Technicians Topple Academics in Cricket Friendly

Technicians Topple Academics in Cricket Friendly
Lady of the match, Professor Edith Peters-Futre.

A fun afternoon of cricket involving academics and technicians in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS) was enjoyed to the final ball by all the players.

The Dean and Head of School, Professor William Daniels, said academics and technicians worked so closely together it was important they socialised and engaged with each other outside the traditional working space.

This School combines the Disciplines associated with Pathology and Laboratory Medicine with the basic medical sciences of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, which underpin the Institution’s clinical curricula.

In the context of patient care and clinical decision making, the involvement of the Disciplines of Laboratory Medicine are required in more than 80 percent of clinical decision making at all levels from outpatient care for ambulant patients to inpatient care for the critically ill patient.

‘The cricket game was a lovely initiative and a tremendous success,’ said Technical Operations Manager, Miss Metse Seremula.

She echoed the words of Daniels who said he hoped ‘the exuberance of the event’ would be contagious in spreading a positive sprit, even to those academics and technicians unable to attend.

Unisex teams competed against each other in the friendly cricket match which ended with the technicians team victorious.

Professor Edith Peters-Futre (62) was named “Lady of the Match” after scoring lots of runs and taking catches off two consecutive balls. An Exercise Physiologist by profession, the former national runner has also completed the challenging Midmar Mile swim.

Lunga Memela

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Students Participate in Community Project on Teaching Project Planning

Students Participate in Community Project on Teaching Project Planning
Community Development students participate in a project that integrates Information Technology and participatory techniques in the teaching of project planning within the Discipline of Community Development.

A group of 12 undergraduate Community Development students, under the guidance and leadership of their Lecturer, Ms Phindile Shangase, recently embarked on a project titled: “Integrating Information Technology and Participatory Techniques in the Teaching of Project Planning within the Discipline of Community Development”.

This project addressed the need to combine theoretical teachings with community-based practice and engaged in activities that formerly educated and trained Community Development UKZN students outside the University.

The study further integrated practical lessons in the teaching of the Programme/Project Planning module within the Community Development Discipline. Practical information technology tools were also used in the form of tablet personal computers (PC) and Microsoft Excel project, including the Logical Framework planning tool.

As a practical assignment, students worked in groups of four. The project was undertaken as an evidence-based approach to teaching the next generation of researchers and Community Development practitioners. Prior to undertaking this project, students attended detailed workshops on: applying participatory methods to identify community needs and using tablet PC and MS Project as a project planning computer-based tool.

Each group assisted community beneficiaries to select one most important need for which an implementable and sustainable project plan was developed. This process therefore enabled mutual planning of community development projects from scratch.

‘Students also electronically recorded applicable evidence while undertaking fieldwork; using tablet PCs, said Shangase. ‘Community engagement therefore enabled students to understand community problems in a complex way. Involvement in this project also enhanced students’ IT skills that are essential in efficiently performing tasks.’

Asked how this project benefitted the students, she said: ‘Though the theoretical component of the taught modules is important, this project showed that the practical aspect of students’ learning is essential in truly grasping and enhancing the learning process. Therefore positive impacts of this project on the teaching-learning process cannot be overemphasised.

‘The project was also vital in equipping students with the practical knowledge of the real working industry to allow them to be able to apply the theory they have learned in their modules to different communities. Thus, as future community development practitioners, students realised the importance of localising solutions to community needs. This project therefore contributed to the use of pedagogies that respond appropriately to the learning needs of Community Development students.’

According to the students, they started to see Community Development as a very powerful tool that is influential in transforming society. ‘It enhanced my research skills and it was an enjoyable experience to be exposed to the fieldwork before the completion of my degree,’ said one student.

The project was made possible through a successful grant application via the UKZN Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO).

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Jazz Jol a Great Success

UKZN Jazz Jol a Great Success
At UKZN’s 26th Annual Jazz Jol are bands CAB and Unlocked Keys headed by Mr Sibusiso Mashiloane.

UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music (CJPM), recently hosted their 26th Annual Jazz Jol  in partnership with The French Institute in South Africa and Alliance Française de Durban and featuring bands CAB and Unlocked Keys.

Unlocked Keys, led by UKZN Music Lecturer, Mr Sibusiso Mashiloane, opened . Asked about the band’s name, Mashiloane said: ‘The name of the band, reflects a desire to transcend the boundaries of genre and style and create music without limits.’

Discussing his band’s involvement in the Jazz Jol, he said: ‘Every moment with the Unlocked Keys was worth experiencing. We believe in capturing moments and being in the moment. The band is well rehearsed but there was also good-room to interact with audiences and that room differed with each audience.

‘And the partnership between UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music and the Alliance Francaise de Durban produced fabulous collaborations. In 2012 they hosted Erik Truffaz a Swiss–born French jazz Trumpet. It is a good thing to see institutions with healthy working relationships.’

Mashiloane introduced some of his compositions and arrangements of jazz standards in 2007 in his Honours year at UKZN. He not only received a distinction for his recital, but his band attracted more work for jazz festivals, competitions and other music opportunities.

Sibusiso holds a Masters degree in Jazz performance, and is a part-time Lecturer in the School of Music at UKZN. The other band members - all noted for their sensitivity to music, originality, creativity and passion - are Sibu Mashiloane (piano), Ildo Nandja (bass), Zoe Masuku (vocals), and Sbusiso Zondi (drums)

With the event having become a popular feature on the Durban Jazz calendar, this year, the Centre was also excited to feature jazzy-African tunes played by CAB, which concludes its two- month tour of more than 10 African countries.

CAB is the meeting of African, Caribbean and Brazilian music orchestrated by Martinican pianist, Mario Canonge, Cameroonian singer and guitarist, Blick Bassy, and the talented young Brazilian percussionist, Adriano Tenorio.

Proceeds from the concert go towards The Ronnie Madonsela Scholarship which assists disadvantaged jazz students at UKZN on many levels with financial aid or support.

