UKZN Alumnus Excels in the Legal Sector

UKZN Alumnus Excels in the Legal Sector
Ms Bridgett Majola.

Winning the Ellie Newman Memorial Moot Final Competition in 2006 was an indication that Ms Bridgett Majola’s passion for law would translate into a successful career… and it has!

Majola said her degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal was valuable because the core compulsory modules were very well organised and structured providing a good, basic foundation.

‘During the course of our study we also had an opportunity to take modules for professional legal training, advocacy, using the legal databases etc, all of which became incredibly relevant particularly in the beginning of our legal careers.’

Majola began her career in 2007 as a candidate attorney at Shepstone & Wyle Attorneys, completed her articles in 2009 and worked as an internal consultant at Investec Private Bank. In 2010 she was appointed as an Associate at Read Hope Phillips Attorneys and joined Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr as a Senior Associate in 2012.

Currently she is an Admitted and Practising Attorney and Notary Public at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, a position she assumed in November 2012 and specialises in Project Finance  in the Finance and Banking Department.

‘In order to be a relatively competent legal practitioner it is imperative to have a working knowledge of basic company law and corporate law, particularly if one is going to be dealing with large multinational clients who are in the mergers and acquisitions space.

‘Currently, I specialise in project finance, specifically relating to the finance, construction, operation, and maintenance of renewable energy generation facilities in South Africa in terms of the government’s IPP Procurement Programme,’ said Majola.

Apart from practising law, Majola is an active advocate for human rights through speaking at international conferences on Human Rights and also works with a number of youth organisations that focus in the areas of education, mentorship, entrepreneurship and leadership.

‘It is important for me to be a good role model to young people. I am extremely passionate about identifying, developing, promoting and mentoring emerging young African women. As we rise in our careers as junior professionals, it is important for us to “raise others as we rise”. This is why mentorship is absolutely crucial for me. It is easy, it is high impact, it is sustainable and anyone can do it,’ said Majola.

-          Thandiwe Jumo

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Contraception and Increased Risk of HIV-1 Acquisition Debated

Contraception and Increased Risk of HIV-1 Acquisition Debated
Dr Zdenek Hel.

UKZN’s College of Health Sciences and the K-RITH Research Lecture Series hosted a talk by Dr Zdenek Hel, Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and the Department of Microbiology at the University of Alabama in the United States.

Hel spoke about his work on the role of Neutrophils in the immune response to HIV1 and also on how certain types of injectable contraceptives may influence HIV1 transmission.

Titled: “The Role of Neutrophils in HIV-1/AIDS Effect of Hormonal Contraception on Mucosal HIV-1 Transmission”, the talk was attended by students from K-RITH, CAPRISA, HPP and UKZN.

According to Hel, contraception represents a critical component of preventive health care.  It provides women with a control over their reproductive health, reduces the number of unintended pregnancies, decreases maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, reduces recourse to abortion, lowers the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1, and provides additional benefits including reduction of poverty and improved access to education.

He said hormonal contraception is highly popular as it provided multiple advantages over other forms of contraception, including high effectiveness and a long-term effect.

Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA; Depo-Provera), a progestin-only contraceptive typically administered in the form of three-monthly intramuscular injections, is one of the most commonly used contraceptives in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas with high HIV-1 prevalence.

Hel said: ‘It is estimated that 20-50 million women worldwide use DMPA and the number is steadily increasing. In some countries, DMPA is the method of choice for over 50 percent of women using modern methods of contraception. Unfortunately, multiple observational studies suggest an association between the use of hormonal contraception and increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition and transmission. We have recently demonstrated that DMPA suppresses the production of key regulators of cellular and antibody-mediated immunity.’

He said the effect of hormonal contraception on HIV-1 acquisition and transmission represented a critical global public health issue.

‘A recent WHO meeting on programmatic and research priorities for contraception for women at risk of HIV, identified the research addressing the association between various methods of hormonal contraception and HIV acquisition and transmission as a top priority, with an emphasis on injectables and other long-term methods,’ he said.

Accumulated studies indicating the immunosuppressive properties of DMPA, and the epidemiological evidence demonstrating an association between DMPA use and increased risk of HIV-1 and other infections, strongly suggest that the use of DMPA should be discontinued, especially in areas with high HIV-1 prevalence.

‘It must be stressed that DMPA use should not be discontinued unless it is replaced with equally effective pregnancy control. Thus, it is critical to identify a contraceptive regimen that could effectively replace DMPA without exerting undesired side effects,’ Hel said.

He said identification of contraceptives that did not suppress the protective properties of the immune system was critical for the selection of safe hormonal contraception in areas with high HIV-1 prevalence.

‘In order to find safe alternatives to DMPA, we analysed the effect of commonly used progestins on the adaptive and innate immune systems. The presented data identify several progestins that can be considered as alternatives to DMPA.

‘Importantly, women using any form of hormonal contraception should be strongly advised to use condoms, male or female, as recommended by recent WHO guidelines,’ he said.  Hel also discussed the role of neutrophils in HIV-1 infection and HIV-1/tuberculosis co-infection.

Neutrophils, the most abundant leukocyte type representing 50-70 percent of white blood cells, are traditionally recognised as essential effector cells of the innate immune system in the host defense against invading pathogens.

In recent years, a new appreciation of the role of neutrophils in interacting with and regulating the adaptive arm of the immune system has emerged.

Neutrophils co-localise and actively communicate with T cells at sites of persistent infection and chronic inflammation and migrate to the draining lymph nodes where they are involved in the induction and regulation of cellular and humoral immune responses.

Accumulating evidence supports the role played by neutrophils in the negative regulation of T cell function.

Hel said: ‘We have demonstrated that neutrophils in HIV-1-infected individuals are highly suppressive and contribute to ongoing T cell exhaustion and immune suppression in HIV-1 infection. Blocking the activation and suppressor function of neutrophils could improve immune competence in patients with AIDS.’

Neutrophils have been recently shown to be the major population of cells infected in patients with active TB, he added. ‘Importantly, we believe that the HIV-induced changes in the properties of human neutrophils may lead to reactivation of TB in HIV-1/TB co-infected individuals.’

Last month, Hel obtained a pilot grant aimed at establishing a collaboration between the scientists at K-RITH and the University of Alabama.

K-RITH is a unique institution performing the highest quality of research at a place where it matters most in the centre of an HIV and TB epidemic.

Professor Alasdair Leslie, Assistant Investigator, K-RITH: KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV said Hel was invited so a wide audience could learn about the kind of research he is undertaking and to stimulate discussions about the possibility of establishing collaborations between his group and research groups based at the College of Health Sciences.

During his three-day visit, Hel met staff to discuss their research, talk about areas of shared interest and discussed potential future collaboration.

Leslie said: ‘One direct benefit is that Dr Hel and my group have recently been awarded a small pilot grant (50,000 USD) from the University of Alabama to look at the Neutrophil response in patients infected with HIV/TB co-infection.’

Hel said: ‘We are excited about our collaboration with the excellent scientists at K-RITH, namely Al Leslie and Andries Steyn, and have big plans for the future.’

Nombuso Dlamini

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New Networking Facilitator for Friends of UKZN Agriculture

New Networking Facilitator for Friends of UKZN Agriculture
Ms Christine Cuénod.

Ms Christine Cuénod has joined the ranks of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences as the new Networking Facilitator for Friends of UKZN Agriculture (FOA) - an association which aims to form, improve and maintain relationships between the School and agribusinesses as well as its alumni.

Cuénod, a UKZN graduate in Media and Cultural Studies, will be responsible for liaising between the School and agribusiness as well as updating School alumni on developments and events. Part of her function includes facilitating contract research, setting up opportunities for students to visit businesses and farms, finding bursaries and employment opportunities, and receiving guest speakers, as well as providing information to anyone who wants to know what is happening at the School.

The aim of the work being done by FOA is to connect the School with important collaborators and enable it to act as a key partner feeding into business and society, ensuring that SAEES upholds its reputation as the premier producer of Agricultural graduates on the continent. FOA was established in May 2012 and has since established many meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships between the School and industry.

Cuénod is based in Room 1 in the Rabie Saunders building on the Pietermaritzburg campus and can be contacted at or telephone (033) 260 6557.

-          Swasti Maney

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Architecture Students Display Portfolios for Exams

Architecture Students Display Portfolios for Exams
Architecture staff with students after the design portfolios external examination.

The Architecture Discipline within the School of Built Environment and Development Studies held a display of student design portfolios for external examination on the Howard College campus.

These Portfolios are the culmination of a full year of Architectural urban design, mixed used (trade, office and social housing) projects done during the first semester with the final project public buildings completed in the second semester.

