Citrus Research Institute to be UKZN Friend of Agriculture

Citrus Research Institute to be UKZN Friend of Agriculture
From left: Mr Justin Chadwick; Professor Albert Modi; Ms Jacomien de Klerk and Professor Gerald Ortmann.

Representatives from the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environment Sciences (SAEES) recently met officials from the Citrus Research Institute (CRI) to discuss strengthening the research efforts of the School.

SAEES was represented by the Dean and Head of the School, Professor Albert Modi, and an Academic Leader for the Value Adding Cluster, Professor Gerald Ortman, and the CRI’s Mr Justin Chadwick and Ms Jacomien de Klerk.

The CRI officials said the Institute could offer SAEES the following opportunities:

•  Bursaries for MSc and PhD students. A total of 15 new bursaries were on offer and students could apply online by visiting the CRI website,

•  A graduate placement programme for students funded by the Institute

•  assistance with industry exposure for undergraduate and postgraduate students

•  a business management programme to assist students.

Both CRI and SAEES agreed the current challenges of the citrus black spot disease had the potential to cost the South African citrus industry billions of rands and also force people previously employed by the industry to move into cities to seek work.

There was a commitment from both sides to establish a forum as part of the UKZN Friends of Agriculture. The forum would examine topical and relevant challenges of research and rural economic development and assist the University curriculum and research to address the needs of the industry and farmers.

It was agreed the forum needed to target emerging farmers.

-          Albert Modi



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Career Guidance Initiative at Rural School

Career Guidance Initiative at Rural School
Students from the Fund’induku Secondary School during a career guidance workshop.

UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg branch of the Nazareth Tertiary Students Association (NaTeSA) held a meeting at which career guidance was prioritised in its 2013 Programme of Action.

NaTeSA member Ms Nokulunga Nxumalo identified the Fund’induku Secondary School in Tafelkop as being in great need of assistance.

Nxumalo said pupils at the rural school lacked academic motivation and career guidance plus it needed advanced learning tools and resources. Very few of its students proceed to tertiary study after completing matric.

NaTeSA Career Officer Mr Mncedisi Mazibuko initiated the training event with UKZN student counselling staff on the Pietermaritzburg campus: Ms Shelley Barnsley, Ms Rossella Meusel, and Mr Sanele Zuma, all from the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

About 15 individuals took part in facilitating the career guidance and planning workshop.  

Students were provided with invaluable information about career guidance and planning.

The event was a success with NaTeSA team members giving interesting presentations which were useful for the school and learners growth in terms of understanding the necessity of career guidance and planning.

 -  Barrington Marais


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info4africa Launches New Website

info4africa Launches New Website
info4africa Database and Quality Assurance Manager, Mrs Ann Jack and Data Collector, Ms Thuli Mchunu show off their new website.

info4africa, a self-funded Centre of the School of Applied Human Sciences and a specialist data collection agency focusing on health, wellbeing and development in South Africa, recently launched its revamped website.

Director of info4africa, Mrs Debbie Heustice, said: ‘Over the past year we have significantly expanded our services and are currently engaged in data collection projects for a variety of local, national and international agencies. In line with this expansion, info4africa’s new website outlines the wide range of programmes and partnerships we are involved in.’

These included the National Referral Database and Provincial Directory Series; Other Database Projects; Networking Forums, including a full listing of presentations, speakers and information on upcoming events, and a vibrant Culture and Arts Programme.

info4africa’s Annual Report 2012 can be accessed via the new website. The report details the organisation’s 2012 successes and outlines their transition from the Centre for HIV/AIDS Networking/HIV-911 into info4africa. 

info4africa staffer Ms Mapekula Yandisa said: ‘The website is great, it contains lots of information and the other links work out perfectly.’

The new info4africa website was designed and developed by info4africa’s technology partner, Always Active Technologies (AAT). Specialising in Mobile and Mapping Solutions, AAT also provides mobile technology solutions to info4africa. 

Business Development Manager at Always Active Technologies, Mr Alan Haarhoff, said: ‘Extending our involvement with info4africa from USSD and Mobi through to their new website is simply a privilege for us. This is because we believe that the best services in the digital age are a blend of human passion and great technology.  By creating a responsive designed website (supported on PCs, tablets and smart phones) for info4africa we hope we are doing our bit to help them keep making a difference in people’s lives.’

Community Grants Co-Ordinator at the United States Consulate in Durban, Ms Joslyn Walker, added: ‘The ease of navigation through the site and its simple, clean layout belies a complex organisation and multitude of services that are offered by info4africa. The layout is crisp and clear, loads quickly (even on mobile) and is user friendly.

‘Being able to access the database, especially so easily from a mobile device, means that even when I am in the field and working from the back of my car I can access information and data on service providers, clinics, NGOs and other partner organisations which can support HIV care and support for community based organisations.'  

‘This is a huge benefit to my work as a grant maker and as a support to the CBOs that often do not know how to access this information,’ said Walker.

-          Melissa Mungroo


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Mobile Phones get Young South Africans Reading

Mobile Phones get Young South Africans Reading
Published in isiZulu, 'Beer, Songs and Quarrels' is available on the FunDza mobi site.

New Readers Publishers (NRP) based at the Centre for Adult Education and the FunDza Literacy Trust are getting young South Africans reading on their mobile phones.

FunDza has a mobi site, linked to a popular portal on the instant messaging service and social network, Mxit, which is introducing young folk to relevant and exciting fiction and non-fiction works.

NRP answered FunDza’s call for assistance to widen the amount of content available in the mobile portal and has provided a number of stories – in English and other languages – to FunDza readers.

‘It is a reality that many people have access to cell phones and few have access to libraries or books,’ said NRP Project Manager, Ms Sonya Keyser. ‘We want people to be able to read some of our stories, free of charge, on their cell phone. This is a way to spark a love of reading.’

FunDza Managing Trustee, Ms Mignon Hardie, says the aim is to grow demand for reading by commissioning and showcasing content which speaks to the lives and experiences of young people, specifically those from poor communities without easy access to books and libraries.

‘FunDza’s mobi network is a mini-library for those on the move. It also contains new, specially commissioned fiction written by some of South Africa’s top teen and young adult writers,' said Hardie.

‘This mini library is growing all the time. A new story is released each Friday and is serialised over the course of a week, meaning readers can log on each day and find a new chapter. This serialisation is helping to get readers hooked. The chapters are short and gripping – often ending on a cliff-hanger which has readers hankering for more.’

While the majority of FunDza’s content is in English, the organisation recognises the need for exciting, local content in indigenous languages.

‘We are adding more NRP isiZulu stories, along with their English equivalents,’ said Keyser.

-          Melissa Mungroo


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Social Work Students Organise Career Information Day

Social Work Students Organise Career Information Day
Professor Cheryl Potgieter (back row centre) with UKZN Social Work students, Austerville community members and the youth.

As part of her social work practical requirements, UKZN student Ms Nokwanda Ndlovu and four colleagues organised a career information day for young student leaders and out of school youngsters in the Austerville area. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter gave an inspiring motivational talk in which she reflected on her life experiences and encouraged young people to set goals, to be focused and to work hard. 

Former SRC President Mr Siyabonga Nkontwana, said there were several funding options for students requiring finance.

Two community leaders, Chairperson of the Local Social Services Co-ordination Committee (the ‘war-room’) Pastor Earl Wilkinson, and Mrs Patricia Dove of the Women of Wentworth organisation, also supported the function and assured the youth that the community was proud of them and would support them.

