Tafirei Mashamba delivered a presentation titled: “Liquidity Management of Banks in the Visegrad Bloc Under Basel III Liquidity Regulation”. The research explores how banks respond to liquidity and how despite the good objectives of the Basel III liquidity regulations they are likely to have effects on the banks’ liquidity management processes.

Mr Adebayo Kutu’s presentation titled: “The Dynamics of Industrial Production in BRICS Countries” analysed the long run and short run dynamics between industrial output production and economic growth in the Emerging Market Economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS).

Ms Damilola Oyetade presented her research titled: “Cross Border Mergers and Acquisitions in BRICS: A long term Performance Approach”. The purpose of the study is to examine factors that affect the long term performance of BRICS firms that engage in cross border mergers and acquisitions (CBM&A) and establish whether intra-BRICS acquisitions are more beneficial than acquisitions outside of BRICS countries.

Ngalawa commented that it is important for the School to host such seminars as they create a platform for the sharing of knowledge which is Important in the financial and economics industry and for postgraduate students to gain valuable insights to improve their research.

Thandiwe Jumo


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Producing Quality Research is Top Priority for College of Law and Management Studies

Producing Quality Research is Top Priority for College of Law and Management Studies
Research Day participants.

The School of Accounting, Economics and Finance started the academic year by celebrating research excellence through the School’s annual research day as part of a drive to increase research output within the College of Law and Management Studies.

The School’s Dean and Head, Professor Anesh Singh, applauded academics for prioritising research, making special mention of development lecturers as 25% of the papers were presented by them.

‘It is very heartening to see our development lecturers concentrating on research, very aware of the primary goal of UKZN being a research-led institution,’ said Singh. ‘I would like to encourage our academics to look at partnering with academics from other schools to solve challenges we face today, including the water crises, so that we can go further in our effort to produce research that benefits the community,’ he said.

The day featured 20 academics showcasing quality research done in the School’s various disciplines focusing on these five themes:

·         Teaching and Learning

·         Growth and Welfare

·         Health and Environment

·         Organisational Finance

·         Monetary Policy and Microfinance.

In the Teaching and Learning stream, Mr Anthony Walker delivered a paper titled: “Assessment of the Financial Position and Financial Performance of South Africa’s Public Universities”; while Dr Karen Bargate presented on: “An Exploratory Study into the Approaches to Learning of Students Registered for a Professionally-Accredited Accounting Degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal”; and Mr Barry Strydom and Ms Kerry-Ann McCullough presented a paper titled: “Making Bricks From Straw: Promoting Undergraduate Research with Diminishing Resources.”

In the growth and welfare stream, Dr Collette Muller and Dr Claire Vermaak presented a paper titled: “Do Immigrants Have Better Labour Market Outcomes than South Africans?”; while Professor Jim Fairburn presented on “Welfare Economics Then and Now”; Mr Chris Tipoy presented on “the Impact of Exchange Rates Misalignments on Economic Growth: The case of homogeneous emerging countries” and Mr Ntokozo Nzimande presented a paper titled:  “Business Cycle Synchronisation in the SADC Region: Evidence from Common and Idiosyncratic Factors”.

In the health and environment session, Ms Michelle Dorasamy presented a paper on “Identifying Environmental and Economic Benefits of Cleaner Production in a Manufacturing Company: A Case Study of a Paper and Pulp Manufacturing Company in KwaZulu-Natal”; Dr Suren Pillay delivered a paper titled: “Evaluating the effect of Clean Development Mechanism projects on economic sustainable development in Nigeria”; while Ms Ralitza Dobreva presented a paper titled “Who is healthier? Investigating South African patterns of reporting heterogeneity in self-rated health”; and Dr Bruce Rhodes and Ms Tamyln Mackenzie presented a paper titled: “To what extent does socio-economic status still affect household access to water and sanitation services in South Africa?”

In the organisational finance stream, Ms Patricia Shewell presented a paper on “Developing a performance metric for the finance function of companies in the South African Freight Forwarding Industry”; Mr Mahomed Razak and Professor Lesley Stainbank delivered a presentation on “Fair Value Accounting by Listed South African Companies in the Non-Financial Sector”; while Mr Ayanda Meyiwa presented a paper on  “TNPA’s Current Pricing Strategy: The Present Case for Corporatization”; and Mr Sanele Gumede delivered a paper on the “Restructuring of South Africa’s Port Pricing Strategy”.