 Melissa Mungroo and Thuli Zama

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Computer Science Professor Rated NRF C1 Researcher

Computer Science Professor Rated NRF C1 Researcher
Professor Nelishia Pillay.

Associate Professor in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (SMSCS), Professor Nelishia Pillay, has been awarded a C1 rating by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

This is the first NRF rating for Pillay who has been at the University for 16 years.

Now teaching and doing research in the Discipline of Computer Science, Pillay was first attracted to the discipline because of her love of problem solving but was particularly intrigued by the area of artificial intelligence: the idea of getting computers to think intelligently and perform high level reasoning and problem solving.

After obtaining her PhD in Computer Science at UKZN, Pillay joined the staff where her research areas include hyper-heuristics, combinatorial optimisation, genetic programming, genetic algorithms and other biologically-inspired methods. Pillay has published in these areas in journals and has presented at national and international conferences.

The allocation of a C1 rating from the NRF indicates that Pillay’s research outputs are recognised by her peers as being of a distinct and consistently high quality, and demonstrate her ongoing engagement with her field of inquiry.

Pillay has served on programme committees for several national and international conferences and is a reviewer for various journals.  She is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Task Force on Hyper-Heuristics with the Technical Committee of Intelligent Systems and Applications at the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (CIS), and was instrumental in establishing the Nature Inspired Computing Optimisation Group (NICOG) at UKZN, which supports and promotes postgraduate research.

Within NICOG, Pillay plays an important mentorship role to students doing their postgraduate studies. The group currently comprises three student assistants (two undergraduates and one honours student), two Honours students, six Masters students, five PhD students and one postdoctoral researcher.  The group is the recipient of an NRF grant lasting from 2014 to 2016 to support Pillay’s research and postgraduate student supervision in the area of ‘Evolutionary Algorithm Hyper-Heuristics’.

NICOG is Pillay’s main area of focus in terms of supervision and research. The members of NICOG are currently examining the application and theory of approaches taking analogy from nature to solve Computer Science problems. Examples of these applications include timetabling and scheduling, computer security, game playing, data mining and automatic programming. The research also includes high performance computing for the implementation of nature inspired methods that are computationally intensive.

Speaking of receiving a C1 rating from the NRF, Pillay described it as one of the moments in her career that she is most proud of. ‘It gives me the confidence and incentive to aim higher and achieve more regarding the international impact of my research.’

Despite being a remarkable rating to be awarded upon first application, receiving such a high rating has only inspired Pillay to aim even higher in her next rating by increasing the international impact of her important work.

Pillay, whose work has played a vital role in the SMSCS, says the University’s support in the area of research, for example by giving awards for productivity, and College scholarships for postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers, has enhanced and enabled her work.

‘The high standard expected by the University regarding research output makes one competitive both at a national and international level,’ said Pillay of the University’s admonition to produce top-quality research, a policy which drives her to do her best and aim higher in her research and supervision.

Pillay also works in the area of Computer Science education, which has essentially involved the identification of learning difficulties encountered by students studying Computer Science and the subsequent development of methods to assist them in overcoming these difficulties. 

‘I intend continuing with this research,’ said Pillay. ‘While this has previously been mainly aimed at the first year level, I am currently investigating this for a third year undergraduate course in Artificial Intelligence which forms the foundation for Honours modules in this area.’

Academic Leader in Computer Science at SMSCS, Dr Aderemi Adewumi, congratulated Pillay on her outstanding achievement and well-deserved recognition, calling it a boost for both the Computer Science Discipline and the School.

Christine Cuénod

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Young Health Students Take the Oath

Young Health Students Take the Oath
Final year Health students taking the oath.

UKZN’s School of Health Sciences and the School of Nursing and Public Health recently presented members of South Africa’s next generation of health professionals to proud parents, friends and academics at the annual Oath Taking and Awards Ceremony.

The ceremony was held at the University’s Westville campus where excitement, cheers and ululation erupted in support of the students who recently wrote their final examinations.

Students recited oaths reminding them to always place the patient first.

The young health professionals will graduate next year from the Schools’ variety of degree programmes including Audiology; Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences; Dental Therapy and Oral Health; Nursing; Occupational Therapy; Optometry; Pharmaceutical Sciences; Physiotherapy, and Speech-Language Pathology.

About 50 awards were issued at the ceremony to top academic achievers and student groups who excelled in their final-year research projects.

College of Health Sciences Acting Dean of Teaching and Learning, Dr Frasia Oosthuizen, acknowledged that the ceremony was a milestone for students. She also applauded the parents for supporting their children.

The students were inspired by Guest Speaker, Ms Catherine Koofhethile, who is currently conducting her doctoral research at UKZN’s HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) under the co-supervision of Dr Christina Thobakgale and the Director of the HPP, Professor Thumbi Ndung’u.

Koofhethile recently had a ‘chance of a lifetime’ opportunity to mingle with Nobel Laureates at the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate (Medicine and Physiology) meeting in Germany. 

Sharing her personal journey from a young girl who grew up in Botswana to becoming an eminent scientist in HIV research, Koofhethile said while the students should celebrate completing their undergraduate degrees this was only the beginning of prosperous futures in the health sciences if they stepped up to the challenge.

Koofhethile encouraged them to not be afraid to go online and identify mentors and opportunities that would unlock their potential. ‘Do not wait for someone to tell you to apply for something. You have to keep looking and don’t be shy to introduce yourself wherever you go. Do everything with passion!’

Koofhethile said it was essential for each and every student to consider returning to UKZN to enrol for postgraduate studies. ‘Coming to UKZN as a young researcher was one of the best decisions I ever made - we conduct research to answer unanswered questions.’

Dean and Head of the School of Health Sciences, Professor Sabiha Essack, said UKZN’s College of Health Sciences, which boasts cutting edge discipline-specific and multi-disciplinary research relevant to the South African and international contexts, had entrenched research partnerships at national and international level and enjoyed large grants from national and international funders.   It was up to the students to seize such opportunities.