In her evaluation, one of the participants wrote: ‘This helped me a lot and inspired me to work hard.’  Another said: ‘We should have more things like this because it helps change the way we think about things.’

Armed with CAO booklets and applications forms, the Austerville youth undertook to encourage their peers to consider further study at tertiary level. 

‘Working in Austerville for four months under the auspices of UKZN Community Outreach and Research has been a wonderful experience,’ said Ndlovu.

-          Melissa Mungroo


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American Students Visit UKZN on a Study-Abroad Internship

American Students Visit UKZN on a Study-Abroad Internship
Professor John Pollock of the United States and his students on a hike in the Drakensberg.

A group of American students from the College of New Jersey in the United States visited UKZN during their three-week stay in South Africa as part of a faculty-led study abroad internship.

The internship leader who is on the Faculty in the Communication Studies Department at the College, Professor John Pollock, said the health communications course explored the use of entertainment to educate.

‘We are very interested in particular in entertainment education because South Africans use TV, radio, sound, dance etc to fight gender violence, poverty and AIDS.’

Pollock was invited by Professor Keyan Tomaselli of UKZN’s Centre for Culture, Media, and Society after meeting him four years ago at a conference in Mexico City. Pollock visited Durban for the first time during a world communication studies conference hosted by Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli in July last year.

‘The Tomaselli’s are world famous of course, and I also just fell in love with this area,’ said Pollock.

KwaZulu-Natal was also of particular interest because of its position as the epicentre of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa.

Highlights of the trip included a visit to Ekwanzini and Zwelihle schools in Umlazi where the students acted out different scenarios and interacted with the learners. The US visitors were struck by the magnificent a cappella singing of the young high school students.

The students visited a hospice and Mahatma Gandhi’s Phoenix Settlement and also went bungee jumping at Moses Mabhida Stadium, toured a game reserve at Hluhluwe, went hiking in the Drakensberg, ziplined at Lake Eland, dived in a shark tank at uShaka, viewed crocodiles and pythons in Valley of a Thousand Hills, and surfed.

The extremes in living conditions struck the students as odd. They saw “people living in two million dollar houses and others living in tin shacks”.

‘We felt safe,’ said one student, ‘even though we heard that crime was a major problem in South Africa.’

Pollock plans to bring another student group to UKZN in June next year.

-          Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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Farmers Support Group at Msinga Arbor Day

Farmers Support Group at Msinga Arbor Day
Members of the Gudwini Indigenous Forest Rehabilitation Group.

The Farmers Support Group (FSG), in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Gudwini Indigenous Forest Rehabilitation Group in Msinga, recently joined forces to organise an Arbor Day event.

The event - integrated into the Spring Day celebrations held at Macingwana Secondary School - was planned to celebrate the importance of indigenous trees as well as to raise awareness about the sustainable use of natural resources in the area.

FSG is implementing the Stimulating Community Initiatives in Sustainable Land Management (SCI-SLM) centered around identifying innovative forms of combatting desertification within local communities.

SCI-SLM is a community-led initiative which focuses on land, water and plant resources in these communities to enable community members to demonstrate their capacity to create internal solutions to address land degradation.

‘Such events are important to FSG, because viable and feasible interventions that capacitate the communities to manage their natural resources in a sustainable manner are needed for their livelihoods and survival,’ said Ms Zanele Shezi, Project Facilitator at FSG. ‘Interventions should empower and encourage community members to have a say and put sustainable resource management into practice.’

-          Zanele Shezi


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UKZN Researcher to Present Paper in Chile

UKZN Researcher to Present Paper in Chile
Sugarcane researcher, Dr Elliosha Hajari, working in the lab.

Dr Elliosha Hajari, a UKZN Post-doctoral Researcher, has been awarded a partial scholarship from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) to present an oral paper at the International Symposium on the Nitrogen Nutrition of Plants in Chile later this year.

The ICGEB is an organisation dedicated to the advancement of research and training in molecular biology and biotechnology. It foregrounds science and technology intensive solutions as a means to improve the quality of life of people across the globe.

‘I am extremely excited about attending the conference. I am eager to present my work to an international audience and to get their feedback. I am even more thrilled at the opportunity to learn more about this field,’ said Hajari regarding the conference in Chile.

The overall scope of Hajari’s research, which she is conducting under the supervision of UKZN’s Professor Paula Watt and Dr Sandy Snyman of the South African Sugarcane Research Institute, relates to sugarcane biotechnology and aims to reduce nitrogen fertiliser application.

‘At present, large amounts of fertiliser are applied to sugarcane but a large proportion is not used by the crop. This is costly for farmers and excess fertiliser causes environmental damage,’ said Hajari.

‘Therefore, efforts need to be focused towards identifying and/or developing sugarcane varieties that use applied fertilisers more efficiently. Currently, my research involves investigating how nitrogen – in the form of nitrate and ammonium – is taken up and used by sugarcane plants in the in vitro system.’

Presently, sugarcane varieties are classified in terms of their nitrogen use efficiency based on pot and field trials which are resource, labour and time intensive. An in vitro system, as is being investigated by Hajari, would have the advantages of screening many genotypes quickly, in a small space in the laboratory, and under controlled conditions.

Limited work has been done on nitrogen uptake kinetics in sugarcane and Hajari hopes to fill this gap through her research. ‘I believe that it is important to have a fundamental understanding of a system before applied work can be undertaken and I hope that my work will play a role towards understanding this,’ she said.

Hajari completed both her undergrad and postgraduate degrees at UKZN and has worked under the supervision and guidance of a number of notable academics including Professor Paula Watt, Professor Pat Berjak and Professor Norman Pammenter.

Hajari has continually excelled and received her MSc cum laude. She published her first academic paper from her MSc and a further two academic papers were published from her PhD thesis.

‘I really enjoy the work that I do and gain great satisfaction from it simply because it interests me. I think that if you are involved in scientific research, it is essential to have an enquiring mind,’ says Hajari.

Hajari admits to being a workaholic, but finds balance through family and a number of activities which include reading and a decent amount of retail therapy!

 -Barrington Marais


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UKZN and all that Jazz!

UKZN and all that Jazz!
UKZN Music students and high school learners at the SAJE Jazz Festival.

The School of Arts at UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular music hosted the South African Association for Jazz Education (SAJE) festival.

The three-day event featured free workshops, CD launches, music collaborations and concerts which were open to the public and were attended by several local schools and teachers.

Speaking at the event Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, said: ‘UKZN supports the mission of the SAJE which is to assure the growth of jazz in South Africa and the development of jazz and jazz education across the country.’

Potgieter added that the mission statement of the SAJE "fits like the proverbial hand in a glove with the vision of UKZN".

UKZN music students were ecstatic to be given the opportunity to attend the festival and the free Jazz workshops which included practical ideas about how to develop jazz in schools, and how to include it in the school music curriculum.

Vocal workshops presented by Amanda Tiffin (UCT) and Deborah Tanguy (France) taught students what to prepare for at vocal jazz auditions at tertiary institutions; while Nicky Schrire’s workshop focused on “breaking out of one’s comfort zone/taking musical risks”.

The Russ Miller (USA) workshop looked at developing ensemble focus, concept and musical-improvisational interaction, plus stylistic performance practice concepts with combos, pianists and vocalists.

UKZN Music students Mr Kwena Ramahuta, Ms Ayanda Thango and Mr Sebastian Goldswain said UKZN Music staff were very supportive and had encouraged them to attend the Jazz festival and to make the most of it.

‘This festival is really great because we are being exposed to world class musicians and we’re getting to listen to the different types of music and to learn from them,’ said Ramahuta.