The theme of the display was: Public Buildings as a Generator of Trade in an Urban Precinct, with projects produced mainly public libraries, art centres, art galleries, tourist centres, museums, civil society centres, train stations, bus stations and multi-modal public transport stations.

According to Architecture Lecturer, Mr Juan Solis, there were 40 students with individual Public Building projects ranging between 12 000 and 15 000 sq.m in design area.

‘In line with their Urban Design interventions this semester, students were tasked to design public buildings with projects all located in Warwick Junction. During their first semester the students studied the area in great detail and came up with the design of six Urban intervention proposals as to how they saw Warwick Junction in 50 years from now,’ said Solis.

Fourth-year student, Ms Kajal Budhia, whose project titled: “Bridging the Past: A Museum as a Generator of Trade in Warwick” designed a museum to bridge the apartheid past. ‘This museum can be considered a living museum as it allows for the public to get involved in exhibiting their work and in turn facilitates the healing process.’

Another fourth year student, Mr Nischolan Pillay, designed and proposed an Eco-Innovation Centre in which the ecology and sustainability theory was used as a basis for his design. ‘My design can be seen as a way to empower Warwick. This centre can be used in many ways such as a training centre to teach people about green building and even as a management centre in which systems can be monitored.”

Both students plan on becoming fully-fledged architects and advised all students to work hard and to have passion for what they do.

-           Melissa Mungroo

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First Indian Woman Orthorpaedic Surgeon in South Africa

First Indian Woman Orthorpaedic Surgeon in South Africa
Dr Arushka Naidoo.

UKZN supervised and trained medical officer, Dr Arushka Naidoo, recently graduated through the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa as the first Indian woman Orthorpaedic Surgeon in the country.

Naidoo, during her registrar years, trained at many hospitals in the province developing a passion for public service and the country. Asked about whether she intends to go into private practice, Naidoo said: ‘Absolutely not. I love serving the community and the public sector is where I will remain.’

Naidoo, currently based at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH), hails from Reservoir Hills in Durban. She has had a long history of serving the community through her participation in the Girl Guides, Rotary Club and at Nu Shifa Hospital during her high school days.

She completed her MBChB degree through Medunsa, served an internship through King Edward VIII Hospital and completed her community service year at the Benedictine District Hospital in Nongoma where she developed an interest in orthorpaedic and general surgery. Her surgical skills were further developed while working as a Medical Officer in the Stanger Hospital.

During her tenure as a Registrar, Naidoo realised the trauma burden in the province was extremely high contributing to the heavy workloads of all medical professionals based in the public sector. Naidoo was grateful for her humble beginnings and thanked her parents and others for instilling in her the values of humility and service to humanity.

Despite working in a profession that is male dominated, Naidoo was made to feel welcome by the orthorpaedic consultants and registrars in training. ‘My colleagues have been exceptionally supportive, treated me fairly at all times and never undermined my surgical skills and capabilities.’

She also expressed her heartfelt gratitude to her mentors UKZN’s Professor Shunmugam Govender, Professor Mahomed Rassool and Professor Ismail Goga, for her success.

Naidoo enjoys travelling and has visited the United Kingdom, United States, Europe, Singapore, Mauritius, Morroco and parts of Africa. ‘Travelling is another passion of mine and it provides me with the opportunity to get some “down time”.’

Naidoo will register at UKZN for a Masters in Medicine degree in 2014, specialising in Paediatric Orthorpaedics.

-          MaryAnn Francis

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International TB Prize for CAPRISA’s Dr Kogieleum Naidoo

International TB Prize for CAPRISA’s Dr Kogieleum Naidoo
Dr Kogieleum Naidoo (right) received an award during the 44th World Conference on Lung Health.

Dr Kogieleum Naidoo of UKZN’s Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), has been awarded the Union 2013 Scientific prize in recognition of the impact of her work in international tuberculosis (TB) and HIV care.

The award was made by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease in Paris.

Naidoo is Head of the Treatment Research Programme at CAPRISA and a lead investigator in CAPRISA studies aimed at optimising treatment strategies for patients infected with both TB and HIV. Her most significant scientific contribution is the CAPRISA SAPiT trial, which served as the basis for the 2009 World Health Organization (WHO) Rapid Advice on TB-HIV treatment integration.

These findings were subsequently incorporated into the South African guidelines, the WHO international guidelines, and the US government Department of Health and Human Services guidelines for treatment of TB-HIV co-infected individuals.

Her research on immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome and rifampicin-efavirenz drug interactions has been influential in defining treatment strategies for these two common complications of integrating TB-HIV treatment.

Naidoo is the Principle Investigator of the CAPRISA 005 study on TB recurrence in TB-HIV co-infected patients successfully treated for TB. She leads a large team of researchers conducting this study, and has established collaborations and is working with immunologists, TB basic scientists, molecular epidemiologists; infectious disease physicians and public health practitioners from a range of South African and international bodies with the goal of improving the understanding of TB immunology in the context of HIV infection. 

Naidoo said: ‘I feel deeply humbled and honoured to be a recipient of this award, which I received on behalf of the amazing CAPRISA team.’

Every year, the Union - founded in 1920 - presents three awards during the World Conference to recognise contributions to TB, asthma, HIV, child lung health, tobacco control and related lung conditions. It is a highly regarded international scientific institute and a federation of more than 2 000 member organisations and individuals committed to the vision: Health solutions for the poor; technical assistance; research and education. 

-          Judith Annakie-Eriksen

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Meeting of Animal Naming Committee

Meeting of Animal Naming Committee
Members of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature and Associates at a meeting of the Commission in Singapore, with UKZN’s Professor Emeritus Denis Brothers on the far left.

The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), comprising 26 expert, voluntary commissioners from 19 different countries, attended a Special Meeting in Singapore last month.

With 21 of the 26 members present, it was the first time such a large contingent of the commission had met together in one place. Their discussions on a host of important matters will mark the way forward for the ICZN.

Professor Denis Brothers, Professor Emeritus of Entomology in the School of Life Sciences on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus, attended the meeting. He has been a Commissioner since 1996 and is the immediate Past President of the Commission. He is the second Commissioner from Africa, the first being Professor Ernest Warren, a Professor of Zoology of the Natal University College in Pietermaritzburg in the 1920s.

The ICZN, established in 1895, is the international body responsible for the management of naming animals, both living and extinct, by just two names which uniquely and succinctly distinguish species from one another. With only 1.5 million living animal species named out of an estimated eight-10 million living species, the work that the ICZN has undertaken has only grown in importance since the binomial system was introduced in 1 758 to various human enterprises.

The Commissioners manage naming by taking into account priority, prevailing usage, and other factors to help maintain nomenclatural stability to avoid confusion. This is achieved in part through publication of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, now in its 4th edition, which is authored by the ICZN. Additionally, the ICZN manages and resolves disagreements pertaining to zoological nomenclature, some which have serious implications for business, commerce, and conservation.

Votes and decisions taken by the Commission are final and binding for all biologists.

The ICZN is administered and funded by the International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature (ITZN), a UK charity established over 60 years ago which keeps the Commission’s secretariat and operations functional and oversees the publication of the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, which publishes cases, comments, and the final results of voting. In recent years, ITZN funding has been declining while the ICZN’s roles and challenges have increased as biodiversity science has gained importance due to an expanded biological community, advanced research and publishing technologies and the influence of the internet.

By late 2013, the ITZN will have effectively spent its last dollar, and no longer be able to support the ICZN secretariat. This dilemma has raised questions of how nomenclatural problems would be addressed without the authoritative presence of the ICZN.

Fortunately, two temporary solutions have presented themselves to the ICZN. First, the National University of Singapore has agreed to host the co-ordinating part of the secretariat for the next three years, significant because the ICZN offices have always been in the United States or United Kingdom and its move into Asia is an affirmation that ICZN is an international organisation. Second, the Natural History Museum in London has agreed for the next few years to administer and publish the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, the main organ for disseminating ICZN cases.

Discussions at the meeting included how a distributed ICZN secretariat could function and how current and future roles could be streamlined and made more efficient as well as less costly. This involved developing a new business plan with the National University of Singapore as well as other stakeholders using endowments as the basis for financial autonomy, revamping the operations and editorial structure of the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature and finalising discussions for its 5th edition.

It was also necessary to affirm that the online version of the Official Register of Zoological Nomenclature, ZooBank, is core business and strategising on how to make electronic publication of works and names more efficient. The implementation of a manual on The List of Available Names was discussed, which will help stabilise the nomenclature of groups of animals. The Commission also investigated how to handle “taxonomic vandals”; and how to involve the taxonomic community more in electing scientists to the Commission to expand its scope and expertise.