In the Monetary Policy and Microfinance stream, Dr Farai Kwenda presented a paper on “The development and evolution of microfinance in Zimbabwe”; Dr Harold Ngalawa presented a paper on “Monetary Policy and Interpolated Informal Sector Credit and Interest Rates: Evidence From Malawi”; while Mr Adebayo Kutu presented a paper on “Monetary Policy and Industrial Output in the BRICS: A NKDSGE Approach”; and Ms Simiso Msomi presented a paper on “Asymmetry of Monetary policy: Case of South Africa”.

It is envisaged that through such initiatives, the College of Law and Management Studies will make a valuable contribution to the University’s primary goal of becoming a research-led institution.

Thandiwe Jumo

 


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Two HPCSA Appointments from College of Health Sciences

Two HPCSA Appointments from College of Health Sciences
Dr Ahmed Muslim and Professor Basil Pillay.

Two UKZN academics were recently appointed to serve on the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for a five-year period ending in 2020.

They are Professor Basil Pillay, who was appointed as the Chairperson of the Professional Board for Psychology, and Dr Ahmed Muslim, appointed Chairperson for the Professional Board for Dental Therapy and Oral Hygiene.

Pillay Heads the School of Nursing and Public Health’s Department of Behavioural Medicine and is Chief Clinical Psychologist for Hospital Services in KwaZulu-Natal.

He is a member of several national and international bodies, represents his Discipline on national and international bodies and serves on several scientific committees. President of the Psychological Society of South Africa from 2006 to 2009, he is a Chartered Psychologist and Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS).

A supervisor of several PhD students, Pillay’s research interests include: stress and trauma, clinical neuropsychology and forensic psychology.

Muslim was previously co-opted to the Professional Board for Dental Therapy and Oral Hygiene, and has made valuable contributions to dental education through his role in conducting accreditation visits at various institutions.

The Dentistry Lecturer, also recently appointed as the Council Chairperson for the Continuous Professional Development Committee, said academia played a leading role in guiding and regulating the professions as very often academics were the link between industry and the community.

‘In fulfilling this role, I am contributing to community health by ensuring that the most-disadvantaged are not denied ethical, cost-effective, appropriate and accessible health care. This is a legacy that I as a UKZN academic wish to leave for the greater community.’

Lunga Memela 


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UKZN Astronomer’s Software Examines Radiation in Outer Space

UKZN Astronomer’s Software Examines Radiation in Outer Space
Artist impression of a Fast Radio Burst (FRB) reaching Earth.

UKZN Astrophysicist Professor Jonathan Sievers and a team of local and international astronomers have discovered a new Fast Radio Burst (FRB) that has provided the clearest view yet on what these enigmatic events might be.

FRBs put out enormous amounts of energy during their brief lives, only one thousandth of a second long.  During that instant, they are among the brightest things in the radio sky.  Only a handful have been discovered so far, and theories abound about their sources, ranging from stars inside our Milky Way galaxy to explosions on the other side of the universe.

In order to create this detailed examination of FRBs, the team of astronomers analysed 650 hours of observations from the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia. The resulting 40 terabytes of data were analysed using extremely sophisticated software developed by Sievers and his colleague, Dr Kiyoshi Masui, an Astronomer with the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. The software allowed for the data to be analysed in a much shorter time than what was previously possible.

The results of the study included the detection of a new FRB, named FRB 110523, and information regarding its origin. The data showed for the first time that the environment of the burst is magnetised, and that FRB 110523 came from well outside the Milky Way.

Sievers worked with 2 other UKZN astronomers for this study: postdoctoral researcher Dr Tabitha Voytek and PhD student Mr Apratim Ganguly. Voytek said: The results of the study demonstrate the versatility of radio astronomy, which will play a role in future radio telescope development.’

Said Ganguly: ‘I am grateful to Professor Sievers for introducing me to radio astronomy. This project was fascinating.’

The paper describing this discovery, co-authored by Sievers, Voytek, and Ganguly, appeared in the journal Nature in December last year.

‘This event gives us our clearest view yet on where fast radio bursts come from,’ said Sievers. ‘It's exciting to see that new ways of analysing data can make it easy to go back and search a truly massive dataset for extremely rare events.  This bodes well for the Square Kilometre Array and its South African precursors.’

 Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit


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UKZN Astronomer Discovers Cosmic Filaments

UKZN Astronomer Discovers Cosmic Filaments
Components of the galaxy cluster Abell 2744: galaxies (white), hot gas (red) and dark matter (blue).

UKZN Honorary Astrophysics Lecturer Dr Mathilde Jauzac and an international team of astrophysicists have discovered three massive filaments of hot gas and dark matter flowing towards a galaxy cluster named Abell 2744, thereby uncovering a portion of the cosmic skeleton of the Universe.