Lunga Memela

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UKZN Signs Agreement to Improve Nursing in KZN

UKZN Signs Agreement to Improve Nursing in KZN
School of Nursing and Public Health Staff with representatives from ICAP and CNO.

UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health (SNPH) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with representatives from the International Centre for AIDS Care Treatment Programme (ICAP) and the Office of the Chief Nursing Officer.

Country Programme Manager for ICAP in South Africa, Professor Thembi Khanyile, said the aim of the MOU was to establish a relationship between her organisation and the University to forge a nursing education and training strategy that will benefit both the nursing profession and the Institution.

UKZN is the only institution of higher learning that ICAP will work through with students involved in this project being selected from the three Nursing colleges in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Free State.

Khanyile said the ICAP would assist the Institution with financial and technical support for six fulltime Master of Nursing students while registered at the University.

The project will start in February next year and there are already six students that will register at UKZN.

Khanyile said the University was expected to support students with settling in logistics (ie residence accommodation) and structured academic support.

The Institution is also expected to participate in the monthly Nursing Education Partnership Initiative (NEPI) update meetings to discuss students’ progress and also support students in developing realistic achievable programme plans.

‘We are here because UKZN’s Nursing Discipline within the School of Nursing and Public Health already has an existing Innovative nursing education programme, which fits well with our priority number one, of nursing education,’ said Professor Fikile Mtshali, who is currently providing technical support to the Chief Nursing Officer(CNO).

Mtshali said the selected students would be exposed to UKZN’s innovative models of teaching and learning as part of building their capacity.  The CNO’s office had a mandate to ensure that nursing and midwifery practitioners were equipped to address the disease burden and population health needs in a revitalised healthcare system in South Africa.

Dean and Head of School, Professor Busi Ncama, welcomed the initiative and thanked representatives for choosing her School.

‘The initiative will make UKZN a preferred Higher Education Institute for the Master of Nursing programme in the country and in Africa. It will also increase the number of our publications because masters students are expected to present and publish their research work,’ Ncama said.

ICAP is a global health initiative leader situated at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The organisation aims to improve the health of families and communities by tackling the most pressing health threats in collaboration with partners to implement transformative solution to meet health needs. It also aims to build capacity of the health workforce through innovative and ethical programmes.

Nombuso Dlamini

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Increased Condom and Contraception Use by HIV Positive Women in Rural KZN

Increased Condom and Contraception Use by HIV Positive Women in Rural KZN

HIV positive women in the KwaHlabisa sub-district of KwaZulu-Natal are making increasing use of both contraceptives and condoms as they progress through the treatment cascade, according to research results.

The empirical study, conducted by UKZN’s Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, draws attention to a steady rise in the use of birth control as HIV-positive women discover their HIV status, enrol in HIV treatment and care programmes and become established on HIV treatment.

The findings also emphasise the importance of integrating HIV and reproductive health programmes in the public sector.

Led by Professor Till Bärnighausen, experienced researchers from the Africa Centre teamed up to co-write an article for the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS) supplement titled: “Preventing Unintended Pregnancy and HIV Transmission – the Effects of the HIV Treatment Cascade in Rural KwaZulu-Natal”. 

‘For women living with HIV, the dual-method dual-protection contraception (condoms plus another contraceptive method) is always preferable over the single-method dual-protection contraception (condoms alone) because of its higher contraceptive effectiveness.’ said Bärnighausen.

The study found that progression through HIV treatment improved the overall likelihood of using contraception in general, particularly with condoms. Notably, this significant increase in using contraception with condoms occurred in HIV positive women who learned of their HIV status and initiated ART.

‘Our results further suggest that ART programmes contribute to HIV prevention through behavioural pathways of changing contraception uptake and choice among HIV-positive women,’ said Bärnighausen.

Bärnighausen is confident that future integration of HIV and reproductive health services can build on these achievements to further improve contraceptive choice and use among HIV-positive women. 

Buhle Soni

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Clinical Anatomy Holds Annual Solemn Ceremony

Clinical Anatomy Holds Annual Solemn Ceremony
Colleagues and members of various church ministries at the Discipline of Clinical Anatomy’s Solemn Ceremony.

UKZN’s Discipline of Clinical Anatomy (DOCA) recently held its annual Solemn Ceremony, honouring the lives and families of 40 people who donated their bodies as cadavers to be used for the medical education of students.

Colleagues and various religious leaders attended a ceremony at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine (NRMSM) before the cremation to pay tribute to the sacrifice made by the donors towards improving the lives of the living through medical education.

‘They are the seeds that die to give life to others,’ said one of the priests.

The family members of the donors were also recognised for sacrifices made in the interests of medical education.

The Pastoral Body of the Durban Christian Centre said: ‘Every single body at DOCA represents a life. These are legacies left behind.’

The clergy prayed for God to strengthen DOCA in its work. ‘The work you do towards saving lives is not just a service to the profession but also a service to God.’

Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, Professor William Daniels, expressed appreciation for the ceremony.

Daniels thanked those present and acknowledged that the bodies donated had been mothers, sisters, brothers and treasured members of society. ‘From an academic monitoring side it is very heart-warming to witness today’s proceedings.’

Dr Onyemaechi Azu, a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Anatomy, said he was ‘at a loss for words’ to express DOCA’S appreciation to those at the ceremony.

‘Medical education is important for modelling South Africa’s future,’ said Azu.

Head of UKZN’s Department of Forensic Pathology, Dr Sageren Aiyer, said he was impressed by DOCA’s legally compliant handling of the Discipline.

DOCA is located on the Westville and Medical School campuses, offering undergraduate courses in Anatomy to medical and allied health professional students.

People keen to donate their bodies to the University can phone Mr Salem Kharwa on 031-260 4585 or email him at

Lunga Memela

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PhD Research Inspires Establishment of Gym for Diabetes Patients

PhD Research Inspires Establishment of Gym for Diabetes Patients
Dr Sonill Maharaj and his doctoral student, Mr Jibril Mohammed Nuhu.