This landmark meeting sets the stage for how the ICZN will operate for many years to come.

-          Christine Cuénod

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Ophethe isigaba seLeisure neTourism eBDO wayengumfundi weAccounting

Ophethe isigaba seLeisure neTourism eBDO wayengumfundi weAccounting
UNksz Sally Juckes.

Ukuthuthukisa ezokungcebeleka nezokuvakasha enkampanini yesihlanu ezinkulu emhlabeni ezigcina-mabhuku kuyingxenye yomsebenzi wakhe kowayengumfundi eUKZN uNksz Sally Juckes.

Lomgcini-mabhuku, oqokwe njengoMpathi weBDO kusigaba seLeisure neTourism ngoNtulikazi, usesebenze kakhulu ekuhloleni amabhuku njengoba eseke wasebenzela iSoy Hayward yeBDO eUnited Kingdom, ibhange iBarclays Capital Investment esebenza njengeLead Audit Partner ezinkampanini ezingaphansi kweJSE, ezokungcebeleka nezokuvakasha, ezokukhiqiza kanye neTelecoms eBDO eNingizimu Afrika Inc (eThekwini).

UJuckes uthe ukufunda ukuba iCharted Accountant (CA) bekunzima kodwa imiphumela ikwenze konke kwaba inzuzo.

‘Ngiqale ukufunda iAccounting ebangeni lesikhombisa (Grade 9) esikoleni iWestville Girls’ High lapho ngathola ukuthi ngihamba phambili kulesisifundo futhi ngiyasithanda. Kwaba isinqumo esilula ukufunda kulomkhakha eNyuvesi yaKwaZulu-Natali.

‘Ukuyenza njalo into kuyasiza, ilokho engikutshela engibaqeqeshayo eBDO abasafunda izifundo zabo zeCA. Uma ukufuna ngempela, uzokwenza noma yini ukuze uphumelele ufeze namaphupho akho okuba iCA. Ukubekezela nokusebenza kanzima ikona okukuyisa empumelelweni,’ kusho uJuckes.

Usebenzisana nekomiti lezokungcebeleka nezokuvakasha elisungulwe phesheya ukuba likhulise lomkhakha kube sezingeni lomhlaba nalo nokwandisa ukuxhumana emhlabeni wonke. Lokhu kusebenza njalo kusho ukuhlela isikhathi sakho phakathi komsebenzi nomndeni.

‘Nginabantwana ababili, oneminyaka emine nonezinyanga eziyishumi nesishiyagalombili futhi kunzima ukuzama ukuthola isikhathi somndeni nomsebenzi kodwa kufanele ukwenze. Sengikubonile ukuthi abantu besifazane bangasebenza babuye babe nomndeni,’ kusho uJuckes.

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 - Thandiwe Jumo

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Writers’ Workshop on Postgraduate Diploma in Child Protection in Emergencies

Writers’ Workshop on Postgraduate Diploma in Child Protection in Emergencies
CPiE Postgraduate Diploma Writers and UKZN staff working together to assess and develop a diploma curriculum.

The School of Built Environment and Development Studies recently held a three-day writers’ curriculum development workshop for the Child Protection in Emergencies (CPiE) postgraduate diploma.

The writers have very extensive experience in humanitarian work and were from different parts of the world including India, the UK and the United States of America and have come together at UKZN to develop, complete and finalise the modules for the CPiE curriculum.

The six-module diploma programme will be taught over 18 months.  It will primarily use a distance learning delivery methodology, combined with one residential module and a work placement.

The 128 credit-point diploma programme has the following component modules:  Principles of CPiE, Theoretical Foundations in CPiE, Research Methods in CPiE, Project Planning in CPiE, Management and Co-ordination in CPiE and Service Placement in CPiE. 

According to the Course Manager of the postgraduate diploma, Mr Jeremy Grest, the rationale for the programme is to create flexible skills and capabilities which can be transferred and applied in varied contexts.

‘The writers reviewed and assessed the work to date on the individual modules. They set out ideas as to the shape of work to be done in the next phase of writing and discussed key issues relating to content, method, distance learning outcomes, assignments and even assessment for modules in the context of the programme as a whole,’ said Grest.

The workshop looked at developing an understanding of writing for distance delivery and the learning and teaching process through the distance mode. It also developed a writing and quality assurance review schedule for the teaching materials being developed.

One of the UKZN workshop participants, Dr Frances O’Brien, said, ‘I have an interest in curriculum development and to be a part of this is important for me. And it’s vital that the programme has a strong focus on the actions taken in emergencies and relaying these skills.’

The CPiE postgraduate diploma will be launched in January 2015.

-           Melissa Mungroo

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College of Humanities Hosts CPIE Gala Dinner

College of Humanities Hosts CPIE Gala Dinner
From left: Ms Hellen Nyangoya; Lead Writer, Child Protection in Emergencies, Dr Angela Raven-Roberts; Childline representative, Ms Joan Van Niekerk; DVC, Professor Cheryl Potgieter; and Professor Thokozani Xaba.

The School of Built Environment and Development Studies hosted a gala dinner for their Child Protection in Emergencies (CPiE) postgraduate diploma curriculum writers and funders.

Dean and Head of the School, Professor Thokozani Xaba, explained that despite years of capacity-building initiatives in the humanitarian and development sectors, there were currently visible gaps in field-based /vocational qualifications at entry and mid-levels. There were also no clear pathways and progression routes into the child protection sector in humanitarian settings.

‘In January 2008, a taskforce of the interagency Child Protection Working Group was established to review these capacity building efforts and analyse capacity gaps in the sector.  The taskforce identified a skills gap of mid-level Child Protection in Emergencies (CPiE) Professionals,’ said Xaba.

‘In 2012, Save the Children undertook a mapping exercise which identified 500 potential university partners for the Diploma; of these over 30 were shortlisted and five were interviewed by an interagency panel,’ he said.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal was selected as the lead academic partner, supported by the University of Indonesia and Columbia University.  A seven-member Steering Group was established composed of UNICEF, Save the Children, Terre des Hommes, the CPWG Co-ordination Cell, UKZN, University of Indonesia (UI) and Columbia University (CU).

All partners were actively involved during the set-up and planning phases of the project.  Following discussions with all partners, the key implementing actors for this project in the current phases remain: UKZN, UNICEF, the Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) co-ordination team and Save the Children.

The project is premised on an academic / practitioner partnership where the CPWG, represented by Save the Children and UNICEF, provides the field experience and expertise, while the University provides academic rigour and enables accreditation of students through a formal system. The Postgraduate Diploma in CPiE will initially be piloted at UKZN and will later be replicable by other universities.

UNICEF New York representative, Ms Hellen Nyangoya, said: ‘We’re hoping to work with lecturers of the diploma and guest lecturers as well and come up with capacity building strategies with them in 2014 in preparation for the postgraduate diploma launch in 2015.’

The Postgraduate Diploma in CPiE is a self-sustaining course. Fees have been set in line with UKZN’s fee structure.

‘Since the course has been developed to service the Child Protection sector, CPWG members are encouraged to consider subsidising the costs of participants from their own organisations and/or their partners,’ said Xaba

‘The Postgraduate Diploma in CPiE has gone through a rigorous accreditation process in South Africa and is a fully recognised qualification. Those who complete the programme will receive a Postgraduate Diploma from UKZN acceptable and recognised by CPWG members and affiliates.’

-          Melissa Mungroo

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Initiative to Help Staff Fight Drug Abuse

Initiative to Help Staff Fight Drug Abuse
RMS staff successfully completed the educators training for the truth about drugs.

The incidence of drug use and abuse on UKZN campuses is growing resulting in Risk Management Services (RMS) starting an initiative aimed to make staff better informed and proactive to counteract the scourge.

A senior staff member of RMS, Mr Heinrich Botha, attended a weekend awareness programme some weeks ago whereby valuable information and material was obtained regarding the dangers of drugs. Thereafter he was issued with an educator’s guide and has been enabled to train other staff, initially in RMS with a view to ensuring that RMS staff members will then be in a position to take and facilitate awareness across the community and on all campuses.  

Among other issues, the awareness programme training covers:

·       Interactive questionnaires

·       The need for drug education

·       Reasons for drug taking and dependence

·       Extensive related video clips of real people with real drug problems

Twelve RMS members of staff are now in a position to assist with running awareness programmes on request.

Staff and students can visit to obtain more information.  

Heinrich Botha

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Innovative and Futuristic Designs at Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering Open Day

Innovative and Futuristic Designs at Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering Open Day
Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering students at their Open Day.

Students thrilled parents and the public with high tech projects and innovative designs at the School of Engineering’s Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (EEC) annual project open day and awards function.