The scientists made this discovery using the European Space Agency’s X-ray Multi-Mirror Newton (XMM-Newton) Observatory, an X-ray telescope located in outer space which contains various instruments. 

Galaxies join together in clusters, which contain large amounts of gas and invisible dark matter and are held together by gravity. Different clusters are connected by elongated structures of hot gas and dark matter called filaments. Astronomers have theorised that the Universe is interconnected by filaments and that these interconnections form a Cosmic Web. In keeping with this idea, they have used computer simulations, to deduce that the cosmic web is the basic structure which is found throughout the Universe, from which stars, galaxies and clusters are created and grow.

Using 30 hours of observations obtained from the XMM-Newton Telescope in December 2014, the astronomers identified three filaments that are physically connected to the Abell 2744 galaxy cluster, and two filaments which are the projection of more distant structures viewed along the same line of sight.

‘We were finally able to detect the warm gas that composes these large-scale filaments. This work represents a really important step forward in our study of the build-up of the Cosmic Web,’ said Jauzac.

Jauzac, a former postdoctoral researcher at UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit, is currently conducting research at Durham University in the United Kingdom. The academic paper on this discovery which she has co-authored appeared in the Nature science journal on 3 December last year. 

 Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit


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Cryptococcal Meningitis Study is Making Headway

Cryptococcal Meningitis Study is Making Headway
Mr Katlego Sojane.

UKZN’s School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences PhD student in the HIV Pathogenesis Programme, Mr Katlego Sojane, is conducting a study in the area of cryptococcal meningitis.

The study aims to test whether increased inflammation exacerbates viral genotypic compartmentalisation or disruption of the BBB results in equilibration of genetic variants between the CNS and peripheral blood in HIV-Cryptococcus neoformans co-infected individuals.

The study was titled: “Cryptococcal Meningitis/HIV Co-Infection” is characterised by Viral Genotypic Intermixing between the Cerebrospinal Fluid and Blood Compartments and Predominance of CCR5-Tropic Variants.

Sojane said his work aimed to examine the genetic and functional properties of HIV subtype C resident in matched blood and the cerebrospinal fluid.

‘Cryptococcal meningitis (CM) is the leading cause of adult meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa and approximately 10-20% of HIV-related deaths are due to CM. We are studying the genetic and functional properties of HIV in people living with HIV-CM co-infection. By the end of the study, we expect to understand better how HIV and Cryptococcus neoformans work together to cause disease,’ he said.

According to Sojane, an HIV vaccine is needed to curtail the number of new infections and to control the HIV epidemic but it remains elusive.

‘Our studies will contribute to the understanding of HIV pathogenesis for vaccine design strategies or optimising treatments with regimens available currently,’ he added.

He believes their research is cutting-edge, incorporating assays that were recently developed and reliable enough to use for answering the study questions they posed.

‘It has given insight into the properties of HIV from peripheral blood and the central nervous system which will be important for the formulation of diagnostic tools and treatment strategy for individuals living with HIV and cryptococcal meningitis,’ said Sojane. 

The study is being conducted at the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute, UZKN Medical School campus with study participants enrolled from King Edward VIII Hospital.

The research is ongoing and Sojane said recommendations would be made at the conclusion of the work.

Sojane and his group of researchers believe this study will improve the understanding of HIV disease progression so that people will be better informed about how to manage their health if they do get infected.

‘Also, for those living with HIV, interventions to improve the quality and span of their life will be made from the contributions of our research.’

He is currently preparing lectures for undergraduate students in Medical Biochemistry as well as working on his PhD degree.

‘I would like to do some journalism within science and be able to report and teach concepts to individuals who want to learn science without all the complicated jargon.’

Johannesburg-born Sojane loves sport and is an Orlando Pirates fan. ‘I am a basketball lover and sneaker collector. I do long distance runs for fun and to maintain good health. My other interests are in philosophy and psychology.’

Nombuso Dlamini 


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Emergency Medicine Workshop for PHC Nurses in eThekwini

Emergency Medicine Workshop for PHC Nurses in eThekwini
Dr Mergan Naidoo with Emergency medicine workshop participants.

UKZN’s Discipline of Family Medicine recently hosted an Emergency Medicine Workshop (EM) for Primary Health Care (PHC) nurses in primary emergency care following a request from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health’s eThekwini district.

Co-ordinated by Dr Mergan Naidoo, a Lecturer and specialist in Family Medicine at UKZN, the workshop was designed for emergency room nurses and doctors based at hospitals and community health centres.

Said Naidoo: ‘The EM workshop was a collaboration between the Disciplines of Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Paediatrics and Trauma Surgery.