‘This festival is also showcasing the talent of the music students. The lecturers have been very accommodating and they have integrated all that the festival offers into our normal lecture schedules,’ said Goldswain.

-          Melissa Mungroo


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First isiZulu John Langalibalele (Mafukuzela) Dube Memorial Lecture

First isiZulu John Langalibalele (Mafukuzela) Dube Memorial Lecture
Professor Cheryl Potgieter (third right); Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo (centre) and Dr Velaphi Mkhize (second left) with College of Humanities staff.

The College of Humanities, the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC), and the JL Dube Chair in Rural Education in the School of Education presented the 10th Annual Memorial John Langalibalele (Mafukuzela) Dube Lecture in isiZulu - a first for UKZN with simulteneous English translations being provided.

Academics, students and prominent guests, including the MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal,

Dr Sibongiseni Maxwell Dhlomo, were welcomed warmly by Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.

The Lecture, delivered by the President and founder of the Umsamo Institute and South African Healers Association, Dr Velaphi (VVO) Mkhize,  was titled: “Mafukuzela and the Remedy for the Zulu Language: Sharing the Riches of the Language in Tertiary Institutions”.

Speaking at the Lecture, Mkhize said: ‘The protection of our indigenous languages is of urgent importance. IsiZulu is a cultural pillar and to protect, it determines  who we are. By protecting the language, we are also protecting our traditions and historical treasures. Because of the diminishing importance of indigenous languages, we are at risk of losing out on the verbal transfer of knowledge from generation to generation. This will impact negatively on isiZulu culture, if it is left uncontrolled.’

He pointed out that the advancement of the indigenous languages required hard work. ‘Let us be frank, we need to launch research projects in the Humanities in isiZulu, make research documents available in isiZulu, and cultivate and nurture the language. UKZN has taken a decisive step in this direction. Some have voiced critique but have since changed their views. We are happy that UKZN has embarked on this project over a period of time already and ignored the criticisms and complaints.’

Mkhize suggested that future generations should have the right to share in the riches of their indigenous languages. Funds should be set aside for research projects in isiZulu, and young people should be encouraged to do research in the indigenous languages. In addition, government, legal, and other significant institutional documents, should be translated into African languages.

Reflecting on the introduction of isiZulu in undergraduate degrees, he said: ‘The University has taken a step that each student, irrespective of the field of study, should learn the isiZulu language; that is an achievement. I say this is an achievement because this means that students will get a chance to learn to use IsiZulu within each of their disciplines.

‘He said choosing isiZulu reflected the enthusiasm and support of the academic community for future academics and intellectuals to know their background and their roots. This would impact positively on their sense of identity as well as international relationships.’

In closing, Mkhize said, ‘Preserving the language for the next generation is in our hands; us doctors and professors. This needs a lot of courage and commitment under challenging circumstances. Tertiary institutions, chancellors and their respective committees, should not only focus on how to improve research but also look at how the local languages could be developed intellectually.’

-          Melissa Mungroo


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Abafundisi base UKZN Babhale Isigaba Encwadini Ekhuluma Ngokukhangisa Nge-SMS

Abafundisi base UKZN Babhale Isigaba Encwadini Ekhuluma Ngokukhangisa Nge-SMS
UDkt Ziska Fields (kwesobunxele) kanye noDkt Pepukayi Chitakunye.

Ukudingeka kwendlela engcono yokukhangisa kubantu abaningi kosomabhizinisi abancane ikona okwenze uDkt Ziska Fields noDkt Pepukayi Chitakunye, abafundisi beSikole seManagement, Information Technology and Governance (MIG), babheke indima edlalwa ukukhangisa ngeSMS kulomnotho osafufusa waseNingizimu Afrika.

Ucwaningo lushicilelwe encwadini ebizwa SMS Marketing which features in the recently released book Marketing in the Cyber Era - Strategies and Emerging Trends ehlanganisa izindlela ezihamba phambili nezintsha zokukhangisa emnothweni wanamhlanje.

UFields uyi-Academic Leader aphinde afundise kuManagement and Entrepreneurship kanti uChitakunye uyi-Senior Lecturer emkhakheni ofanayo.

Isigaba sabo esibheka ukubaluleka kokukhangisa ngeSMS kumabhizinisi amancane (amaSMEs)eNingizimu Afrika, iqonde ukuveza inzuzo ngokukhangisa ngeSMS kwamaSMEs kumnotho osafufusa.

‘Sibheke ezindaweni zokukhangisa ezahlukene, ucwaningo kanye nama-report avela kuhulumeni aveza ukuthi amaSMEs angazuza kanjani ngokukhangisa ngeSMS,’ kusho uFields. ‘Sabuya sathola izindlela ezahlukene khona sizoqonda kahle ubudlelwano  phakathi kokukhangisa ngeSMS namabhizinisi amancane eNingizimu Africa.’

Ucwaningo luveza ukuthi kubalulekile ukuthi amaSME anikeze abasebenzi babo ngamakhono akahle ukuze bazame ezinye izinto ezintsha ezenzekayo kwezocwepheshe. Kodwa kuveze nokuthi kuningo okusamele kucwaningwe ekukhangiseni ngama SMS nokuthi abathengi bakwamukela kanjani ukuthola lemiyalezo engacelwanga.

‘Uma ubheka ukwanda kokuthengwa kwezinto ezinobuchwepheshe obusha, amaSME kufanele abheke izindlela abangafinyelela ngazo kubathengi njengama SMS, ngoba lokhu kuzonyusa isithunzi sabo,’ kusho uChitakunye.

‘Kulokhu kukhangisa ngamaSMS kukhona abathengi abanobuchwepheshe bokukwazi ukubuka, babuye banikeze abanye ulwazi besebenzisa i-internet namathuluzi anobuchwepheshe obungconywana.’

UFields noChitakunye babuye babhala isigaba ngezindlela zocwaningo abasalinde impendulo kubahleli.

UFields okuyimanje usebenza ekubhaleni isicelo sencwadi ebheka i-Entrepreneurial creativity and innovation in emerging markets kanti uChitakunye usebenza encwadini ethinta abesifazane iWomen entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Uma udinga olunye ulwazi ngencwadi vakashela: http://www.igi-global.com/book/marketing-cyber-era/78919

Click here for English version

-          Thandiwe Jumo


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UKZN Masters Student Excels at Choir Conducting

UKZN Masters Student Excels at Choir Conducting
Mr Bhekani Buthelezi.

The University of Zululand’s Choir - led by UKZN Choral Studies Masters student, Mr Bhekani Buthelezi (32) – was placed third at the prestigious 36th Old Mutual National Choir Festival.

Buthelezi, who specialises in Choral Conducting, said he grew up in rural Ulundi and never dreamed he would enjoy the success he has.

‘I’ve loved choral from a young age and I am still extremely passionate about it. I have a supportive family and they told me that if this is what I wanted to do it was a risk worth taking.’

Buthelezi says the Old Mutual festival is the biggest choir competition in the country.

‘We started participating last year and came fourth. This year we finished third overall. It was like winning the lotto. We’ve been building towards this for the past 10 years.’

He attributes his and the Choir’s success to the support given to them by UKZN’s Lecturer in Choral Studies, Mr Phelelani Mnomiya, and his supervisor, Dr David Smith. He said both academics believe in the totality and holistic development of a conductor

‘Mr Mnomiya is inspirational and very wise. I’ve learnt a lot from him. We were also honoured by Dr David Smith’s support. He is very wise and passionate about choral music, has worked with so many choirs and understands choral music and what we go through. He’s the one that encouraged me to keep on with choral music. So I’m very grateful to them both,’ said Buthelezi.