All students were recognised for their achievements, however the most outstanding students were awarded for their unique ideas and designs during an awards function in the foyer of the Dennis Shepstone building on the Howard College campus.

Some of the projects included a model-based video communication system; a power line inspection robot; a mobile phone controlled home appliance and a mobile panic button. Students were proud of their projects and many found it encouraging that the public had the opportunity to view some of their work.

Mr Ridwaan Amod, a fourth-year student in Electronic Engineering, said: ‘I feel it was a great opportunity to showcase innovation in engineering applications. Furthermore, I am glad to enlighten people about practical applications of such frameworks and how it can make a positive difference to their lives.’

Amod won several awards, including the Lawrence and Constance Robinson Scholarship, given to the best undergraduate at UKZN and the Townley Williams Scholarship, for the best student entering the final year of study.

He also won the Reutech Communications Award for the most innovative design implementation in Electronic Engineering and the Altron Group prize for the best final year Electronic Engineering Student.

His project dealt with the implementation of a targeted scene understanding framework. This allows a computer to track the 3D location and orientation of a target object in real-time.

-          Prashina Kallideen

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UKZN Researcher Gives Keynote Address at DUT Research Awards Ceremony

UKZN Researcher Gives Keynote Address at DUT Research Awards Ceremony
Dr Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan.

Dr Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan of the School of Education at UKZN was the guest speaker at the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) 2013 Annual Research Awards event at the Durban Country Club.

The awards are organised by the Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) ambit under the leadership of TIP’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor FAO Otieno, to acknowledge DUT scholars who are excelling in the area of research.  

In a presentation aimed at motivating young DUT researchers, Pithouse-Morgan reflected on her own experiences of how she has grown as a researcher to recently achieve the National Research Foundation (NRF) Y1 rating. An NRF Y1 rated-researcher is a young researcher who is recognised as having the potential to become a future leader in her field.

Pithouse-Morgan identified curiosity, passion and collaboration as crucial elements in developing research capacity.

The other keynote speaker was Mr Mahlubi Mabizela, Chief Director of the University Education Policy division within the Department of Higher Education and Training.


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College of Law and Management Studies Awards Ceremony

College of Law and Management Studies Awards Ceremony
Long Service awards recipients: Mr Christopher Browne, Ms Sheila Devaraj, Mr Ashwen Singh and Mr Mike Morum with Professor John Mubangizi.

The College of Law and Management Studies held its year-end function on the Westville campus recently to acknowledge and recognise staff excellence.

In recognition of their contribution to the University and the College, seven staff members were presented with long service awards while three academics were honoured for distinguished contributions to research in 2012.

In his address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of College, Professor John Mubangizi, applauded the staff for their dedication towards ensuring that the College reached its milestones resulting in the total productivity units (based on articles, books, chapters and conference proceedings) increasing by 19 percent from the 2011 output. This follows an increase of 28 percent for 2011 on the 2010 output and the number of productive academics has improved by 10 percent from 2011 and by 52 percent from 2010.

‘This is a multi-purpose celebration as we celebrate scholarship in research, the hard work and dedication shown by College leadership and the many years of hard work that some of our colleagues have dedicated to UKZN. At the beginning of the year the University Executive Management Committee decided that 2013 would be designated as the “Year of the College” and that Colleges would take ownership and adopt a culture of improving throughput, academic reputation and achieving institutional success indicators. These things don’t just happen they take the hard work of academics, College leadership and the students,’ said Mubangizi.

Mubangizi also highlighted the milestones reached by each School which have contributed to the College having a successful year, this included:

•  The Graduate School of Business & Leadership being granted full membership of the Association of African Business Schools (AABS) earlier this year. This will enable the School to share common practices in management education with other business schools on the continent.

•  The School of Management, Information Technology and Governance becoming a PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) member school thus joining the United Nations driven pact involved in the development of current and future managers.

•  The School of Accounting Economics and Finance receiving accreditation for its accounting programmes based on the outstanding quality of their professional degrees.

•  The School of Law launching its Centre for Postgraduate Legal Studies aimed at improving postgraduate enrolments and to increase research productivity and LLB student Mr Ntokozo Qwabe securing the KZN Mandela Rhodes Scholarship.

Long Service Awards were presented to Mr Christopher Browne, Mr Mike Morum and Mr Ashwen Singh in recognition of 15 years of service at the University.

Ms Sheila Devaraj, Mr Mahomed Razak and Professor Karthy Govender received an award for 25 years of service. 

Awards of Research Excellence were presented to Professor Shannon Hoctor and Ms Nicola Whitear-Nel of the School of Law and Professor Sanjana Perusamur of the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance.

The College also used the event to wish retiring staff well for their future endeavours.

-          Thandiwe Jumo

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Academic Potential of PhD Students Explored At Seminar

Academic Potential of PhD Students Explored At Seminar
GSB&L doctoral students preparing for the research seminar.

The Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) recently hosted a Seminar aimed to stimulate both the creative and intellectual aspects of doctoral students.

The workshop, facilitated capacity building in research knowledge and skills, was part of an on-going College-wide strategic commitment to “build an institutional culture of research”.

Doctoral students received guidance on how to write a good literature review, referencing, paradigms and implications for research design, moving from research questions to research design: data collection, sampling and analysis and how to prepare TURNITIN reports for research documents and reports,

GSB&L’s Academic Leader: Higher Degrees and Research Dr Elias Munapo said: ‘The seminar equipped students with the knowledge to use various research tools  including quantitative and qualitative methods, structuring the research as well as aligning research objectives and research questions to be answered throughout writings within the thesis.’

Students were also given an opportunity to share with each other their experiences of the PhD journey, best practices, challenges and coping mechanisms.

Doctoral Student, Mr Jeskinus Mukonoweshuro said he found the presentations enriching and very helpful in addressing some of the concerns he had.

‘The School has taken the right route in seeking to enhance students’ understanding of the pertinent research issues that are fundamental in taking our research projects forward,’ he said.

-          Thandiwe Jumo

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Volume of Research at UKZN at a Record High

Volume of Research at UKZN at a Record High
From left: Top Published Researcher, Professor Johannes van Staden; Professor Urmilla Bob; Top Published Female Researcher, Professor Colleen Downs and Professor Nelson Ijumba.

The volume of research completed at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) last year was the highest in the Institution’s history, according to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Professor Nelson Ijumba.

Speaking at the University’s Annual Research Awards dinner at the Maharani Hotel in Durban, Ijumba said 2012 and 2013 had been one of the most successful periods for UKZN research endeavours and thanked all the researchers for their “hard work and commitment”.

Research productivity and the number of published peer-reviewed journal articles in 2012 were 15 percent higher than in the previous year.

‘The proportion of publishing staff increased from 81 percent to 89 percent and the output by each individual from 60 to 73 productivity units.  In 2012 about 13 percent of all lecturers had PhDs and the proportion of professors with doctorates was 83 percent - an improvement from 12 percent for lecturers and 74 percent for professors in 2011.’

He also spoke about institutional initiatives such as the significant increase in the number of postdoctoral scholars, and the winning of the bid by UKZN to host the hub for the DST/NRF Centre of Indigenous Knowledge Systems

On national achievements he highlighted the increase in the number of SARChI Chairs from eight  to 11, an increase in the number of rated researchers, the Department of Science and Technology awards made to UKZN’s women researchers and the honour of having two researchers awarded the prestigious Order of the Mapungubwe.

UKZN had surpassed expectations in the international arena being listed in the four major world university rankings in 2012 and this year. It was now in the Top 400 in the Times Higher Education Listings; in the Top 500 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, in the Top 600 in the Quacquarelli Symonds rankings and UKZN had been listed as the top University in Africa in the Webometrics rankings.

‘We have restored self-belief in our researchers. In the past not everyone thought we could get to where we are now.’

He took particular pride in UKZN’s achievement in meeting transformation goals. ‘We have shattered the myth that transformation can’t go hand in hand with research excellence - we have increased the number of women, youth and Black researchers, and we need to congratulate ourselves for that.’

UKZN’s proportion of women published researchers was now 43 percent compared to 37 percent at the time of the merger in 2004 while the number of Black African researchers had increased from 8 percent to 12 percent and there were 40 percent more Black researchers, up from 32 percent.

Ijumba commended UKZN’s new initiatives such as UKZN InQubate which had made great strides in driving innovation.

Commenting on goals for the future, he said the University needed to broaden its base of academics involved in research.

Keynote speaker, Dr Gansen Pillay, Deputy CEO, RISA (Research and Innovation Support and Advancement) of the National Research Foundation of South Africa, congratulated all the researchers and highlighted some of UKZN’s great research endeavours over the last decade.