‘The course offers a modular programme which is based on minimal didactic input and greater emphasis on emergency simulation training. Simulation training has been acknowledged by the World Health Organization as a meaningful way to provide educational intervention.’

The workshop covered the following topics: An introduction to paediatrics using the (Emergency triage and treatment) ETAT approach, resuscitation, Triage, HIV emergencies, an approach to the rape survivor, a basic approach to trauma, medical emergencies (diabetes mellitus, hypertension, asthma), an approach to the unconscious/fitting patient, toxicology in the emergency room, an approach to a patient with a cardiac condition, emergency use of radiology, emergency equipment needs and ethics in the emergency room.

The PHC workshop was adapted to meet the PHC nurse needs so some of the modules of the original programme were not covered in this workshop.

Emphasis at the workshop was on using clinical skills to assess and manage patients appropriately. The simulation stations reinforced the use of clinical skills and clinical reasoning as a means of making decisions in the best interests of the patient.

Alignment to the needs of the DoH ideal clinic was made and participants were encouraged to reflect on their own practice and make small changes in their work environment to improve their practice.

Feedback from participants was excellent with many PHC nurses indicating that they could immediately start implementing measures to their current practice. Of particular relevance was the use of the South African Triage Tool as a means of prioritising sick patients.

Nurses indicated they would also start using the information and skills gained in all of the clinical simulations.

Feedback from the eThekwini district Clinical Specialist PHC Co-ordinator, Mrs Dudu Ntombela, was extremely positive. She said: ‘We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr Naidoo and the team of doctors who facilitated the Emergency Workshop for PHC Nurses.  The workshop was well structured and very informative.’

 Nombuso Dlamini


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CHS appoints New DST/NRF South African Research Chair

CHS appoints New DST/NRF South African Research Chair
Professor Exnevia Gomo.

UKZN’s College of Health Sciences (CHS) has welcomed Professor Exnevia Gomo of Zimbabwe as the new DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Indigenous Health Care Systems.

Gomo was previously at the University of Zimbabwe’s College of Health Sciences where he was Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences and also served as the first Director of the Research Support Centre.  

He said he chose UKZN because of its position as a premier academic institution in Africa - ‘obviously, any serious academic would like to be associated with such an institution’.

Gomo was also attracted to UKZN because of its focus on traditional medicine, addressing - as it does - key strategic areas for traditional health care in African countries.

‘I plan, through collaborative initiatives and training, to enhance UKZN’s capacity to conduct high quality research on traditional medicine, focusing on preclinical and clinical evaluation of herbal medicine.’

He also plans to enhance the understanding and generate evidence of indigenous health care systems and delivery for the benefit of policy makers, the traditional health practitioners, patients and other stakeholders.

Gomo has been involved in traditional medicine since the mid-90s when he was involved in the research of traditional herbs for HIV in Zimbabwe ‘amid claims by traditional healers that they can cure HIV’.

His research interests involve infectious diseases, particularly HIV and bilharzias, and the role of nutrition and traditional medicine. He has been involved in research since the early 1990s when he worked at the Blair Research Institute in Zimbabwe.

Gomo was also involved in the development of the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on research methodologies for evaluation of traditional medicines and was the first Director of the Department of Traditional Medicine in the Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe where he facilitated the development of the national traditional medicine policy.

He holds a Diploma in Biological Sciences Laboratory Techniques, an MSc in Applied Immunology, a PhD in Immunology and a Diploma in Research Methodology.

Gomo has extensive experience in health research in Zimbabwe through regional and international collaboration. He started his research career in 1988 at the Blair Research Institute, Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Zimbabwe. In 1994 he established and led, as Senior Medical Scientist, the HIV/AIDS Research Unit which he headed until 2003 when he left to join the University of Zimbabwe.

In 2007, Gomo joined the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine as Director of the newly established Research Support Centre.

In 2011 he returned to Zimbabwe to establish the University of Zimbabwe’s College of Health Sciences Research Support Centre.

Nombuso Dlamini


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UKZN Bids Farewell to ‘Living Legend’

UKZN Bids Farewell to ‘Living Legend’
Professor Thandinkosi Madiba.

UKZN’s HOD of Surgery and ‘living legend’, Professor Thandinkosi Madiba, has retired from both UKZN and as the Head of the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital’s (IALCH) Colorectal Unit.

Madiba has since been appointed as an Emeritus Professor. 

After qualifying as a medical doctor in 1976, Madiba completed his internship at Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg where he later became a Medical Officer. This was followed by a stint in private practice in Durban.

‘I have always loved surgery,’ he said. ‘But I rotated through a number of specialties during my internship and when I was a Medical Officer, the objective being to make sure I chose the right discipline to specialise in.’