Two papers have been submitted for publication in leading international journals by Physiotherapy Lecturer and UKZN PhD candidate, Mr Jibril Mohammed Nuhu, who advocates physical activity for diabetes sufferers in Nigeria.

Nuhu said he could no longer sit by and watch family members and the general population dying from diabetes – a largely preventable disease.

Nuhu is conducting research at a diabetes outpatient clinic in Nigeria where he recently introduced a gym, including a treadmill and mini-trampolines, promoting physical activity as a way of treating scores of diabetes sufferers.

Nuhu said there was a pressing need for increasing physical activity for patients with chronic illnesses such as type-1 and type-2 diabetes in Nigeria.

‘Patients expressed a need for a programme with physical activity and this inspired my PhD. There was an overwhelming uptake for the programme. Everybody is excited about the gym and all the patients want to use the mini-trampolines and treadmill.’

Supervised by UKZN Physiotherapy Discipline’s Academic Leader, Dr Sonill Maharaj, the first of Nuhu’s papers was recently submitted and is currently being given full consideration for publication in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation.

The paper examines the effect of rebound exercise performed on a mini-trampoline in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) patients by monitoring their glycated haemoglobin, fasting plasma glucose and body mass index.

Evidence suggested that moderate-intensity rebound exercise was safe for non-insulin T2D patients and improved haemoglobin, fasting plasma and body mass index. 

Such exercise could be used as an adjuvant when managing the study population and had the potential to reduce the complications and the human and financial resources required to manage diabetes mellitus in the clinical environment.

The second paper was submitted for publication in the International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries where Maharaj is a member of the review team.

The paper is titled: “The Effect of Exercise and Treadmill Walking on the Quality of Life for Patients with Non-Insulating Dependent Type 2 Diabetes”.

Nuhu’s study found that rebound exercise and treadmill walking could be used to improve quality of life for T2D patients and possibly reduce the side effects and co-morbidities associated with diabetic medication and diabetes.

He said he was excited to see patients developing positive attitudes towards leading active lifestyles regularly attending his gym.

Not only does he possess a decade of experience as an Exercise Lecturer at Nigeria’s Bayero University Kano but he said he also kept active by jogging and brisk walking on every alternative day.

While it required commitment and sacrifice to travel to and from South Africa for his research, his attitude and the excellence he displayed in his work was lauded by Maharaj. 

Nuhu said he loved South Africa and the warmth of its people.

Lunga Memela

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Dependence on ‘Western knowledge’ Slated

Dependence on ‘Western knowledge’ Slated
The Graduation ceremony for the Capacity Building Training Programme on Indigenous Knowledge Systems Epistemologies and Research Methodologies.

The importance placed on ‘Western knowledge’ was slated at a graduation ceremony in Durban for participants in the Capacity Building Training Programme on Indigenous Knowledge Systems Epistemologies and Research Methodologies. 

The four-month course was conducted by the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (CIKS) based at UKZN in collaboration with the Moses Kotane Institute. 

Chairperson of the National Arts Council of South Africa and member of DST-NRF CIKS Board, Professor Moses Nkondo, delivered the keynote address. A former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Venda, Professor Nkondo highlighted the importance of IKS and slated the dependence on ‘Western systems of knowing’.

He cautioned against relying on western knowledge. ‘America’s knowledge is derived from an American experience.’

Professor Nkondo emphasised the importance of learning in one’s own language, saying: ‘You will never be respected anywhere in the world unless you learn in your own language.’

One of the facilitators of the workshop, Professor Yonah Seleti from the DST, emphasised the importance of IKS contributing to the knowledge economy. ‘Knowledge is like money. If you don’t invest it, it will remain small,’ said Seleti.

The Moses Kotane Institute’s Mr Zithulele Zondi  said MKI wanted to build a repository of knowledge and  UKZN was best placed to drive this process as Professor Hassan Kaya was acknowledged as ‘one of the pillars of IKS’.

Kaya, the Director of the DST/NRF CIKS, said the IKS research training programme was based on the acknowledgement that the test of any knowledge system was the extent to which it helped solve life problems. 

‘In South Africa, the National Development Plan (NDP) has identified specific real life problems facing the majority of the people, such as job creation, poverty eradication, poor education, uneven access to health, infrastructure, popular participation and social cohesion,’  said Kaya.

‘IKS researchers and other stakeholders including policy makers are faced with the challenges of creating social justice with regard to decolonising western ways of knowing, knowledge production and value systems which were imported into African societies through colonialism and other forms of imperialism including globalisation,’ he said.

Kaya said IKS was one of the most important aspects in the knowledge economy. He expressed gratitude to the Moses Kotane Institute and UKZN Management for their consistent support to the development and promotion of IKS.

Programme Director Ms Nolwazi Dlamini from the Provincial Department of Social Development encouraged participants to be role models in their communities by promoting the use of IKS. She emphasised the importance of strengthening indigenous knowledge.

The objectives of the training programme were to:

•    Build a cadre of researchers in KwaZulu-Natal trained in IKS epistemologies and research methodologies 

•    Facilitate the discovery and recovery of indigenous ways of knowing, knowledge production and their value systems as the basis of promoting sustainable development and community livelihood 

•   Critique the dominant paradigms based on the indigenous ways of knowing, knowledge production and value systems including their philosophical bases 

•    Theorise indigenous paradigms of knowledge production (research) and philosophies supported by specific case studies as the conceptual frameworks for indigenous research endeavours 

•   Interrogate power relations in current research processes.

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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UKZN-NHLS Chemical Pathology Department Gets Recognition Certificate

UKZN-NHLS Chemical Pathology Department Gets Recognition Certificate
Chemical Pathology staff at King Edward VIII Hospital.

The UKZN-NHLS Chemical Pathology Department is among the national laboratories which received a Certificate of Recognition for Accreditation of Government Laboratories at a recent conference in Cape Town.

The certificate was issued by the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) in recognition of the laboratory’s quality of work and competence to perform well.

Laboratory Manager for Chemical Pathology at King Edward VIII Hospital, Mrs Usha Bellbhudder - who nominated the department for accreditation - said the international recognition confirmed the level of excellence at which the UKZN-NHLS Chemical Pathology Department conducted its business.