‘In the Times rankings, UKZN is in the top 400, you are ranked as the third best producing university in the country, you have 1 242 active researchers, and you were able to successfully complete the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Systems. You also increased your number of post doctorates and your publication record is exceptional - you must be congratulated for that, it comes through sheer hard work and dedication and of course the leadership that is provided by the people within the University.’

Pillay raised questions on the impact of the research produced. ‘How does it inform teaching and learning? How does it impact on poverty? Is your research an economic driver for job creation? I raise these questions because we need to infuse excellence with relevance - how does research help society?’

A highlight of the evening was the launch of the 2012 Research Report by the Dean of Research, Professor Urmilla Bob. ‘We as UKZN are one of the research led universities in South Africa and embrace as well as promote transformation, African scholarship and relevance,’ said Bob, who described the  Research Report as a ‘celebration and a documentation of the research achievement of the research community at UKZN’.

Several researchers received national and international awards in recognition of their contributions to research.

The Director of the Research Centre for Plant Growth and Development, Professor Johannes van Staden was recognised as UKZN’s Top Published Researcher in 2012 while biologist and terrestrial vertebrate specialist Professor Colleen Downs was the most Published Woman Researcher.

Downs received the award for the fifth consecutive year and van Staden, for the fourth time.

The 2012 UKZN Fellows were Professor Peter Dankelmann of Mathematical Sciences, Professor Sreekantha Jonnalagadda of Chemistry and Professor Gerald Ortmann of Agricultural Sciences and Agribusiness.

The 2012 Fellows of the South African Academy of Engineers were Professor Nelson Ijumba and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Innovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath.

Also acknowledged were the 2011 book prize winners, the recent DST Women in Science award winners and UKZN’s Top 30 published researchers.

-           Sejal Desai

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Farewell to Three UKZN Executive Members

Farewell to Three UKZN Executive Members
From left: Professor Malegapuru Makgoba; Mrs Phumla Mnganga; Professor Jane Meyerowitz; Professor Nelson Ijumba and Mr Charles Poole.

The University bid a fond farewell to three members of its Executive Management during the year-end Council dinner on the Westville campus this week.

Retiring this year are the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) of Research, Professor Nelson Ijumba; the Registrar, Professor Jane Meyerowitz, and the Executive Director: Physical Planning and Operations, Mr Charles Poole.

In a talk titled: “In my Father’s Footsteps”, UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, said the current Executive Management had been the best he had ever worked with.

Makgoba said they were focused in the vision and mission of the University, were passionate about things that needed to be done, and were experts in their own areas.

He also spoke on the achievements of each of the trio and highlighted contributions they had made to the success of UKZN.

Makgoba said Ijumba had been the most successful DVC Research because he had worked hard, contributed his best and was a team player.  The experience that Ijumba had gained through the process of the merger would stand him in good stead as he moves on to his new position of Senior DVC at the University of Rwanda.

Recognising her especially for her organisational skills and efficiency, Makgoba said Meyerowitz was the “best Registrar” around and commended her for bringing in systems of compliance of policies and efficiency in her work which were right in line with one of UKZN’s strategic goals: Efficient and Effective Management.

Makgoba said he would remember Poole for managing to slim down a complex portfolio into its current status.  Poole had come into a difficult position and grappled successfully with the operations of the portfolio. He would also remember him for being honest about this work and voicing his concerns.

In her welcome, Chair of Council, Mrs Phumla Mnganga, acknowledged the presence of the former Chair of Council, Mr Mac Mia, and retired Constitutional Court Judge, Mr Justice Zak Yacoob.

Mnganga thanked the University leadership for their contribution and recognised them for the work achieved during the year.

-          Sithembile Shabangu

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UKZN Fellows of Academy of Engineers

UKZN Fellows of Academy of Engineers
Professors Nelson Ijumba and Deresh Ramjugernath.

UKZN Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Professor Nelson Ijumba, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Innovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, have been inducted as Fellows of the South African Academy of Engineers (SAAE).

Ijumba was inducted at a ceremony in Cape Town and Ramjugernath was inducted in Pretoria.

An excerpt taken from the SAAE website gives an indication of the prestige attached to being made a Fellow of the Academy which currently boasts 163 Fellows:

‘The objectives of the Academy are to promote excellence in the science and application of engineering for the benefit of all members of the public in South Africa. The Academy comprises South Africa’s most eminent engineers of all disciplines and related professionals with proven ability and achievement. It is able to take advantage of their wealth of knowledge and experience which, with the interdisciplinary character of the membership, provides a unique source with which to meet the objectives.’

Only nine engineers have been inducted to the Academy this year.

Details of the South African Academy of Engineers can be found at

- UKZNDABAonline

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It’s all in the Stars!

It’s all in the Stars!
Dr Cynthia Chiang.

“Astrophysics from Antarctica”, was the title of a public talk given by Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Dr Cynthia Chiang.

Chiang’s research focuses on exploring the history of the universe through fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the “afterglow” of the Big Bang. She specialises in building millimetre-wavelength telescopes and analysing data, and her past research projects include a wide variety of ground, balloon and satellite-based telescopes.

Cosmology is an exciting area of research which addresses some of humanity’s oldest questions which include: How did the universe begin? What is it made of? and What is its ultimate fate? To answer some of these questions, Chiang has travelled to some of the most remote corners of the earth in order to work on telescopes that have access to the clearest skies for CMB observations.

One such expedition included an entire impressive winter spent at the South Pole Telescope (SPT), a period in which the station is completely isolated and in total darkness. Chiang described some of the microwave telescopes that she helped to build and operate from Antarctica, which is one of the best observing sites in the world. She further discussed some of the challenges and rare aspects of daily Antarctic life. 

Chiang has worked on several telescopes that aim to measure the temperature and polarisation fluctuations in the CMB with improved sensitivity, allowing researchers to tightly constrain the physics of the early universe. One of Chiang’s current goals is to test the theory of inflation, a period directly after the Big Bang during which the size of the universe is theorized to have increased one-hundred trillion, trillion times in roughly a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second.

One prediction of inflation is the existence of a gravitational wave background that imparts a unique imprint on the CMB by introducing a minuscule “curl” pattern in the polarisation. The detection of the curl pattern would provide powerful confirmation of the inflationary theory and would try to revolutionise our understanding of the universe.

Chiang is currently working on an experiment titled the SPIDER which is designed to measure CMB polarisation with the goal of detecting the curl signature from inflation.

SPIDER is a balloon-borne instrument that will launch from McMurdo Station in Antarctica at the end of 2013 and will circumnavigate the continent in a 20-30 day flight. The instrument consists of six independent telescopes bundled into a drum-shaped vessel that holds 1 000 litres of liquid helium for cooling the cameras. The multiple telescopes not only achieve high sensitivity, but they also provide redundancy for internal consistency checks.

Said Chiang: ‘UKZN has a strong presence in CMB data analysis. I hope that by teaming up with the CMB researchers at UKZN, I can provide opportunities for students to not only learn how to build instruments but to also use that hardware knowledge to become more effective data analysts. In addition, I am eager to work with the UKZN researchers to join the engineering and commissioning efforts for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project that will see South Africa in the spotlight for future years.’

The Director of the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit, Professor Sunil Maharaj, said: ‘Dr Chiang’s presentation was excellent. She gave a unique insight into the science experiments taking place in Antarctica and the pictures of the landscape were stunning. She provided detailed explanation of problems experienced by scientists in this unique environment.’

The public talk was followed by an extraordinary night sky viewing.

-          Leena Rajpal

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Agricultural Economists Meet the Mark

Agricultural Economists Meet the Mark
Ms Grany Senyolo, UKZN Agricultural Economics Lecturer.

Agricultural Economics Lecturer and PhD Student Ms Grany Senyolo attended the 3rd International Conference on Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS) in Accra, Ghana, in September 2013 where she and two other UKZN postgraduate students, as well as one post-doctoral researcher, presented a selection of their PhD research results in poster and oral presentations.

Senyolo presented her poster on the topic of indigenous leafy vegetables which are regarded as “poor man’s food” by some and are also the subject of recent research in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The value of the research being accomplished by the Agricultural Economics Discipline as a whole was also recognised at the 2013 national Conference of the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA) held at Bela Bela in Limpopo Province.

Professor Gerald Ortmann, Dr Lloyd Baiyegunhi, Senyolo and six postgraduate students presented papers.

Two Agricultural Economics students won awards - Mr Stanley Sharaunga, supervised by Dr Edilegnaw Wale and Dr Maxwell Mudhara, won the second best Masters thesis award while PhD student, Mr Majola Mabuza, won second prize in the best paper award category. This paper was co-authored by Dr M Sithole from the HSRC, and staff members Dr Edilegnaw Wale, Ortmann and Mr Mark Darroch.