When he qualified as a surgeon, he had an option of becoming a private surgeon or surgeon in academic practice. He chose the latter, joining UKZN’s Department of Surgery as a Lecturer in 1987 after obtaining his Fellowship in General Surgery.

The celebrated Professor obtained an MBChB, MMed, LLM (Medical Law) and a PhD from UKZN, a Diploma in International Research Ethics from the University of Cape Town as well as a Fellowship in Surgery and Colorectal Surgery from the College of Surgeons of South Africa and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.

‘In 1994 I realised I had an interest in the diseases of the colon, rectum and anus,’ he explained.  In 1999 he went to train as a colorectal surgeon in the UK. ‘In 2000 I started a colorectal practice and in 2005 I established the Colorectal Unit at IALCH.’

All is not lost though! ‘I will continue with my on-going research projects and with the supervision of students and other junior researchers. I will also continue to lead the newly established Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Centre.’

Madiba was rated in the Top 30 researchers at UKZN from 2008 to 2010 and is rated as a C+ Researcher by the National Research Foundation.

His achievements include 11 book chapters and over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles. He has participated in more than 300 international and national congresses, giving invited lectures and scientific papers, and still does reviews for many international and national journals.

Madiba advises his former colleagues to follow their passion and never allow material things to be motivating factors. ‘That way you will be happy in your job and you will be able achieve great things. But, if you allow materialism to rule your life, you will never be happy.’

He is married to Puseletso and they have two sons and three granddaughters. I will now spend more time with my family and have more opportunity to play with my grandchildren. I’ll also have time for long walks on the beach and spending more time at the gym.’ 


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Employee of the Year 2015 Chats to UKZNDabaOnline

Employee of the Year 2015 Chats to UKZNDabaOnline
Ms Khanyisile Mantengu Mthembu.

A Fieldworker at the Africa Centre, Ms Khanyisile Mantengu Mthembu, is the Employee of the Year 2015.  Here, this very special person tells us just a bit about herself:

Q. Tell us about your job and what it entails

A.  I am a fieldworker at the Africa Centre. My key-role as a fieldworker is to collect research data and maintain good relations with the research community. Fieldwork also involves undertaking general health education.  We are trained to carry out health checks, including the ‘finger prick’ HIV test as well as blood pressure monitoring. This is a very challenging but exciting job.

Q. Staff voted you Africa Centre’s 2015 Employee of the Year.  How does that feel?

A. I am very excited to know that my colleagues recognise my hard work at the Africa Centre.

Q. Baba Barlow, who we associate with these awards, was a man with a very strong personal and professional character.  What qualities do you think staff saw in you that are similar to Baba Barlow’s?

A. I believe that they voted for me because of my good work ethic.  I also give advice to younger colleagues about life in general.

Q. You have worked at the Centre for many years.  Tell us something about the experience.

A. It has been long and often difficult but I have enjoyed the experience thoroughly.  Being away from your family and home is never easy or nice and for a long time I did that to be nearer to work.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your work at the Centre?

A.  Meeting new people all the time is what I enjoy most, while working with the community teaches me a whole lot of new things and I also love to hear people’s opinions on the work I do.

Q. Tell us something about your family.

A. My family is happy, peaceful, unified and I love them all to bits!!

Q.  When you are not at work, what do you enjoy doing?

A.   I enjoy spending quality time with my grandchildren.

Lihle Sosibo


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UKZN Hosts Successful 2016 Parents Days

UKZN Hosts Successful 2016 Parents Days
UKZN Parents Day 2016.

Senior representatives of the University of KwaZulu-Natal have held meetings on the Howard College, Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses with parents of first-year students.

The aim of the Parents Day meetings was for the University to extend a warm welcome to parents and reassure them that they have made the correct decision in sending their children to UKZN.

The gatherings also create a platform for University staff to engage with parents and share useful information about the support that will be given to their children. Parents are also informed about the various scholarship packages and funding options on offer.

Speaking on behalf of the College of Law and Management Studies were the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, Professor Renuka Vithal (Westville campus); Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College, Professor John Mubangizi (Pietermaritzburg campus), and the Executive Director of Corporate Relations, Mr Lesiba Seshoka (Howard College campus).

They all assured parents that their children’s academic journey would be a rewarding one if they took full advantage of the academic and student services  support offered by the University.

‘Remember that at UKZN, your child will be competing with some of the smartest young people locally, nationally and internationally. As such, they need to apply themselved diligently. Encourage your children to start studying immediately,’ advised Vithal.

The College Deans and Heads of Schools spoke about the various undergraduate programmes offered in the College, while representatives of Academic Development Coordinators, Student Services and Student Funding Services spoke about systems in place to ensure each student succeeds.