He also thanked the University of Zululand, especially Vice-Chancellor, Professor Fikile Mazibuko.

‘The Choir is going back next year and we’re hoping to come away as champions. I’m looking forward to developing the choir and others.’

-          UKZNdabaOnlineTeam

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Building a Research Profile - Tips and Tales from an Expert

Building a Research Profile - Tips and Tales from an Expert
Professor Deresh Ramjugernath.

Seasoned UKZN researcher Professor Deresh Ramjugernath spoke to staff and postgraduate students at the College of Health Sciences on how to build an impressive research profile.

Ramjugernath (41), who was recently appointed into the new position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor: Innovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship, is also the DST/NRF South African Research Chair for Fluorine Process Engineering and Separation Technology, and Director of UKZN’s Thermodynamics Research Unit.

He leads a team of postgraduate students and researchers which is generally regarded as one of the leading research teams in its field globally. The group undertakes cutting-edge research which contributes towards chemical process development and optimisation in South Africa and abroad.

A pre-eminent scientist in the field of chemical engineering and specifically in thermodynamics, Ramjugernath became a full Professor aged 31. He said achieving his full professorship at that young age was the result of ‘having a passion and a drive coupled with a reasonable intellect to achieve’.

Ramjugernath said modern universities needed to make a major impact on society and that had been the motivation for UKZN to create his new position. The post would entail packaging products that UKZN produces for commercial use to benefit the country. In this way, the University as an institution of higher learning, would be able to assess the impact it was making on society rather than just publishing research to comply with performance management goals or for the sake of publishing.

He said research should uplift the lives of all South Africans. ‘True sustainable growth and social upliftment in South Africa are only possible by moving our economy to a knowledge-based one. This we can achieve by generating high quality research and the application of commercialisation of intellectual property which is the key to moving us to a knowledge economy.’

He encouraged the audience to examine their own reasons for pursuing research. ‘Research must be your passion. Being a researcher is not a job but a calling…something that doesn’t keep office hours. Your success depends on having this mindset. At an early age develop a plan of what you hope to achieve in your career over the next five, 10 and 15 years. Lastly, pursue your plan with strong self-belief and determination.’

Ramjugernath encouraged the audience to promote a research culture in their environment and to use every opportunity during teaching to incorporate research into the programme. ‘Create the passion, research must be exciting.’

He said he was happy that the College of Health Sciences provided a platform for young researchers to share their passion for research through its annual College Research Symposium.

‘A successful researcher is one with an unwavering total belief in their abilities, who is self-motivated with the capacity to rebound after failure. They must also have the determination to succeed, multi-task and make things happen, make personal sacrifices and most importantly have passion, passion and more passion.’

* Ramjugernath has published more than 350 papers, five chapters in books and developed five patents. He has also graduated over 75 masters and PhD students and is currently supervising or co-supervising more than 30 postgraduate and post-doctoral students. Ramjugernath is passionate about human capacity development and is a strong believer in a collaborative approach to research capacity development. In this regard he has had a number of research bi-lateral agreements for the exchange and the training of students and researchers with research groups based in many countries, including Germany, the United States of America, Canada, Sweden, United Kingdom, Poland, France, and the Czech Republic. He has also received several national and international awards.

- MaryAnn Francis


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UKZN Presents Memory Studies Symposium

UKZN Presents Memory Studies Symposium
Professors Sabine Marschall (second right) and Philippe Denis (back third left) with School of Education staff members at the Symposium.

As part of an initiative in a proposal for the introduction of an interdisciplinary postgraduate programme in the emerging academic field of Memory Studies, Professor Sabine Marschall, Professor Philippe Denis and Ms Nokhaya Makiwane hosted a Memory Studies Symposium at the UKZN Innovation Centre.

The Symposium provided an important platform which brought together staff, students and interested external parties who share a research interest in the field.

‘We wanted to get to know each other, exchange information and learn more about each other’s research,’ said Marschall of the School of Social Sciences. ‘We also wanted to expand our knowledge of the field itself and its variety of theoretical and methodological approaches, facilitate collaborations among colleagues and possibly with external parties and to be inspired.’

The Symposium was divided into four categories with researchers presenting papers linked with themes such as Constructing Memories, Memory and Trauma and Memories of Apartheid.

‘There has always been interest in memory in the academia. A Sociologist by the name of Maurice Halbwachs wrote on collective memory in the 1940s for instance. Specialists of literary studies have looked at the way memory shapes literary work. Historians and anthropologists base their work on the memories of their informants.’

‘Psychologists, neurologists and psychiatrists look at how memory works in the brain.  But it was only in the 1980s and 1990s that Memory Studies emerged as a separate field of study.  It is eminently interdisciplinary. The purpose of the Symposium was to create a platform where specialists of various disciplines can exchange views on memory,’ said Denis.

From the School of Education, Professor Michael Samuel looked at: Beyond Narcissism and Hero-Worshipping: Narrative Inquiry and Life History Research as Theoretical and Methodological Tool in Education.  Ms Sagree Govender and Professor Reshma Sookrajh focused on: Theorising the Lived Experiences of Indian Diasporic Academic Women: Stoic Arborescence or Rupturing Rhizomes?

Also presenting were Ms Naretha Pretorius of the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity; Mr Nyasha Mboti of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society; Mr Clifford Madondo and  Mr Philani Dlamini  of the Sinomlando Centre for Oral History and Memory Work in Africa; Mr Malcolm Draper of the School of  Social Sciences; Mr Alain Tschudin of the Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies Programme, Professor Jonathan Draper of the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, and Ms Anne Bruzas of the Hero Books Project.

The papers presented at the Symposium will be published in a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal with Denis and Marschall as Guest Editors.

-          Melissa Mungroo


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UKZN Academic Joins Relief Mission in Syria

UKZN Academic Joins Relief Mission in Syria
Young men of Darkoush in Syria where UKZN’s Professor Frederick Veldman was involved in relief work.

Head of the Discipline of Dietetics at UKZN, Professor Frederick Veldman, recently returned from a relief mission to war-torn Syria with the Gift of the Givers Foundation – the largest non-governmental disaster relief organisation of African origin.

March this year marked the second anniversary of the pervading and devastating civil war in Syria.

Veldman was part of a relief team working from the town of Darkoush about 30km inland from the Turkish border and within rebel-held territory.

The tense and arduous political situation in the region has seen medical and relief care becoming increasingly problematic for those affected by the ongoing violence and unrest to access. The availability of food and access to even the most basic level of health care have been scarce and often unavailable in many parts of the country.    

Veldman has not only been actively involved in field-relief but has also partnered with the Gift of the Givers Foundation in scientifically investigating the food supplement, Sibusiso, which the NGO began using in 2004.

Sibusiso, on which no pervasive scientific research has been done in terms of its nutritional impact, is currently being used extensively in several African countries as an effective supplement for managing conditions in which nutrition is a key factor, such as HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. 

Two UKZN Masters Students in Dietetics have completed extensive research on Sibusiso, and their research findings are currently being published.

Veldman, who has also done relief work in Somalia, said: ‘Unfortunately, it is the people on the ground who suffer most. They have no food or medical care and there is a tangible sense of hopelessness everywhere,’.

Lasting just under two weeks, the relief mission was cut short by the intensified war situation in the country. ‘There were bombs going off within close proximity of where we were stationed and as the situation dramatically worsened we had to leave,’ explained Veldman.