These achievements reinforce the fact that the Agricultural Economics Discipline at UKZN, which has regularly won awards at national level, is producing quality research and graduates.

-          Christine Cuénod

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UKZN Marine Science Students on the Crest at Bi-annual WIOMSA Symposium

UKZN Marine Science Students on the Crest at Bi-annual WIOMSA Symposium
Two mile Reef in Sodwana Bay, home to 130-odd coral species, is a focal point for UKZN Marine research.

Postgraduate students from the Marine Sciences Department attended the 8th (Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association) WIOMSA Scientific Symposium held in Maputo, Mozambique.

The UKZN team comprised 11 MSc and PhD students, presenting work on marine science topics from population genetics to community ecology and ecosystem food web modelling.

The theme for this year’s event was: “Science and Society: Building Partnerships for Action”.

Three students:  Ms Kaylee Smit, Ms Jessica Escobar Porras and Mr Phanor Montoya presented their work orally, while the remainder of the team did poster presentations. The research presented by the UKZN students received significant interest and generated healthy debate.

Students had the opportunity to network with academia and students from Africa, Europe, and North America, and were also able to view the broader scope of marine science currently being done in the Western Indian Ocean.

As it was the first time many of the students had been at an international conference, the general mood was initially one of nervousness. Nevertheless, the welcoming and constructive criticism by members of the symposium was encouraging. 

The highlight of the trip was four UKZN posters making it into the top 10 chosen from almost 300 presentations. UKZN’s Mr Ryan Van Rooyen won the best poster award with his entry titled: “Genetic and Morphological Variation of the Assimineids (Mollusca: Caenogastropopoda: Rissoidea) of the St Lucia Estuary, South Africa”.

UKZN Marine Biologist Dr Angus MacDonald thanked the School of Life Sciences together with WIOMSA for funding the trip. ‘It has truly been an exciting and an educational experience for us all,’ he said.

-          Angus MacDonald

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Nomination for Best Paper Award at ER 2013

Nomination for Best Paper Award at ER 2013
Dr Maria Keet.

Dr Maria Keet, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, received a nomination for the Best Paper Award at the 32nd International Conference on Conceptual Modelling (ER 2013) in Hong Kong.

Keet is the first author of the paper co-authored with Professor Pablo Fillottrani of the Universidad Nacional del Sur in Argentina, and one of three to be nominated for the award following an extremely selective peer-review process as well as being published in the Springer LNCS conference proceedings series.

Keet attended the Conference and presented their nominated paper titled: “An Ontology-Driven Unifying Metamodel for UML Class Diagrams, EER, and ORM2”, which presents the main step toward comprehensively formalising these conceptual modelling languages. Keet and Fillottrani have obtained these results as part of the DST/NRF-funded bi-lateral research project between South Africa and Argentina, of which Keet is the PI on the South African side.

Conceptual modelling deals with the abstract description of concepts and their relationship in the realm of domains to facilitate the development of software applications. Keet’s research has provided valuable results examining logic-based reconstructions of the conceptual data modelling languages, and this recognition of her work into conceptual modelling is a great achievement for the School of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science.

Speaking of her experience, Keet expressed pleasure in having had the opportunity to ‘meet like-minded colleagues and to meet some of the luminaries in the field, including the person who invented the very notion of a “conceptual data model” in 1976, Peter Chen’.

The nomination of this paper at such a major Conference has also raised the possibility of ER 2015 or ER 2016 being held in South Africa, which would be a major advance for researchers in the field of conceptual modelling in this country.

-          UKZNDABAonline

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Mechanical Engineering Students Dazzle at Open Day

Mechanical Engineering Students Dazzle at Open Day
Passion and compassion collide with Group Six’s prosthetic arm.

A prosthetic arm, a solar-powered car, an automated beer brewing machine and an aerospace propulsion test-stand were among exhibits on display at this year’s Mechanical Engineering Open Day, held at the School of Engineering building on the Howard College campus.

The day provided an opportunity for final-year Mechanical Engineering students to exhibit the results achieved during their 2013 projects.

The public, the media and members of the University fraternity attended with engineering students on hand to showcase their projects and provide further information on them.

The event culminated in a prize-giving ceremony that rewarded excellence across five categories.

The best presentation for Category One projects (costing more than R15 000) went to Group 8 for their aerospace propulsion stand. Developed by Mr Udil Balmogim, Mr Sundeep Singh and Mr Donald Fitzgerald, the stand included miniature gas turbine, propeller and pulsejet engines.

Performance data was also on display indicating the engine thrust, fuel flow rate, temperatures, engine pressures and rotational speeds.

Group Six’s prosthetic arm won the best presentation among Category 2 projects (costing less than R15 000). Mr Preyen Perumall, Mr Ngema Simangaliso and Mr Zaheer Dimala developed the biologically inspired prosthetic for John Harris, who lost both his hands when he was electrocuted by 33kV power lines. The arm possesses individual finger motion and wrist rotation, to allow the user to perform normal daily activities and pick up objects.

Mr Akshay Maharaj, Mr Cameron Pittman and Mr David Black (Group 11) were the runners-up in this category with their automated CMYK painting machine. The machine mixes primary colours into a single colour, selected through a software interface.

The prize for best industrial potential went to Group 18 for their eco-friendly, solar heated collapsible hut. Mr Jared Mackrory, Mr Shevendra Mathura, Mr Sean Richards and Ms Teagan Butterworth built a scale model of a hut which can be easily dismantled, transported and assembled. The hut also made use of a solar panel for energy, was made of eco-friendly materials and insulated against rain and cold. This hut would be of great use to researchers who spend lengthy periods in harsh weather conditions.     

The Autodesk Prize, awarded for the best Engineering research content, went to Group 19 for their automated beer brewing machine. Created by Mr Angula Johannes, Mr Andrew Illidge and Mr Ryan Dreyer, this machine automates each stage of the beer brewing process. This includes: milling, mixing, measuring, filtration, heating, fermentation, cooling and bottling.

Lastly, final-year students were allowed to determine the winner of the Peer Prize, sponsored by Pitchline Engineering and awarded to the hardest working group. The prize went to Group 19 and their automated beer brewing machine.

The research, hard work and passion on display were a clear indication of how UKZN continues to inspire greatness among its students.

-          Sashlin Girraj

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Classics Student Wins Whiteley Prize

Classics Student Wins Whiteley Prize
Sim Whiteley prize-winner in Classics, Ms Claire Brown.

Classics student Ms Claire Brown has been awarded the Sim Whiteley prize for hard work and dedication in her study of Latin.

The prize is awarded to a student proceeding to second-year in Classics who is adjudged to have gained the best results in a Classics course (preferably one of the languages) at first-year level.

This award is in honour of Professor Sim Whiteley, a former member of the teaching staff of the Classics Discipline, who is remembered for his humanity, his profound knowledge of Classics, and as a benefactor of the Classics Discipline. He made several grants to Classics over a period of time to enable it to purchase books and other requirements which the allocated budget could not provide.

‘The prize means so much to me because I love Classics and it’s rewarding to know I’m good at what I love, it makes all the studying and hard work worthwhile,’ said Brown.

‘The prize money is also great because it’s intended to be used for books. I’m an avid reader but with the price of books so high, I usually have to borrow them from a library or friends.

‘Now that I have a good allowance for books I can buy the ones that I think are helpful or that I think I’ll want to read over and over throughout my life. Professor John Hilton encouraged me to start a personal library but I had already started collecting books years ago,’ said Brown.

Brown had initially signed up for the first two modules in Classics as she’d always had an interest in ancient culture. ‘I’m especially fascinated by mythology. At first I couldn’t believe that you can get a degree in something that has always seemed like fun to me. Then once I started those modules I fell in love with Classics and eventually changed my English and Media Studies majors to English and Classical Civilisations, and then went on to take my Honours in Classics.

‘I think the reason I perform so well in Classics is because I still see it as something enjoyable and the homework readings are things that I might have looked up in my own time for leisure reading. In Latin, we translate the actual works of ancient authors; how many people can say they’ve read Cicero in his original words?’ explained Brown.

She is also grateful for the support received from all the academic staff and her family and advised other students to attend lectures, have work prepared ahead of class and ask lots of questions.

Claire plans on studying for a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) next year and thereafter pursue a career in book editing. ‘I hope to eventually work for one of my favourite book publishing companies.

I’ll have teaching to fall back on if I don’t enjoy editing, or I might switch to teaching when I have children one day and want to have a similar schedule to them. But I think my passion lies in books and editing,’ she said.