The College of Health Sciences (CHS) congratulated parents of some of UKZN’s brightest youngsters who have enrolled this year.

‘Entrance to UKZN is highly competitive and we have a legacy of attracting top learners from rural and urban areas,’ CHS Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head, Professor Rob Slotow, told parents. 

Slotow said the students would compete with some of the smartest in the country and internationally.

He said when the College felt a student was not performing well it provided the necessary support. This was reiterated by Student Support Services Manager, Dr Saloschni Pillay, who spoke about the College’s ‘holistic’ approach towards ensuring student success.

Speaking at Parents Day, DVC and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, welcomed everyone to the event, while also informing parents that the University holds the number 1 position in South Africa in terms of research output for two consecutive years, also ranking in the top 3% of the world’s universities. ‘These achievements reflect both the teaching and learning aspect, alongside research excellence within the University,’ she said.

Reflecting on the #Feesmustfall campaign, Potgieter stated that UKZN remains committed to finding sustainable solutions to the challenges that continue to face the Higher Education sector and is engaging various stakeholders accordingly.

Mrs Sizakele Mtshali of Dundee, said Parents Day had been both informative and vital. ‘I am proud my daughter Nelisa has chosen my alma mater as her first choice of study. I am confident she will excel.’

Mrs Lorna Govender of Chatsworth added: ‘UKZN is one of the best universities in the country and to have my child Mallison studying here is a dream come true. I cannot wait to see her graduate with her Bachelor of Arts degree.’

Representatives from student housing, student financial services and student funding informed parents about what was on offer for first-year students.

The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science hosted three events for its new crop of proud parents, on the Pietermaritzburg, Howard College and Westville campuses.

Among ‘Engineering parents’ on Howard College, was proud father Mr Godfrey Mthembu of Umzinto, and his son, Mr Ibrahim Mthembu. 

Ibrahim is the first in his extended family to attend university.  He matriculated at Umzinto Secondary School with As and Bs in his exams and is now set to tackle his BSc Electrical Engineering degree.

Sally Frost, Thandiwe Jumo, Lunga Memela, Melissa Mungroo


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UKZN Rheumatologist First African to be Inducted as Master by the American College of Rheumatology

UKZN Rheumatologist First African to be Inducted as Master by the American College of Rheumatology
At the American College of Rheumatology awards ceremony were UKZN’s Professor Girish Mody (centre) with ACR President-elect, Dr Joan M. Von Feldt, and ACR President, Dr E. William St. Clair.

UKZN’s Head of Rheumatology, Professor Girish Mody, joined an esteemed group of Rheumatologists when the designation of Master was bestowed on him by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) at their annual congress in San Francisco in the United States.

Mody is the first African Rheumatologist to receive this honour and is now among an elite group of Rheumatologists who have been inducted as Masters by the College since 1987.

Recognition as a Master is the highest honour the ACR bestows on its distinguished members aged 65 or older who have made a significant and outstanding contribution in the field of rheumatology through scholarly achievement and service to patients, students and the profession. ACR Masters are highly accomplished individuals who are nominated by their peers.

An internationally renowned Rheumatologist, Mody is passionate about improving the education and training of health professionals as well as playing an advocacy role to achieve better outcomes for patients.

He began his illustrious career completing undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and training at the former University of Natal’s Medical Faculty, after which he completed his Rheumatology Fellowship at the University of Cape Town, where he also obtained his doctorate.

In 1992, Mody was appointed as the first Aaron Beare Family Chair in Rheumatology at UKZN. He is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and a Fellow of UKZN.

In 2001, Mody was elected as ambassador for the United Nations endorsed Bone and Joint Decade 2000 – 2010 and is currently a member of the International Coordinating Council of the Global Alliance of Musculoskeletal Health, an organisation which strives to raise the profile of musculoskeletal diseases.

Other administrative roles include President of the South African Rheumatism and Arthritis Association and the African League of Associations for Rheumatology, and an executive committee member of the International League of Associations for Rheumatology. From January 2005 to April 2006, Mody served as Dean of UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine.

Mody’s research interests include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, systemic lupus erythematosus and HIV associated rheumatic diseases. His research has raised awareness of the emerging burden, clinical profile, outcome and challenges in the management of rheumatic diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.

In July last year, Mody delivered a plenary lecture on “Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis in sub-Saharan Africa” at the 4th World Congress on Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis in Stockholm, while in September, he gave an address on “Spectrum of Rheumatic Diseases in sub-Saharan Africa” at the African Rheumatology Congress in Lagos, Nigeria.