Besides providing expertise in terms of his scientific knowledge, Veldman has vowed to continue in his relief work and to speak openly in terms of the situations in Syria in an effort to draw awareness to the circumstances of the people there.

*Veldman recently spoke on the Syrian crisis on the SABC television show An Nur, where Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, Founder of the Gift of the Givers Foundation, also shared his views on the state of affairs in the region. 

     - Barrington Marais


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Architecture Students Seek New Heights

Architecture Students Seek New Heights
First year Architecture students at UKZN design and construct miniature hot air balloons as part of their Theory of Structures 1 course.

First year Architecture students at UKZN had great fun when, as part of their Theory of Structures 1 course, they were assigned to design and construct miniature hot air balloons or sky lanterns as they are more formally known.

Not only did the balloons have to be functional but they also had to be beautiful. Maximizing interior volume while minimizing envelope weight and at the same time creating something attractive proved a real challenge for the students.

When the big day arrived, balloons were initially marked on their aesthetic appeal.  However, the big question on everyone’s minds was: Would they fly?

The obligatory clearance was obtained from Air Traffic Control at King Shaka International Airport and the moment of truth arrived.

Unfortunately, most designs succumbed to the seduction of art, the desire for beauty making them too heavy to fly. Of the 25 or so teams, four managed to get their craft airborne, and when they went they really soared – high into the sky until they were only dots (good thing we contacted King Shaka).

A great exercise in learning not only about strength to weight ratio in structures but also that oh-so-important link between beauty and functionality that every architect must grapple with!

-          Bill Williams


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UKZN Robot Research to be Showcased in New Zealand

UKZN Robot Research to be Showcased in New Zealand
Mr Trevor Lorimer (left) and Mr Timothy Rowell with the robott they developed.

UKZN research which helped develop a robot to assist in the maintenance and repair of high voltage electricity transmission lines is to be showcased in New Zealand this year.

The School of Engineering’s Mr Trevor Lorimer and Mr Timothy Rowell, who both completed their MSc degrees in the complex field of mechatronics last year under the expert supervision of Professor Edward Boje, created a robot that moves on high voltage transmission lines. The robot is capable of sending video images of the line from four cameras to a station on the ground where the cables can be analysed for faults or degradation.

Lorimer and Rowell will attend the Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE) Symposia in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Symposia provides an exciting international opportunity for this innovative research to be showcased. ‘Attending such events is an ideal way to position one’s self against the international standards of the field,’ said Lorimer. ‘Preparing for such an opportunity requires the utmost dedication and hard work - it is one not to be missed.’

Themed: "Best Practice in Transmission and Distribution in a Changing Environment", part of the Symposia’s proceedings involve various demonstration days being set aside which will see Lorimer and Rowell in action as one of three demonstrations showcasing new technology in remote inspection.

After performing an exhaustive literary survey, the robot developed by the two scientists has been identified as possibly one of only two such in existence capable of climbing jumper cables.

Adding to the ground-breaking nature of the project the robot is believed to be the lightest one of its kind in the world, weighing 20 kg, very different from others which weigh up to 100kg. ‘This gives us a big advantage when we need to deploy, because we do not need heavy equipment such as helicopters to lift it onto the line. Furthermore, during traversal of a power line, it can reach a speed of about 1 m/s (3.6 km/h),’ said Rowell.

Their MSc projects were partially funded under Eskom’s Tertiary Education Support Programme (TESP). Following the success of their MSc research, it was proposed by Boje that further work with regard to the project be undertaken at UKZN which is now contracted to develop the second prototype robot with Lorimer and Rowell spearheading the project.

The technologically innovative contribution to power line robotics of this research is undeniable and will serve to establish both UKZN and South Africa as leaders in terms of robotics research and development internationally, and possibly also contribute to growing the field in South Africa.

-          Barrington Marais


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UKZN Launches Gift Store

UKZN Launches Gift Store
Mr Len Mzimela puts his palm print on the wall.

UKZN recently launched the official corporate gifts and branded items store, University Gifts & Brands (UGB), on the Howard College campus.

The event was popular with people filling the shop in a scramble to buy items. Staff had the opportunity to put their palm prints on the wall in different paint colours.

Officially opening the store and cutting the ribbon, Director of University Relations and Marketing, Mr Len Mzimela said: ‘This store is an addition to the great service and products offering that Mr Haffajee has offered to the UKZN community for the past years. While the two shops are separate entities, they offer a similar service to the University community.

‘This shop can source any product at very competitive prices, you call Monique and she travels to your offices.’

Branded items sold in the store range from specialist gifts, conference branded resources, male and female- cut T-shirts, trendy book bags, corporate shirts, jogging suits and separates, iPad cases, cappuccino mugs, umbrellas, toiletries, tracksuits, bags, pens, branded gift wrapping paper and more.

‘This shop allows the University community to secure goods branded to their specifications and delivered to their offices wherever they are on the various campuses. The shop is located where the FNB branch used to be on the Howard College campus,’ said Mzimela.

For more information on operating hours and payment procedures, kindly email Monique or Prenisha at conferencing@ukzn.ac.za or call on 031 260 2726/1604.

-       Sithembile Shabangu


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European Delegation Shares Education Challenges With UKZN

European Delegation Shares Education Challenges With UKZN
Members of the EU Delegation that recently visited UKZN.

A European Union (EU) delegation recently visited UKZN on a mission to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by the education sector in South Africa.

The delegation was led by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture, Mr Harold Hartung, who said he was amazed to discover how similar situations were in various countries.

Hartung was accompanied by Mr Richard Young, Head of Development Cooperation; Mr Christophe Larose, Head of Section: Social Sectors and Governance, and Dr Berene Kramer, Higher Education Programme Officer.

The delegation also examined at current EU-SA cooperation in this sector and possibilities for future co-operation.

In welcoming the delegation Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Innovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, outlined some of the challenges including that of previously disadvantaged youth who are first time school goers and tertiary students in their families. 

Ramjugernath also spoke on the progress made by the University in terms of transformation as UKZN was currently the “most transformed University in the country”.

Hartung said challenges included having teachers who were not equipped for languages and cultural problems brought by immigration, an increased high school dropout rate, an increase in the number of people going into Higher Education, and ensuring graduates were equipped and matched the needs of the market.

He added that education included ensuring graduates succeeded in their social and personal life.

UKZN’s Dean of Research, Professor Urmilla Bob, said South Africa had become a training ground for students from other African countries, adding that 50 percent of postgraduate students were African.

Discussions also revolved around the Erasmus + which is the EU’s new programme for education, youth training and sport for the period 2014-2020.  It will offer a number of opportunities for Higher Education students, researchers, staff and institutions from across the world.  All these opportunities are funded by the European Union.

The delegation visited different research centres including K-Rith and Ukulinga Farm.

-       Sithembile Shabangu


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Sign Language DVD Launched

Sign Language DVD  Launched
VN Naik School for the Deaf students discussing the technical aspects of the DVD with UKZN staff Mr Mike Morum and Mr Ashwen Singh.

Improving communication between deaf or hard of hearing children and their parents is the goal of a recently released South African Sign Language DVD.

The DVD which was a collaborative project between UKZN’s School of Management and Information Technology’s Department of Information Systems and the VN Naik School for the Deaf.

The DVD was launched at the School’s 30th Anniversary Celebrations where UKZN Alumnus and KwaZulu-Natal Blind and Deaf Society President, Mr Justice Zakeria (Zak) Yacoob, was the guest of honour.

The thematically designed, menu-driven DVD uses images, video and audio to add illustrative reference to an item being communicated through sign language. 