-          Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN’s Year-End Recital Hailed as a Grand Affair

UKZN’s Year-End Recital Hailed as a Grand Affair
UKZN’s Opera Studio and Choral Academy senior students who performed at their Opera year-end recital event at the Jubilee Hall.

The School of Arts, Music Discipline at UKZN recently held its Opera year-end recital event at the Jubilee Hall which saw many avid Opera lovers attend. The senior students of the Discipline performed with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Naum Rousine with renowned storyteller Ms Gcina Mhlope as the Emcee.

‘This is a great platform and encourages our students to work harder,’ said Mr Lionel Mkhwanazi, a Voice Lecturer at UKZN’s Opera Studio and Choral Academy. Mkhwanazi is also a celebrated Tenor opera voice and has won several accolades.

He further added, ‘Ikhwezi- as we call this event- highlights the aim of the event. Ikhwezi is a morning star, that shines bright introducing the day, and it’s known as a star that leads you home.’

He also pointed out that the 2013 year-end recital programme is crafted to create a platform to showcase students to the industry, the private sector, government and the media with such events proving to encourage versatility, collaborations and mentorship.

Mr Andrew Warburton, Acting Director and Academic Adviser at The Opera Studio and Choral Academy, pointed out that the students sung exciting arias from opera with these performances also being examined as part of the students’ final recitals in voice performance.

‘The renowned icon Mbongeni Ngema whose song Stimela Sasezola became and still is part of the psyche of a broader South Africa and made a guest appearance with his song Stimela Sasezola that was orchestrated by one of our students, Mr Siphesihle Manana,’ said Warburton.

Twenty four-year-old Manana, from Fairview in eMpangeni, Northern KwaZulu-Natal, is working towards his Master’s degree in composition under the mentorship of Professor Jurgen Brauninger.

Manana said: ‘It was such an honour yet also a nerve wrecking experience to work with the great KZNPO on a song that belongs to an internationally acclaimed creator and producer of great productions such as Woza Albert, Asinamali, Sarafina, Lion of the East and many more.’

Professor Brauninger said: ‘It was a special evening for everyone, especially our students, being accompanied by the world renowned KZN Philharmonic Orchestra. Performing a great South African composition like Stimela Sasezola, songs that still mean and holds lots of memories for a greater part of South Africa can only bring the orchestra even closer to the hearts of all people of South Africa, and a great showcase for our senior students.’ 

He also highlighted that the UKZN Music Discipline has produced some of the country’s well-known artists today such as Professor Bronwen Forbay, Lukhanyo Moyakhe, Lauren Dasappa Harris, Nozuko Teto, Edward Phiri, Dr Mageshen Naidoo, Concord Nkabinde, Guy Buttery, Dr Sazi Dlamini, Andile Yenana, Feya Faku, Marc Duby, Victor Masondo, the late Zim Ngqawana and Black Coffee, who studied at UKZN and have made their mark nationally and internationally.

-          Melissa Mungroo

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Labour, Migration and Marriage Through the Microscope of Micro-Data

Labour, Migration and Marriage Through the Microscope of Micro-Data
Professor Dorrit Posel with the College of Humanities Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.

Professor Dorrit (Dori) Posel of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) recently gave her Inaugural Lecture at the Howard College Theatre on “Labour, Migration and Marriage through the Microscope of Micro-data”.

‘It has been 20 years since the first nationally representative household survey was conducted in South Africa. There are now more than 50 micro-datasets available which provide detailed information on the characteristics of individuals in South Africa, the households in which they live, the work that they do, and the income that they receive and spend,’ said Posel.

In her Lecture, Posel explored how the availability and richness of micro-data (data about individual units, and typically individuals) have changed the scope of economics in South Africa, drawing examples from her own research on labour markets, migration and marriage.

National micro-data are used to describe and analyse the socio-economic and demographic characteristics and the behaviour of people living in South Africa. The data are also used to explore how characteristics and behaviour in South Africa have changed over time - for example, in response to changes in macro-economic conditions, or in economic and social policy.

‘The richness of the micro-data which are collected has also made it possible to explore questions not typically associated with economics. In turn, economics has become far more inter-disciplinary, drawing from and contributing to, a range of other disciplines, including development studies, demography, evolutionary biology, sociology, psychology, geography, politics, history, anthropology and linguistics.’

As examples, Posel explained that in her own research, she had used micro-data to test for evidence of kin-based altruism, to understand differences in levels of happiness, and happiness gaps within couples specifically, and to explore racial differences in the willingness to trust in South Africa.

One of the areas explored in her Lecture that garnered much interest from the audience, was the interaction between the labour market and the marriage market, where she explored the male marital earnings premium as an example.

‘A very well-documented finding from a wide range of countries is that men who are married earn substantially more than men who are otherwise identical but are not married. There are two main explanations for why this premium should exist. The first is the “productivity hypothesis”, which suggests that marriage makes men more productive, and because they are more productive, married men earn more.

‘The alternative explanation, known as the “selection hypothesis”, reverses the causality: it is not that marriage makes men earn more; rather it’s that men who earn more are more likely to marry - which is why we observe married men as having higher earnings on average than never-married men.’

Posel’s research revealed evidence of a sizeable marital earnings premium in South Africa particularly among African men, a premium which her research suggests derives primarily from the selection of higher-earning men into marriage.

Posel's research on labour, migration and marriage using micro-data has resulted in many collaborative research projects over the years. She concluded her Lecture, noting that:

Since 1993, with the introduction of the first nationally representative household survey, the scope of economics in South Africa has broadened considerably, and economists have travelled along a dynamic, diverse and often also steep road.

‘I have found this journey to be highly stimulating, but it would not have been possible, and certainly not as rewarding without the support, collegiality and input from the many colleagues and students with whom I have worked.’

-          Melissa Mungroo

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Librarian of the Year Returns After Visit to Trinity College in Ireland

Librarian of the Year Returns After Visit to Trinity College in Ireland
Ms Nellie Somers in the Long Room of Dublin’s Trinity College Library.

KwaZulu-Natal’s Librarian of the Year for 2012, Ms Nellie Somers, recently returned from a short visit to the Preservation and Conservation Department at the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland.

The visit was made possible through prize money - sponsored by EBSCO Information – Somers won when she was named runner-up in the National Librarian of the Year award.

Somers is the Senior Library Information Officer at the Killie Campbell Africana Library, a collection which comprises books, manuscripts and photographs covering an extensive range of historical information about the south east African region and its population.

In her capacity as Collections Preservation Monitor of the Library, Somers visited the Trinity College Library in Dublin in order to gain insight into the methods used for the preservation of important records in the Preservation Conservation Department.

‘It was an interesting behind-the-scenes tour of the preservation conservation practices in the Long Room of the Trinity College Library,’ said Somers. ‘It was fascinating to see the research projects currently being investigated by the Library, such as the investigation into the significance of book structures, analysis of pigments and ink on parchment and manuscripts, and the study of library dust.

Of particular interest to Somers were: the care, handling and storage of rare collections, the technique of cleaning the collections using micro-filtered vacuum cleaning systems and micro-fibre cloths, the basic technique of using cotton tape to secure loose covers and the method of writing a disaster preparedness plan for archives and special collections. Ms Somers also took careful note of the equipment used for monitoring and measuring temperature and relative humidity as well as specific techniques used for setting up displays and exhibitions.

Somers was involved in a community outreach project held on Nelson Mandela’s birthday where a total of 600 library books were distributed to several schools in Durban, highlighting her passion for literacy, learning and the sharing of information.

-          Christine Cuénod

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8th Annual Cultural Calabash Works a Treat

8th Annual Cultural Calabash Works a Treat
Ms Slindile Khumalo with students performing the Isishiyameni dance.

As African Rhythm Calls, Let Us Respond in Unity - this was the theme of the 8th Annual Cultural Calabash, which celebrates both the country’s diversity and unity by presenting a spectrum of traditional African music and dance.

The event, at the Howard College, showcased performing artists from both UKZN and the broader community. It was organised as part of the service learning training by the African Music and Dance (AMD) students in their third level of study in the African Music Outreach: Community Development module in the School of Arts.

Co-ordinator of the AMD programme, Dr Patricia Opondo, said: ‘It is with great pride that we see students take up the onerous responsibilities in organising such an event which provides them with skills to become event managers and festival co-ordinators in the fields of public sector ethnomusicology and public folklore.  The theme for this year’s Calabash is indeed a clarion call for us to look to our roots and - while we celebrate our heritage - to be united in spirit.’

Artists who performed at the event included: Ovula (Maskandi band), Iziqhaza (Afro-jazz duo), Umthamutamu (Umkhomazi dance group), Feel Africa (Mbira from Zimbabwe), Afro-gong (percussion from Mozambique), Mzomborico (Kwaito artist), Slindile Khumalo (Isishiyameni AMD students) and Ubuciko the Art (Music poetry interlude).