Bellbhudder said staff at the laboratory consisted of a combination of dedicated young and seasoned employees, all of whom worked as a team to ensure that the service delivery they provided to hospitals, affiliated clinics and the wider province of KwaZulu-Natal was always timeous and accurate.

‘We pride ourselves in ensuring accuracy and efficiency in our work and for this reason we are always strict about our turn-around times.’

The Department of Chemical Pathology is a joint UKZN-National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) unit, headed by Dr Magdalena Turzyniecka, who is based at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, and is part of the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences within the College of Health Sciences.

‘This award confirms the importance of the team work and staff determination in aiming to achieve excellence which in the laboratory practice translates into alignment to international ISO standards which is the achievement of accreditation,’ said Turzyniecka.

The Department provides diagnostic laboratory services for the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital and the King Edward VIII Hospital as well as peripheral hospitals across KwaZulu-Natal.

At UKZN, the Discipline is proud to have a full automation analytical system and services about 180 000 to 200 000 tests every month. Chemical Pathology staff are also involved in teaching at undergraduate (MBChB) and postgraduate levels, providing training for the laboratory technicians, technologists, and medical scientists as well as for medical students and registrars. It actively participates in the hospital teaching activities.

Also known as Clinical Biochemistry or Clinical Chemistry, Chemical Pathology is unique in that it brings together science and all medical specialties and applies biochemical and molecular techniques in the diagnosis of a disease.

The Discipline originated over a century ago with the use of simple chemical tests for various components of blood and urine. Subsequently other techniques were applied including the use and measurement of enzyme activities, spectrophotometry, electrophoresis and immunoassays.

Lunga Memela

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Law and Management Studies Academics Achieve NRF Ratings

Law and Management Studies Academics Achieve NRF Ratings
Dr Marisa Casale and Professor Robert Williams.

Three academics from the College of Law and Management Studies have received National Research Foundation (NRF) ratings.

They are: Professor Robert Williams, Dr Irene Govender and Dr Marisa Casale.

Williams, who lectures on Corporate Law and Income Tax law at the School of Law, is regarded as an expert in this field, having authored more than 100 tax articles and case-notes in the South African Law Journal and other journals. He has also published several leading books dealing with tax law which have become vital references for all those practising in this highly specialised field. 

Commenting on the achievement, Williams said he was looking forward to the benefits that came with being awarded a C2 rating.

‘My motivation in applying for an NRF rating was the realisation that this is now a non-negotiable requirement for every academic’s career. Every phase of the application process was time consuming that is why it is vital, at the outset, to attend one of the information sessions that the University regularly provides to learn what an NRF rating is, what criteria are applied, and how to go about making the application. What I will gain personally from my NRF rating remains to be seen,’ he said.

Williams is presently working on journal articles and a new edition of his books on income tax.

HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa, in areas that include: the economic impact of HIV, HIV prevention, and social networks as a resource for health and coping. Casale sees being awarded the NRF Y2 rating, which is given to promising young researchers, as an indication of her potential to continue to develop professionally and make substantial contributions to her field.

‘As someone who moved from development finance into health research  less than 10 years ago, I consider this rating an important recognition of my commitment to producing high quality, original and  relevant research, by international standards.  As an “applied researcher” working in a dynamic environment, this is not only about the potential to conduct scientifically rigorous research that contributes to theory and debate, but ultimately about the potential to produce research that can make a real difference to people’s lives through its impact on policy and practice,’ said Casale.

‘This would need to occur by ensuring that the research is relevant to the needs of key decision-makers within governments and development organisations, and through appropriate consultation and engagement with these decision-makers.’

Casale was recently given an opportunity to lead a new programme within HEARD that will focus on issues around health governance and finance in Eastern and Southern Africa. She hopes to link her past research and experience with future high quality, relevant and cutting-edge approaches to knowledge generation that will have a positive impact on health promotion in the Southern African region.

As a Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Information Systems and Technology within the School of Management, Information and Technology, Govender’s research focuses on the current technologies in teaching and learning, including e-learning. The C-rated researcher also supervises honours students in Information Systems and Technology and lectures in Object Orientated Systems Analysis and Design, Networking and Communications and Information Systems Security.

Thandiwe Jumo

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UKZN Research Presented at American Speech Language Hearing Association Convention

UKZN Research Presented at American Speech Language Hearing Association Convention
Lecturer Ms Jenny Pahl and Research Supervisor Ms Saira Karrim at the convention.

A paper based on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) research conducted in UKZN’s Discipline of Speech-Language Pathology by undergraduate students and authored by lecturers in the Discipline, was presented at the 2014 American Speech Language Hearing Association Convention in Florida in the United States.

Concerned that ASD is a severe, lifelong disorder with unknown causes, UKZN students Ms Summaya Gangat, Ms Noxolo Shange, Ms Kirsty Wheeler and Ms Vivian de Vries investigated the knowledge and explored the views on treatments of Durban-based parents of ASD children aged between five and nine years.

ASD is characterised by impairments in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and behaviour. Importantly, parents play a vital role in selecting treatments from the wide range available.

The young researchers found that of the 46 parents of children with ASD in the study, 53 percent rated treatments as unfamiliar or had only heard of the treatment. Only 13.4 percent of the parents said they had a practical understanding of the treatments. Out of all the treatments, parents rated their knowledge as being highest on Speech-Language Therapy (SLT), probably because SLT was offered at hospitals and schools, and because communication problems were core deficits in ASD.

The researchers said it was alarming that 68 percent of the parents stated they had difficulties accessing ASD treatment facilities and healthcare professionals. ‘The majority of parents perceived the treatments as being costly and 74 percent reported that they had a good relationship with their healthcare professional.’

Implications from the study included that there was a need for healthcare professionals to provide information about the various available ASD treatments to assist parents in accessing appropriate facilities as well as to recommend treatments supported by research. 