Information Systems and Technology Technical Support staff Mr Ashwen Singh and Mr Mike Morum, who developed the visual technology aspect of the DVD, said seeing the world through a deaf or hard of hearing person’s eyes was an enriching experience.

‘I believe the advancement of technical resources is a step in the right direction for teaching and learning and I look forward to more projects such as this one in the future.’

Morum added that the School of MIG welcomed more opportunities to enhance teaching and learning in the country through collaboration between the School and the education sector.

In his address, Justice Yacoob commended the VN Naik School for its efforts towards ensuring that deaf and hard of hearing children play a role in society.

‘Our objective is that hard of hearing and deaf people are inspired to achieve and live the best possible lives. Education by itself is not enough therefore we must explore all avenues to empower the pupils of this school to achieve something in society,’ said Yacoob.

VN Naik Principal Mr TM Govender applauded UKZN staff for their contributions and offered them an opportunity to collaborate with the School again on other tertiary level programmes they plan to develop.

-       Thandiwe Jumo


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UKZN Women Taught To Defend Themselves

UKZN Women Taught To Defend Themselves
Participants at the Westville self-defense class with the instructors.

About 45.6 percent of women in Africa experienced physical and sexual violence, compared to 35 percent globally, according to a recent report by the South African Medical Research Council.

With this in mind and to empower UKZN women with defence skills, Human Resources in collaboration with Sports Sciences presented a self-defence class on all four University campuses.

The aim of the class was to provide women with the necessary tools to ‘maintain personal safety and to successfully confront and survive potentially dangerous situations’ such as rape, domestic violence and physical abuse.

Employee Wellness Co-ordinator, Miss Lungile Ntombela, said the classes also intended to empower, inform and provide UKZN women with the means to take ownership of their wellbeing.

Instructors demonstrated seven basic steps of self-defence to be used in different violent situations. Among other things, staff were taught to defend themselves from being attacked from the front and the back and to avoid being hit in the face.

Participants were also shown ways to escape situations that might seem impossible, and what areas they could target on an attacker’s body.

Participants were grateful for the class and many asked for it to become a permanent feature held during lunch breaks or after hours.

Ntombela said she was pleased with the turnout and would consider running the classes on an on-going basis. 

-        Sithembile Shabangu


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College of Health Sciences Driving Research Agenda Globally

College of Health Sciences Driving Research Agenda Globally
Ms Jessica Paken receives her award from Professor Rob Slotow, while College Dean of Research, Professor Moses Chimbari, looks on.

UKZN’s College of Health Sciences recently held its Annual Research Symposium at which it introduced its newly appointed fractional and full research Professors from around the globe.

Consisting of two plenaries, three parallel tracks and about 80 presentations, the college reaffirmed its ideology of being research-driven; significantly contributing to shaping global health policies.

Presenters included postgraduate students and staff who have undertaken cutting edge research in their respective fields. The plenary addresses were presented by UKZN’s Professor Deresh Ramjugernath and the University of Zimbabwe’s Dr Felicity Gumbo.

UKZN’s Medical Education Partnership Initiative also presented on its many successes since the project was initiated at UKZN. A highlight of the symposium was the introduction of the full and fractional research Professors employed to drive the research agenda of the college through international collaboration.

The full Professors are pre-eminent scientists in the College namely; Professor Gert Kruger, Professor Thavi Govender, Dr Frank Tanser and Dr Tulio de Oliveira. Govender is one of UKZN’s top 30 researchers with his 100th publication recorded last year.

Kruger and Govender manage a leading research facility at UKZN with about12 postgraduate students and six postdoctoral students. Research interests of the group span the disciplines of organic synthesis, asymmetric catalysis, peptide drug design and computational chemistry with collaborations across the globe.

Tanser and de Oliveira are both esteemed scientists based in UKZN’s Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies (TAC). Tanser’s study produced ground-breaking research findings that demonstrated the HIV epidemic could be reversed through increasing coverage of antiretroviral therapy (ART).  This was the first time the positive impact of antiretroviral therapy on the rate of new HIV infections had been demonstrated in a community setting.  The results of the study were published in the prestigious journal, Science.

This year de Oliveira co-authored a book titled: HIV and TB Resistance and Clinical Management Case Book with Dr Theresa Rossouw of the University of Pretoria and Dr Richard Lessells from TAC. About 8 000 copies have been distributed, free of charge to clinicians, nurses and members of the community.

De Oliveira has set up a Genomics Bioinformatics system for HIV and other pathogens in South Africa which is managed by the Medical Research Council making it a national resource. Previously, in South Africa, genotyping was prohibited for national implementation due to its cost and complexity. De Oliveira has managed to decrease the cost by half leading to the development of a Bioinformatics database to manage the large volume of data.

De Oliveira is passionate about bringing the technology into the community and especially into the under-resourced community he is currently based in.

Fractional Professors in the College, the majority based in the School of Health Sciences include Professor Per Arvidsson from the Karolinska Institutet who Heads the Science for Life Laboratory. Arvidsson has had a longstanding collaboration with UKZN’s Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit. Jointly, the team have published over 16 publications during the last three years.

Arvidsson’s research interests are in drug design and developing new synthetic methods to be utilised in anti-TB and HIV drug discovery. Arvidsson, who presented to the audience via Skype, said: ‘The key to success is human capital, time and commitment. We should make use of the technical platforms in existence for collaboration as well as the strong support from the College of Health Science’s leadership.’

Fractional researcher Professor Robert Hickner is the Director of the PhD Program in Bioenergetics and Exercise Science at the East Carolina University in the United States. His research interests include aging, obesity, exercise, nitric oxide, nutritive blood flow and lipolysis in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue and nutrition. Hickner is currently collaborating with UKZN’s Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences on the use of microdialysis to study metabolism and blood flow in peripheral tissues. Hickner’s PhD programme is ranked 6th in the Kinesiology programmes offered in the United States.

Professor Hans-Peter Lipp from the University of Zürich is fractional research Professor in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences. He completed his PhD in Anthropology and Primatology and found a society known as the International Behavioural and Neurogenetics Society.

Lipp’s research interests are in behavioural genetics and the collaborative testing of knock-out mice, the role of structural variations of the hippocampus and adult neurogenesis as well as homing pigeons navigation with Global Positioning System and Electroencephalogram recording. Lipp is better known for developing an automated testing system known as INTELLICAGE. He has agreed to set up Intellicages at UKZN for drug testing and high throughput screening.

Professor Takafira Mduluza from the University of Zimbabwe is the fourth fractional research professor whose research interests are in correlates of protective immunity for vaccine development in Infectious diseases. Mduluza is currently collaborating with Dr Zilungile Kwitshana on schistosomiasis in our region.

Mduluza strongly believes that antibodies need to be specific to the variation that exists in our region, being sub-Saharan Africa.

The Symposium ended off with a message from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head, Professor Rob Slotow who said: ‘I’m excited to see a more integrated symposium focusing on improved delivery of services to our people and country. It is also noteworthy to see teams of people collaborating with much enthusiasm, especially as we listened to the presentations by our recently appointed full and fractional Professors from around the world which indicates that we have moved to unlock conversations around collaboration’.

Symposium prizes - which included going to an international conference - in the categories of best paper or poster, staff and students were Dr Reitze Rodseth from Anaesthetics, Ms Jessica Paken from Audiology, Ms Happiness Sibiya from Physiology and Ms Rosemary Swanson from K-RITH.

Winning attendance to a national conference were Dr Thesagan Moodley from Anaesthetics and Ms Shivona Gounden from Medical Biochemistry.