Ms Slindile Khumalo, a third-year AMD student in African Music, was also part of the event where she showcased her talent in a Zulu dance style called Isishiyameni. The repertoire was inspired by her motto in her music career of: People should not forget where they came from, whether they are in a new environment such as a university or away from home. Their roots are important in moulding them into what they are.’

Popular African food which consists of different African dishes such as Inhloko (Cow head meat), Isitambu (Samp) and many other dishes were served at the event.

AMD student Mr Nhlakanipho Ngcobo said: ‘The Cultural Calabash is a great platform for upcoming artists to be celebrated, given a chance to share their talents in a wide spectrum and to give hope to rural-based artists so that their work will be seen by a wider audience.’

-           Melissa Mungroo

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Italian Professionals Meet at Medical School

Italian Professionals Meet at Medical School
API President Ms Federica Bellusci (centre) with some of the International and local delegates as well as consular representatives at the Conference.

The Association of Italian Professionals (API) held its 12th International Conference at UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine campus.

The theme of the Conference was: “Finis Terrae Finis Mundi: the Apocalypse in Italian Literature”, which was hosted by Italian Studies at UKZN.

Papers were delivered by delegates from local universities as well as from the Italian Universities of Padua, Trento and the La Sapienza (Rome), Cork College in Ireland and Banja Luka in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Various apocalyptic interpretations were presented ranging from the writings of Consolo, Eco, Corona, Sciascia, Santacroce and Nuruddin Farah to the apocalypse/genesis in the Italian language.

Professor Rosemary Wildsmith, Head of the former School of Languages, Literature and Linguistics, opened the Conference emphasising the challenges language departments were facing in South African universities today.

Wildsmith said in a changing South Africa it was important for language departments to rise to the occasion and seek new avenues in teaching.

Ms Federica Bellusci, President of API and a Lecturer at UKZN, thanked the Italian government, represented by Dr Paolo Bonissone of the Italian Embassy, for its unwavering support of Italian Studies at UKZN.

‘It is thanks to continuous funding that the Conference was made possible, not only enabling research in the areas of Italian language and literature, but also renewing collaboration between Italian departments at a global level.

At the close of the Conference, the delegates were entertained by the talented UKZN Opera students of the Opera Studio and Choral Academy.

-          Federica Bellusci

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Putting the "I" into HIV

Putting the
Panelists light a candle in remembrance.

UKZN’s College of Health Sciences together with its partners CAPRISA, K-RITH, Health Systems Trust, HEARD and the National Health Laboratory Services hosted a panel discussion on the theme: “Putting the ‘I’ into HIV– New Approaches in Developing Person-Centred Interventions to Fight the Epidemic”.

Ahead of World AIDS Day 2013, leading HIV/AIDS researchers in Durban have urged society to focus on insights, innovation and integrity in the journey into an HIV-free future – and to put people at the centre of health services.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and College Head, Professor Rob Slotow, introduced the panel of speakers as individuals who had led significant contributions to HIV science which had been translated into national and international health policy.  This new knowledge had enabled health leadership, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, to mobilise the roll-back of HIV.

Focusing on sexual transmission of HIV as the key driver of infection, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Head of CAPRISA and President of the Medical Research Council of South Africa, said over the last three years, there had been an explosion of research evidence compiled on HIV prevention using antiretroviral drugs such as prophylaxis. The evidence has changed the global approach to HIV prevention methods and offered real hope for reducing levels of incidence.’

Professor Alan Whiteside of the Health Economics and AIDS Research Division (HEARD) emphasised the financial burden of not curbing new HIV infections. ‘Along with the tragic spread of illness and loss, the financial challenge of treating the 12.3 percent of South Africa’s population who are HIV-positive is considerable,’ he said.

‘The cost of drug supplies and staff will compromise the health budget in some other area. ARVs have preventative effects, but we cannot treat our way out of AIDS.  On our current health funding, we can’t afford to follow the established guidelines for treatment. Overseas donor aid is diminishing; we can’t increase our domestic resources, so we must spend them more efficiently.’

Responding to these points, audience members called for the establishment of a local drug industry that could produce medicines for a broad range of infectious and non-communicable illnesses, questioned the standards of primary health care service delivery, and raised the issue of more radical programmes for behaviour change prevention messaging.

Abdool Karim confirmed that much could be reduced and saved through cost-effective models of care that should not compromise clinical outcomes.  ‘Right now, we are not managing our resources well and corruption eats into our supply chains.  South Africa should be making its own ARV active ingredients – this would be a rate-limiting element in the cost of drug manufacturing and supply, cut out the importation costs in foreign exchange, and create local jobs.  Necessity drives innovation, and because of the sheer need to address HIV-related problems, we’re now doing things differently for a number of diseases such as TB, asthma, hypertension and diabetes – we have home-based and point-of-care testing, as well as task-shifting to optimise our health worker capacity.’

On behaviour change, Abdool Karim noted that smoking has been successfully addressed by structural driver adjustments such as raising the cost of cigarettes and prohibiting smoking in public areas, along with public education on the dangers of smoking. More studies are needed on behaviour change solutions for HIV prevention that focus on structural drivers – one example being a cash incentive for staying HIV-negative.

The panelists and audience agreed that gender violence and discrimination, particularly in relation to the vulnerability of young women to HIV infection, had to be confronted in concrete ways.

Whiteside argued that HIV has become over-medicalised: ‘We shouldn’t need all these drugs, because people shouldn’t be getting infected. We need a social compact, so that people’s right to treatment, care and support are balanced by their responsibility to respect each other, practise safe sex and adhere to treatment regimes.’

Speaking on the prospects of a viable HIV vaccine, Professor Thumbi Ndung’u of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB and HIV (K-RITH) said that although research had not yet yielded a vaccine solution eligible for licensing, there was evidence that a vaccine was possible. Animal studies were working on vectors that could produce immune system responses with 50 percent protection rates. Antibodies from HIV-positive patients were being tested to block the virus in uninfected subjects while computational biologists were creating sequence diversity to corner off the virus and its pathways, providing no escape from the body’s immune response.

‘An HIV vaccine is an enormous challenge,’ said Ndung’u. ‘The virus is a formidable enemy: even in one infected person, it swarms around the body, replicating in the key structures of the immune system, and there is no known natural cure.’

Asked whether it was feasible to pursue an HIV vaccine in the context of funding shortages, Ndung’u argued that we first had to invest in a deeper understanding of the human immune system. ‘In 1935, no-one believed that a polio vaccine would work, but scientists persisted and eventually triumphed.  We are doomed as a society if we don’t keep trying to know more.’

HIV genetic analysis and molecular evolution was presented by Professor Tulio de Oliveira, a researcher in genomics at the Wellcome Trust’s Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies.  Using HIV genetic data and bioinformatics to examine the epidemiological patterns of HIV transmission, more can be understood about the direction of infection, which helps to guide treatment interventions.

‘We can also study drug resistance more closely with these techniques and characterise how the disease is spreading,’ said de Oliveira. ‘This work will be of significant benefit for South Africa’s generalised epidemic as rural communities are highly vulnerable.  Rather than drive more stigma into the disease by terrifying people with harsh prevention messages, we should find out more about the linkages between and characteristics of transmission agents and targets.  For instance, who is infecting young women?’

Dr Themba Moeti, CEO of Health Systems Trust, reminded the gathering that the real benefits of new discoveries accrue to patients and communities at the end of a long process of translating the findings into policy and practice.  ‘Access to the interventions and services is only possible and impactful once they are taken to scale,’ said Moete. ‘So beyond the essential biomedical tools and political will needed to advance this, we need the commitment and involvement of citizens themselves.

‘While the choices made by leadership have changed the path of the epidemic, people must be placed at the centre of change, Human behaviour will determine long-term prevention and the eventual elimination of HIV as a major public health challenge,’ said Moeti. ‘There are many forms and aspects of the epidemic across the different types of individuals who are part of it, so social and behavioural research is crucial now.’

Moeti added that with the co-epidemic of HIV and TB still ranking as the highest cause of death, communities needed to prioritise massive investment in health systems strengthening.  People are living longer with HIV and will succumb to non-communicable illnesses, and we have to ensure that all these diseases can be managed efficiently.’

Closing the seminar, Slotow noted there had been clear recognition of the role of young, emerging researchers leading innovative responses to HIV and AIDS.  He said the discussion had compellingly drawn the roles of science and society together:  It is people – with our insights, activism, behaviour and responses – that will take all the science forward to create an AIDS-free future.’

-          Judith King

Photograph: Roy Reed

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