The study found that parents played a vital role in selecting treatments, which complicated issues for families and professionals due to the wide range available.

It was therefore was important to obtain the views of parents of children with ASD on the range of treatments that they had explored; how they ranked these treatments as well as the input they received from professionals in the field.

The supervisors said it was important for researchers from other countries to know what was happening in South Africa.

‘We have a unique contribution about autism treatments from the perspective of health and education in South Africa. In addition the cultural and linguistic diversity in South Africa presents both a challenge and an opportunity for research.’

Lunga Memela

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UKZN Scientist Featured in Book on Biotechnology Excellence in Africa

UKZN Scientist Featured in Book on Biotechnology Excellence in Africa
Professor Mark Laing.

Professor Mark Laing of the Discipline of Plant Pathology in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) is featured in a Public Understanding of Biotechnology’s (PUB) book, titled: Blazing a Biotechnology Trail: Celebrating Biotechnology Excellence in Africa.

The book was published to celebrate 10 years of the programme in 2013 and to highlight the work of individuals in South Africa who contribute to the advancement of biotechnology. Minister Naledi Pandor of the Department of Science and Technology signed presentation copies of the book.

The book is a “Who’s Who” of both established and up-and-coming researchers in South Africa working in the fields of Agriculture, Industry and Environment, Health and Communication on biotechnology-related projects.

Nominations for inclusion were made last year and nominees were considered and chosen by a panel of leading biotechnologists in South Africa. The publication seeks to promote awareness about biotechnology work being done in the country as well as combatting misconceptions about the work of biotechnologists, particularly in realms such as plant breeding or genomics and associated concerns in terms of genetic modification.

The PUB programme was set up in the context of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) National Biotechnology Strategy launched in 2001 to encourage South Africa’s engagement with and progression in newer biotechnology developments, particularly in the field of genetics and genomic sciences. The initiative recognised the potential of biotechnology to make significant contributions to major national priorities, such as the combatting of the HIV and AIDS pandemic and the pursuit of food security and sustainability enhanced by biotechnological developments.

As an update to this strategy, the Department of Science and Technology launched its Bio-economy Strategy, which is aimed at advancing the development of South Africa's natural biological resources into products with commercial value. The Bio-economy Strategy is intended to pick up in the area of buy-in from government and combine this support with the scientific drive to advance biotechnology.

Laing, who was the only UKZN staff member to be included in the publication, was featured for his work in the plant breeding sector where he is focusing on the breeding of African food security and biofuels crops, and in Plant Pathology in the field of biological control, including the post-harvest citrus diseases which impact on the profitability and viability of South Africa’s citrus exports.

Laing works with an industry partner, Plant Health Products, to ensure that effective and affordable biocontrol products end up in the hands of commercial and small-scale farmers across Africa, using “friendly” microbes to solve pest and disease problems.

At the launch of the publication in Johannesburg, Laing spoke on the training of plant breeders at UKZN to breed new crop cultivars to improve food security and crop productivity. This training is done through the African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI), a centre at SAEES that was established in 2002 through funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), which has so far trained 56 PhD students from 14 African countries, who have between them released 120 new cultivars with improved features intended to be adopted in their home countries.

As Director of the Centre, Laing is passionate about seeing plant breeders using biotechnology to improve the lives of those in their home countries through their innovative work in plant breeding.

Christine Cuénod

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UKZN Visits Addington Children’s Hospital in Durban

UKZN Visits Addington Children’s Hospital in Durban
Dr Arthi Ramkissoon (far left), and Mr Nick Meyerowitz of Norvo Construction (far right), on a tour of Addington Children’s Hospital with the UKZN Foundation team.

Soggy and blustery weather did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of those who gave the UKZN Foundation team a tour of progress made in the multi-million rand upgrade to the Addington Children’s Hospital in Durban.

The tour was led by KZN’s Children’s Hospital Trust founder, Dr Arthi Ramkissoon, and Contracts Manager, Mr Nick Meyerowitz of Norvo Construction.

Renovating the Addington Children’s Hospital is a strategic part of healthcare delivery in KwaZulu-Natal, according to Public Health Specialist, Ramkissoon.  Now that the early phase of the project has been completed, the Trust is engaging with several potential donors to fund the rest of the renovation project.

It is the challenge of restoring this much needed facility to its former glory that has prospective donors excited.

With remarkable deftness and attention to detail, Norvo Construction has completed the early phases of the renovation and enabled the once gracious building to reveal glimpses of its former beauty, boasting elegant columns, vibrant murals and a majestic bell-tower. 

Knowing our city and understanding the social rubric will inform the UKZN Foundation’s facilitating role in connecting the University with the broader community.

Rudi Kimmie

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Building Foundations with the Chamber of Commerce

Building Foundations with the Chamber of Commerce
Outgoing Durban Chamber of Commerce CEO, Mr Andrew Layman, with the UKZN Foundation Team.

Toenadering, the Afrikaans word for “moving closer”, aptly captures the sentiment at a recent Muffin Morning, where the UKZN Foundation hosted Durban Chamber of Commerce’s outgoing CEO, Mr Andrew Layman.

In his candid presentation, Layman shared his perceptions of the University and stressed the need for the University to engage actively with the KwaZulu-Natal business community.  Opportunities for this, he suggested, included value-adding research to impact social and economic advancement.

He said a potential area of engagement was the maritime sector, since Durban had one of the busiest ports on the African continent.

The Muffin Morning information sharing and engagement forum is proving a valuable platform for interacting with internal and external partners.

To join the conversation, contact Dr Rudi Kimmie at:

Rudi Kimmie

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UKZN Academics Devise New Diagnosis Model

UKZN Academics Devise New Diagnosis Model
Dr Nnabuike Chibuoke Ngene.

Two UKZN Lecturers have developed a new model - the NJ Model - to determine the most appropriate principal diagnosis for a patient with multiple principal diagnoses.

They are Dr Nnabuike Chibuoke Ngene of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Professor Jagidesa Moodley.  Their study is titled: “Assigning Appropriate and Comprehensive Diagnosis for Scientific Report”.