 Winners of R1 000 book prize each were Mr Saiyur Ramsugit from the Infection, Prevention and Control Unit and Dr Meghan Harvey from Medical Biochemistry.

-       MaryAnn Francis


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UKZN Alumnus made Ambassador of World Peace

UKZN Alumnus made Ambassador of World Peace
Dr Nirvadha Singh receives the title Ambassador of World Peace in Rajasthan, India.

Dr Nirvadha Singh - UKZN alumnus, public health scientist, columnist, motivational speaker and poet - recently received the title of Ambassador of World Peace (Shantidoot) in Rajasthan, India, during the International World Peace Conference.

Singh, who was awarded the title for introducing peace education into health care and community activities for the first time, presented a paper titled: “Peace: A Public Health Genesis”.

‘Inner-peace is important for a holistic functioning individual as it allows one to think positively and focus clearer on the internal self and external environment,’ said Singh. ‘The numerous factors which affect a peaceful environment are physical, socio-economic, biological and political which impact positively or negatively on both the individual and the economy.’

Singh said physical factors included disasters either man-made or natural which exhibited a cataclysmic impact upon the environment thereby disrupting peace completely. The demographics of a country were evident by its socio-economic and psycho-social factors which generated divisions within race, religion and ethnic communities.

She said there was also a strong association between violence, poverty and unemployment with an increase in the incidence of women and child rape and abuse.

‘Health must be perceived as not only a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being but also a state of spiritual well-being. The body is congruent with the mind and cannot be dissociated if peace is to be attained.’

Singh is involved in a variety of campaigns including raising awareness against drug abuse, HIV, TB, teenage pregnancy, woman and child abuse, violence, cancer and disasters. She has incorporated the concept of peace within these activities.

Singh is a columnist for the newspaper Satyagraha (Gandhi Development Trust), where she writes on world and health issues raising awareness within the communities. She was also a Public Health Advisor to the Department of Health in the Strategic and Operational Planning of the healthcare system in preparedness for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer in Durban.

-       MaryAnn Francis


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College of Law and Management Studies Strives for Research Excellence

College of Law and Management Studies Strives for Research Excellence
Attending the College Research Day are from left: Mr Rontala Prabhakar, Mr Deepak Kumar and Ms Nobukhosi Zulu.

In support of UKZN’s strategic goal of being a research-led institution, the Dean of Research in the College of Law and Management Studies, Professor Nomthandazo Ntlama, hosted the inaugural College Research Day on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

The theme for the day was: The Foundation Has Just Been Laid for Research Excellence.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College, Professor John Mubangizi, said the event was intended to inculcate the spirit of research in the College, strengthen the relationship between the emerging and senior researchers, promote interdisciplinary research among the four Schools of the College, and contribute to research excellence.

The Research Day is one of many College strategic initiatives geared towards improving its competitiveness in terms of securing funding.

Mubangizi commended Ntlama for introducing various research initiatives aimed at building research capacity in the College, including hosting an Examiners Workshop in August as well as a Postgraduate and Postdoctoral Seminar planned for 17 and 18 October.

The research papers presented by the academics from the four schools were assessed by independent judges with cash prizes offered for the best entries. Ntlama introduced this element in order to determine the impact of the research papers on the contribution to knowledge in a specific discipline.

Commenting on the quality of the papers presented, one of the judges, Dr Shamim Bodhanya, said they had been impressed by the extent of research areas covered by academics from various disciplines. 

Mr Riaz Dhai of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance won the prize for the Best Paper Award for his entry titled: A comparison of the Performance of the FTSE South African Islamic Index to the Market in South Africa.

Ntlama said the day proved to be enlightening as the papers presented by the four Schools were diverse and academics provided constructive feedback. This was seen as a move in the right direction in terms of interdisciplinary research.

Ntlama urged Academic Leaders for Research in the various Schools to work with the College Editors to ensure the papers were published in order to improve research productivity.

-       Hazel Langa


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UKZN Academic Honoured by International Pharmaceutical Federation

UKZN Academic Honoured by International Pharmaceutical Federation
Mr Andy Gray (right) received his award from International Pharmaceutical Federation President, Dr Michel Buchmann, at a conference in Dublin.

Senior Lecturer in UKZN’s Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Mr Andy Gray, has been made a Fellow of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) in recognition of his contribution over the years to the organisation and the profession internationally.

Gray is a Pharmacist whose research interests include policy analysis - in particular the development and implementation of National Medicines Policies - rational medicines use and the application of antiretroviral therapy in resource-constrained settings.

Widely published, Gray is also a consultant Pharmacist for the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and non-executive Chairman of JEMBI Health Systems, a not-for-profit company focused on developing computer/IT-based healthcare solutions for the developing world.

Gray is a Fellow and Honorary Life Member of the Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa, a past President of the South African Association of Hospital and Institutional Pharmacists, a past President of the Hospital Pharmacy Section and current Chairman of the Board of Pharmaceutical Practice of FIP.

He has also been a member of the Scheduling and Naming Expert Committee of the South African Medicines Control Council since 2000 and was appointed to the National Essential Medicines List Committee in 2012. He is a Member of the World Health Organization’s Expert Panel on Drug Policies and Management and has served as a member, rapporteur and co-Chairperson of the Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines.

Gray, who has served as Chairperson of the sub-committee on Essential Medicines for Children and on the WHO Guidelines Review Committee, has been actively involved in the development and assessment of medicines and other health-related law in South Africa.

Commenting on the honour, Head of the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dr Panjasaram Naidoo, said: ‘Congratulations and well done in placing UKZN on the map internationally with regards to the practice of pharmacy.’

-       MaryAnn Francis


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Edgewood Campus Celebrates Heritage in Grand Style

Edgewood Campus Celebrates Heritage in Grand Style
Edgewood Residence Students taking part in their Heritage/cultural celebration event at the Student Union.

A heritage celebration was held on the Edgewood campus with all students living in residences there taking part in the splendid cultural occasion.

Residence Life Officer, Mr Julian King, said the event – organised by the Student Residence Life Office - was aimed at celebrating and acknowledging cultural diversity in unity among students.

‘Edgewood campus residences house a wide range of diverse students from different walks of life, both local and international. They all embrace and celebrate different cultures and that needs to be acknowledged and respected,’said King.

Keynote speaker Mr Clinton Anyanwu, a Nigerian-born student doing his Masters in Education, commended South African students for not shifting away from their culture and heritage as many young people in other countries did. He was proud that students still had the courage to celebrate where they came from.

‘A nation which has lost its culture and tradition is doomed,’ he said, emphasising that it was the responsibility of young people to ensure culture and tradition lived on as it was there that people discovered their true identity.

Students took part in a competition in which they displayed various traditional practices including music, dress code and food reperesenting cultures and traditions from isiZulu, SiSwati, IsiNdebele and IsiXhosa nations among others. Some performed Indian and Nigerian dances as a means of demonstrating unity in diversity within the University. The highlight of the evening was a demonstration by Pinewood Residence students who displayed a fusion of local cultures in the historic Sophiatown concept.

Head of the Department of Student Residence Affairs (Edgewood and Westville), Mr S’busiso Khumalo, applauded students for their dedication and commitment in taking pride in their culture. He also congratulated the Residence Life Assistants for organising the successful event.  

S’busiso Kubeka


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UKZN Students Help Celebrate Deaf Culture

UKZN Students Help Celebrate Deaf Culture
Pupils from the V N Naik School for the Deaf and Roselands Primary School celebrate Deaf Awareness Month with UKZN Audiology students.