Despite a lack of designated training posts, his department has trained 11 Rheumatologists in KwaZulu-Natal, while a further two are currently doing their Fellowship. He is also involved in the teaching and training of Medical students and registrars in internal medicine.

Commenting on his induction as a Master, Mody said: ‘It is indeed an honour to be recognised by my peers. I am truly humbled to receive this designation and must acknowledge the inspiration from the many thousands of patients whom I had the privilege to serve, the passion and enthusiasm of generations of undergraduate and postgraduate students, and the support of my staff and peers throughout my career.’

Congratulating Mody on his induction, the Head of the University of Witwatersrand’s Department of Rheumatology, Professor Mohammed Tikly, said: ‘A well-deserved accolade for a man who has worked tirelessly for the good of African rheumatology. This is indeed a proud moment for him and his family.’

 MaryAnn Francis


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UKZN Students Dominate in Unilever Business Competition

UKZN Students Dominate in Unilever Business Competition
Team South Africa (from left) Ms Lilly Njila, Mr Kwazini Zulu and Ms Bongeka Dlamini.

UKZN students Ms Bongeka Dlamini, Mr Kwazini Zulu and Ms Lilly Njila are preparing to represent Africa at the Unilever Future Leaders League in London later this year after winning the South African leg of the Unilever Africa Idea Trophy Competition, a student business competition for penultimate-year university students across Africa.

Designed to improve youth employability, the competition provides students with the opportunity to work on real-life business challenges in a creative and dynamic work environment. Students are given access to world-class training from Unilever’s leaders and get to work on some of Africa’s most beloved brands.

Dlamini, Zulu and Njila, also known as Team South Africa, will be in London, alongside Team Nigeria, to compete with 30 other countries at the Unilever Future Leaders League.  They were also awarded Infinix smart phones.

‘This experience was the highlight of our year and it is an honour to represent our country, and continent, for South Africa’s Number 1 Top Employer at the Unilever Future Leaders League,’ said Dlamini.

In the initial part of the competition, the students were challenged to design a Unilever product programme that created social change through movement and impacted 4 million consumers by 2017.

All the group members had to present their ideas in the semi-final round with three teams going through to the final round in which Bongeka, Zulu and Njila were victorious.

They went on to represent South Africa at the Africa Finals held last month in Johannesburg where they competed against Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana.

Dlamini said each team was given a case study and had to create a mobile-first digital campaign that would create ‘talkability for Unilever’s youth employability initiatives such as Shield’s Class of Confidence’. 

The UKZN students, who are all members of Enactus UKZN, believe the experience they have gained in Enactus proved vital in their win. ‘Getting involved in extra-mural activities allows one the opportunity to find your passion, while still gaining the necessary experience needed to further your career,’ said Dlamini.

‘As Young African Millennials, the progression and development of Africa lies in our hands and this is why we are seizing every opportunity at our disposal and using our gifts and passions to contribute towards making Africa a first world continent,’ she said.

 Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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‘Bright Sparks’ Choose College of Law and Management Studies

‘Bright Sparks’ Choose College of Law and Management Studies
Ms Lisha Ramcharan and Ms Nayna Narotam.

The College of Law and Management Studies continues to attract the cream of the crop for undergraduate study - the latest acquisitions are high fliers, Ms Lisha Ramcharan and Ms Nayna Narotam, who passed their matric exams with eight and seven distinctions respectively!

Ramcharan and Narotam say they are now looking forward to excelling in their chosen careers in commerce.

For Ramcharan, a former Newhaven Secondary School pupil, pursuing a BCom Accounting degree was motivated by her love of numbers.

‘Accounting was definitely my favourite subject at high school and I excelled in it, so I decided to pursue tertiary studies in this field,’ she said. ‘I also enjoyed mathematics and was good with numbers. Additionally, there are large prospects in the commerce sector and it is a respectable career.’

She intends pursuing an honours degree to qualify for the board exams on her way to becoming a Chartered Accountant.

For Narotam, a BCom (Accounting) degree is the first step in her journey to becoming a Chartered Accountant. The former Seatides Combined High School pupil says she is looking forward to the career opportunities a qualification in commerce will give her.

‘During matric I enjoyed accounting and mathematics. I find these subjects both interesting and enjoyable. I am grateful to my parents who supported me throughout my school years,’ she said.

 Thandiwe Jumo


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UKZN SRC Launches I-CARE-UKZN Campaign to Help Students in Need

UKZN SRC Launches <em>I-CARE-UKZN</em> Campaign to Help Students in Need
From left: Mr Michael Davids, Student Funding; Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, Vice Chancellor and Principal ; UKZN Foundation’s Director, Mrs Jane Meyerowitz and Mr Senzo Ngidi.