Ngene said assigning one principal diagnosis to a patient with multiple diagnoses tends to conceal the overall clinical condition of such a patient.

‘The use of currently available guidelines such as the International Classification of Diseases' 10th Revision (ICD-10) and its clinical modification  (ICD-10-CM) to assign a principal diagnosis to a patient who has multiple principal diagnoses, appears unreliable,’ he said.

‘This is because these guidelines are complex and use highly subjective criteria.  Even when one main diagnosis is selected, the comprehensive list of other diseases that the patient has is often not reported such that the overall clinical condition of the patient is obscured,’said Ngene.

The study also showed how to report the main principal diagnosis and all other diagnoses when writing a scientific report.

ICD-10 and ICD-10-CM are the criteria generally used to assign one principal diagnosis to a patient with multiple diagnoses.

These already existing / approved guidelines resort to early use of criteria that are subjective. According to Ngene, this makes the main principal diagnosis selected with ICD-10 or ICD-10-CM less reproducible.

He said the NJ model was developed using clinical/pathologic criteria and was therefore likely to generate a more reproducible main principal diagnosis.

According to Ngene the NJ model is a significant breakthrough that may be used to revise ICD-10, which is used internationally. The model was developed using the intuitive abilities of the authors.

Ngene said the model was supported by empirical case reports included in their publication.

‘During data collection for our research among pregnant women admitted to critical care units in public hospitals in Pietermaritzburg, we discovered how difficult it was to use ICD-10 to assign one principal diagnosis to patients with multiple diagnoses,’ he said.

The authors believe the NJ model should be used to revise the ICD-10 and the ICD-10-CM.

Ngene said that assigning the most appropriate/reproducible one principal diagnosis to patients with multiple diagnoses was very important. ‘This will have impact on health policies based on reported frequency of diseases. In addition, by reporting the main principal diagnosis and all other diagnoses of patients in a scientific paper, the overall clinical condition of that patient group will be better described,’ he explained.

Nigerian-born Ngene is a consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

Moodley, an Emeritus Professor at UKZN, is a great teacher, mentor and renowned researcher.

Ngene holds two specialist qualifications in Family Medicine as well as Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He has had papers published in 11 peer reviewed journals in the last two years and does reviews for six international journals.

Nombuso Dlamini

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UKZN Hosts Visiting Scholars

UKZN Hosts Visiting Scholars
Centre for Adult Education Academic Dr Anne Harley with visiting scholar, Professor Lewis Gordon.

The Paulo Freire Project of the Centre for Adult Education at the School of Education on the Pietermaritzburg campus recently hosted three eminent speakers who made presentations on a variety of contemporary issues.

They were Dr Firoze Manji, the Head of Documentation and Information Centre of the Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Professor Aziz Choudry and Visiting Chair in Europhilosophy in the Department of Philosophy at Toulouse University and the Nelson Mandela Visiting Professorship at Rhodes University, Professor Lewis Gordon.

Manji, co-editor of Claim no easy victories: The legacy of Amilcar Cabral, spoke on the legacy of Amilcar Cabral, particularly in relation to education. Manji made references to his book published last year to mark the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Cabral, the revolutionary African thinker and leader.

The book includes contributions from luminaries such as Samir Amin, Angela David, and Lewis Gordon.

Associate Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University in Canada, Choudry delivered a presentation on “NGOization and Social Change: Complicity, Contradictions and Prospects”.

According to Choudry, alongside the rapid proliferation of NGOs in recent decades, NGOization - the professionalization and institutionalisation of social action - has long been a hotly contested issue in grassroots social movements and communities of resistance across the world. 

He considered how this phenomenon impacted on struggles for social and environmental justice.

The seminar was well attended by a very engaged audience of staff and students from different disciplines on the Pietermaritzburg campus, staff from local NGOs, and members of the public.

World-renowned Afro-Jewish Philosopher, Political Thinker, Educator, and Musician, Gordon addressed a packed room of staff and students from numerous disciplines on the Pietermaritzburg campus, as well as from civil society organisations.

He spoke on: “Africana Critical Pedagogy”, focusing on the Africana philosophical influences on Paulo Freire’s thought, critiques raised from Africana existential phenomenological approaches and other pedagogical considerations to consider for practices of emancipatory education.

Discussing the seminars and discussions led by the visiting scholars, Centre for Adult Education Academic Dr Anne Harley said: ‘It has been a pleasure to host speakers of such calibre and repute, continuing the project’s tradition of bringing to the Pietermaritzburg campus fascinating, engaged activist-academics.’

Melissa Mungroo

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College of Humanities Academics Win UKZN Book Prize

College of Humanities Academics Win UKZN Book Prize
Professor Christopher Ballantine and Professor Goolam Vahed both received the 2012/13 UKZN Press Book Prize.

Academics Professor Christopher Ballantine of the School of Arts: Music and Professor Goolam Vahed of the School of Social Sciences, each received the coveted 2012/13 UKZN Book Prize for books they have had published.

Ballantine’s book is titled: Marabi Nights – Jazz, ‘Race’ and Society in Early Apartheid South Africa, while Vahed’s is titled: The Making of a South African Township.

Ballantine won the prize under Category A: Academic Book, and Vahed under Category B: Edited Book award. Both books were published by UKZN Press. 

‘The UKZN Book Prize is a prestigious honour for our authors,’ said Ms Adele Branch of UKZN Press. ‘The number of submissions is huge, especially as there are a lot of academics who publish books via overseas or other local publishers or through departments and other avenues.

‘We are proud of these two titles – they are certainly iconic in the true sense of the word as they address something unique in South Africa, and, although being academic titles, are written in a very accessible style making them attractive to a wide reading audience.’

Ballantine’s book is an updated and substantially expanded second edition of his classic study of the triumphs and tragedies of South Africa’s marabi-jazz tradition. New chapters extend the book’s in-depth account of the birth and development of urban Black popular music.