Fourth-year Audiology students marked Deaf Awareness Month with a fun day at V N Naik School for the Deaf in Durban.

‘The purpose of the fun day was to commemorate Deaf Awareness Month by celebrating deaf culture, creating unity between the hearing and deaf children and showing them that the only difference is their hearing ability,’ said student, Ms Katriona Kroone. 

Grade six and seven learners from V N Naik and Roselands Primary School were divided into teams which included both deaf and hearing pupils. Various relay events were held including an egg-and-spoon race, bean-bag race, a relay and a sack race. The teachers also took part in a relay of their own and the day concluded with volleyball and netball matches.

‘At first, getting the children to unite and interact was a challenge. Everyone was a bit nervous to step out of their comfort zones, to not only make new friends but to interact with people who use a different language to them,’ said Kroone.

Audiology students at UKZN learn South African Sign Language in their third-year to equip them to work with deaf patients, learners and the deaf community.

‘They taught the learners from Roselands some basic signs such as “hello” and the alphabet which broke the ice. As soon as the races began each team was united - excitement, joy and team spirit don't need interpreters,’ said Kroone.

‘The highlights were seeing the learners from both schools putting their hearing differences aside and having fun together, cheering each other on and celebrating victories after each race. The teachers’ race was definitely another highlight - the room erupted with laughter as the learners watched their teachers get competitive and give their all in their race!’

Here are a few tips to communicate with someone who is deaf:

•  Get their attention with a small wave or tap on the shoulder before trying to communicate
•  Stand in a well-lit area so lips, facial expressions and gestures can be seen. Many people who are deaf are able to lip read or can make sense of gestures, even if they aren’t the official South African sign language signs
•  Speak at a normal pace and don’t shout
•  Write a message on a piece of paper if necessary
•  Be patient.

As part of the Audiology students’ Deaf Awareness campaign they created a hashtag on Twitter which is being used around the country to raise awareness, #DeafAwareness2013

The Audiology students invite everyone on Twitter to tweet the following to raise Deaf awareness:

•  17 babies are born with hearing loss every day in South Africa.
•  Many children in South Africa with hearing loss are being diagnosed late and miss out on important years of language acquisition.
•  If your child has not started using his first word by one year and doesn’t get startled by loud noises, you should see an audiologist.
•  Half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable through primary prevention. Awareness is key! (World Health Organization). 
•  When speaking to someone with hearing loss, face them, speak clearly and repeat info that is missed. 
•  If you feel that you, your child or a family member has hearing loss, visit an audiologist for a hearing assessment.

- Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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The UKZN Griot. Of NRF and Ratings

The UKZN Griot.  Of NRF and Ratings
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Keyan G Tomaselli*

It’s the NRF rating season again.  Round and round we go. Bewildered researchers are either licking their wounds having been denied rating, or crushed from a prior expectation of being bumped from an A to a C3, or no rating at all. Is this what our colleagues really think of us?  So we lick our wounds for another year, blame the system, blame the NRF and blame the disciplinary panels.   Others bury their heads in doing yet more teaching. Some of us kick the dog.  A few consult the consultants provided by the Research Office, but like some of our students, some expect the consultant to fill in their forms for them.

Having served on two panels and refereed applicants from a variety of disciplines, done a stint on the NRF appeal committee, and advised UKZN applicants, I have worked from the inside and from the outside of the ratings process. Amongst my contributions have been workshops conducted at other universities and conferences on getting rated. I know the system - warts and all.  There’s no easy cure.  St John’s Wort won’t work on the depression that accompanies rating applications, or girding one’s loins to start the process.  Neither will acupuncture, aromatherapy or reflexology, though these are infinitely preferable to doing rating. 

Ratings applications are more stressful than doing tax returns.  The latter steals our hard earned income, the former, often, ruins our self-esteem.  Yet, both are supposed to build capacity, encourage us to be good citizens, and enable us to make contributions to society.  So we persist with taxes and ratings, and KPAs and SAPSE, and work load calculations and other indices that bear less and less resemblance to actual reality.

These are all part of the new global instrumentalism resulting from the demands for public accountability that now characterise the public sector except for, in South Africa, the public sector itself.   Those who hold us accountable are themselves exempted from being held accountable.  Ratings, like IQ tests, are of course biased.  They measure ephemera, and outcomes may differ between panels, and not everything that should be measured, or better still, qualitatively assessed, is included.  This would be impossible. 

Those of us who play the game are both stressed and positively challenged by it. My own maverick research career might have been much more narrowly and boringly focussed had the rating system been introduced to the Humanities along with the Sciences from the beginning.  Personally, I don’t like being boxed into narrow conceptual or methodological trajectories. But this also reflects my transdisciplinary origins and broad interdisciplinary mandate in setting up CCMS in 1985.  Ratings criteria can’t easily handle critical hybridity, transdisciplinarity and intellectual mavericks.   Neither can they easily handle postdisciplinary researchers who have no clear disciplinary home.

So, many academics just opt out.  They are neither stressed by it, and consider their passive resistance as a positive. But they thereby limit their horizons promotion-wise.   This is Finagle’s Law at work:  ‘The likelihood of a thing happening is inversely proportional to its desirability.’

The rest of us negotiate the following contradictions and, as is well known, these hit the Humanities hardest:

•  SAPSE as God; one has to balance submission to top international journals not on any qualifying list with what for the Humanities are largely local back door accredited operations.  Nothing wrong with this except that such journals are not taken seriously by NRF ratings panels.  And, remember folks, the panels are constituted from our own peers, some of whom are the editors of such journals.

•  Disciplinary-boundedness; UKZN has done away with clear boundaries  in the name of transformation, ie dismantling departments, disciplines and killing off HODs. According to Rozenzweig’s Rubric, departments, ironically, are simultaneously the most capable of producing change, but the least likely to do so.   So they get unbundled even as their staff try to retain the bundles.

•  NRF panels rate in terms of disciplines.  Many in the Humanities have lost their disciplinary paths which now fall between (post-)disciplines; many are teaching topics in which they are not qualified, and nor do they necessarily learn about the epistemological histories of the subjects they are now teaching. These folks will find themselves at a ratings disadvantage. Take a hike to no-ratings land. It’s not far.

•  The SAPSE-led push for quantity vs. the NRF-led push for quality and impact.  While the one does not cancel out the other this tension does affect choice of journals in which to publish.  We all know about instances where a bad paper is simply round-robbened by its author until a SAPSE accredited journal picks it up.  Everybody does get published thus – eventually.  But remember, the NRF referees will pick this up and crucify the ratings applicant for publishing a paper that everyone but the author (and the clueless reviewers) knows should never have seen the light of day.

•  The consequences of parochialization; academics who want to be global scholars need to publish locally and globally, whether or not in SAPSE-accredited journals. We put a brake on our international careers and South Africa’s global standing when we forget about the rest of the world.

•  In reading the proposed SAPSE accreditation policy, it once again forgets the Humanities.  Are we really surprised? The answer is simple.  Just include one more index to the list, the Modern Languages Association.  But elegant simplicity is not the way we do things in South Africa.

•  More significantly, journals that do not obtain and retain ISI, Scopus and IBSS status will have to reapply for ‘accreditation’ every five years.  Good idea, then those journals still listing long dead members of their editorial boards, or which lack impact, might wake up and smell the coffee.

Actually, engaging in the ratings process is a positive career pathing experience, though the outcome may be disappointing.  I recommend it for everyone.

Keyan G Tomaselli is Director of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society.  He is all rated out.

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


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