Student leadership in conjunction with Student Services and the UKZN Foundation has launched the i care UKZN initiative to assist academically deserving students who have no funds to continue their studies.

SRC President, Mr Senzo Ngidi, said it was always sad when students from disadvantaged backgrounds were unable to gain access to Higher Education because of funding problems.

Ngidi said he was happy to finally launch the I-CARE-UKZN initiative and thanked those who had already contributed to the fund.

The I-CARE-UKZN campaign aims to raise funds to assist academically excellent students who do not have funding to continue with their studies.

With the support of University management, the SRC will drive the campaign and make appeals to staff, students, corporates, individuals and all stakeholders to support this very worthy cause.

‘It is heartening to see this level of passion and philanthropy in young people. They are our future leaders and we urge you all to consider this as an investment in your future,’ said Dr Sibusiso Chalufu, UKZN’s Executive Director of Student Services in his message of support. 

Relaying his message of support, UKZN Vice-Chancellor, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, congratulated the student leadership on the commencement of the fund.

‘I would like to commend all of you on this ground-breaking initiative that is designed to empower financially needy students through the direct support of not only their fellow students but also the wider University community.

‘Potential donors now have the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of these young students and I thank them in advance for their generosity. The University is immensely grateful for your support and investment in the future of the country,’ said Van Jaarsveld.

An amount of R12 000 was donated to launch the fund by the student and university leadership.

Van Jaarsveld urged staff, students and alumni to donate towards the fund. ‘Our supporters, students, staff and alumni all have a part to play. By working together in pursuit of our shared passions we can surely make a real difference for future generations.’

Anyone interested in donating to the campaign or looking for more information should visit the UKZN website clicking on http://www.ukzn.ac.za/icare and click on “I-CARE-UKZN”.


 Sithembile Shabangu


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College of Humanities hosts 2015 Staff Excellence Awards

College of Humanities hosts 2015 Staff Excellence Awards
Ms Tiny Mungwe (left) receives the DVC’s Community Engagement Award, awarded by DVC Professor Cheryl Potgieter (right).

Professional and academic staff were recognised for their hard work, dedication and positive impact when the College of Humanities hosted its annual staff excellence awards.

Speaking at the event, DVC and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, congratulated staff for their outstanding contribution and innovative output during the year. ‘We recognise the hard work you have put in and applaud your work ethic and commitment to the College.’

College Director for Professional Services, Mr Kishore Gobardan, added: ‘We are proud as we are fast becoming the best College at UKZN.’

The following awards were made:

•   DVC’s Special Recognition Award (Academic): Professor Paulus Zulu

•   DVC’s Community Engagement Award (Academic): Ms Tiny Mungwe and Dr Thabo Msibi

•   The Best Emerging Teacher (Academic): Dr Federico Settler

•   The Best Teaching Team (Academic): Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer and Ms Bridget Horner

•   Service Excellence Award (Professional): Ms Nokuthula Mtshali, Ms Slindo Shamase, Mrs Anusha Reddy, Ms Indirani Naidoo and Mr Lucky Chilli.

•   Innovation Award: Mr Michael Ely  

•   Outstanding Team Award (Professional): School of Social Sciences Pietermaritzburg team comprising Ms Hazel Rampaul, Ms Nancy Mudau, Ms Perdita Peters, Ms Nondumiso Ngubo and Mr Vincent Mashau.

•   Research Awards:

Top Researcher in the Humanities: Professor Goolam Vahed

Top Emerging Researcher in the Humanities: Dr Maheshvari Naidu.

Service Excellence Award winner, Committee Officer Ms Nokuthula Mtshali said: ‘Thank you to the College for recognising my contributions, and thank you to my colleagues and friends for all the support you have given me since I joined the College. It means a lot to me. I will continue to give my best.’

Naidu, the Top Emerging Researcher in Humanities who received her award in absentia as she was at a conference in Berlin, said she was glad to be able to contribute to the College. ‘The Humanities and the Social Sciences do not come always across as seductive or “hard hitting” as the other natural sciences, but have the potential to contribute powerfully to global issues.’

Naidu, who also received the award in 2013, was the Top Published UKZN Woman Researcher in 2014 and finished third in the Top 30 researcher rankings rankings. ‘When there is immense pressure to do research and publish, we need more than ever to be focused on the quality of that research and its knowledge production and actual societal value,’ she said.

The awards function also recognised staff members, Mrs Fiona Bell and Mr Mthembeni Mkhize, who are retiring, and other staff members for their long-service within the College.

Melissa Mungroo


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