They include a powerful story about gender relations and music in the context of forced migrant labour in the 1950s, a critical study of the legendary Manhattan Brothers that uniquely positions their music and words in relation to the apartheid system, and an account of the musical, political and commercial strategies of the local record industry.

Asked if his material is taught to music students at UKZN, Ballantine replied: ‘Yes - and not only to music students at UKZN. The book is used in university music departments around the country, and it’s widely prescribed in universities in the UK, the USA and elsewhere. It crops up in non-music programmes, too. The book makes it possible for students – indeed for anyone who is interested in jazz or South African music in general – to become aware of the history and the social meanings of marabi-jazz.’

Vahed’s book, edited with Professor Ashwin Desai, Chatsworth: The Making of a South African Township, brings together the voices of residents of Chatsworth, the “Indian township” created by apartheid’s planners in 1960.

Film Director, Author and Actor Naresh Veeran is among those who share their memories of Chatsworth. He says the stories in the book are about the establishment of Chatsworth and how people remade their lives there. ‘Many of the chapters are about the everyday lives of people and their memories and experiences of life in Chatsworth, both during the apartheid era and in the post-apartheid period where many continue to live on the margins.’

The book is targeted at an academic audience, residents and former residents of Chatsworth, and those interested in diaspora and the history of South Africa during the apartheid era and transitions in the post-apartheid period.

Vahed said his book was an edited collection which brought together the work of almost 20 contributors, many of them from UKZN.

‘This took a lot of hard work, including logistical and communication problems. The end result is a book that we are all proud of.  I must express thanks and appreciation to the UKZN Press’ team of Sally Hines, Debra Primo and Louis Gaigher for their encouragement and for accommodating our many requests. They went beyond what was required of them. I would also like to thank the various contributors, my co-editor Ashwin Desai and the people of Chatsworth who so willingly gave of their time and shared their memories.’

The books are available from Exclusive Books, Adams, Amazon, and Loot and Kalahari, among other outlets.

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Impi Back on Rugby Warpath

UKZN Impi Back on Rugby Warpath
UKZN rugby coach Ryan Strudwick “oversees” his charges in the Garden of Hope.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s rugby side, the UKZN Impi, kicks off its 2015 Varsity Shield campaign with a televised fixture against the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town on Monday, 2 February.

The full list of fixtures involving the Impi side, announced by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and Varsity Cup (Pty) Ltd, is as follows: 

2 February 4.45pm: UWC (UWC Sports Stadium, Cape Town)

9 February 6.30pm: Tshwane UniTech (Peter Booysen Park, Pietermaritzburg)

16 February 6.30pm: WITS (Peter Booysen Park, Pietermaritzburg)

23 February 6.30pm: Fort Hare (Davidson Rugby Stadium, Alice)

2 March 6.30pm UWC (Howard College, Durban)

9 March 6.30pm Tshwane UniTech (TUT Stadium, Pretoria)

16 March 6.30pm WITS (Wits Rugby Stadium, Johannesburg)

30 March 6.30pm: Fort Hare (Howard College, Durban)

UKZN rugby players took a break from their exams and training schedule to spend a day working in the Garden of Hope at the Jes Foord Foundation’s Rape Crisis Centre in Mariannhill, outside Durban. The Rape Crisis Centre was recently in the media spotlight when it was forced to close its doors after burglars ransacked the facility. 

Rape survivor and foundation patron, Jes Foord was on hand to meet the UKZN players and outline the work done at the facility.  

The Impi have supported the Foundation’s crisis centres as their charity for the past three years, and funds accumulated during the Varsity Shield’s “pink ball tries” initiative are donated to the foundation. 

Ms Trish Buchanan, Project Manager at the Foundation, was appreciative of the help the students put in: ‘Thank you so much to the young men who came to work in our Garden of Hope on Saturday, it was a huge help.  We are looking forward to working with the team in 2015.’

Mark Schulze

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Long Service Awards

Long Service Awards
The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Awardees in Durban.

Long service awards were handed out to staff of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science on both the Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses.

Family and friends of award-winning staff members joined in the celebration as the College acknowledged service periods of 15 years, 25 years, 35 years, and 36 years and more as well as retirement.

A total of 42 staff members received awards while 14 were acknowledged on their retirement.

The event was opened by Professor Deo Jaganyi who thanked staff for the loyal service before the presentation of gifts and certificates.

Line managers detailed the service history of the long-serving staff members.

The nine staff members with service totalling 36 years or more were Professor Bala Pillay, Mrs Dolly Sivasamy, Mrs Vasanthie Brijlal, Mr Pat Suthan, Mrs Zarina Sayed Ally, Mr Basil Alexander, Dr Yogis Naidoo, Professor Mike Savage and Mr Ravin Sivraman.

After the formalities, guests enjoyed a light meal and refreshments.

Dr Yogis Naidoo said: ‘I wish to thank the University of KwaZulu-Natal for recognising and acknowledging staff for long service. Thank you for a well organised function.’

            Leena Rajpal

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School of Chemistry and Physics Magic Show Wows Audience!

School of Chemistry and Physics Magic Show Wows Audience!
Professor Bice Martincigh, Dr Bernard Owaga and Professor Vincent Nyamori and the team behind the Great Magic Show.

UKZN’s Three Magicians Show puts sparkle into learning and helps the less informed see the light!

The magic trio comprises School of Chemistry and Physics (SCP) academics: Professor Vincent Nyamori, Dr Bernard Owaga and Professor Bice Martincigh.

In a tradition started in the early 1980s by Professor Mike Laing, the KwaZulu-Natal section of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI) puts on a magic show for UKZN students, staff and the public towards the end of every year.

In the early days it featured women being magically “cut in half”, a rabbit popping out of a box and all kinds of other extraordinary things.

In the contemporary version, the chemicals, equipment as well as the technical support are provided by the UKZN School of Chemistry and Physics. The aim of the magic show is to entertain - and inform - learners and the general public using the marvels of Chemistry and Science.  

The event is co-ordinated by the KwaZulu-Natal Section of SACI with the assistance of the technical staff of the SCP and postgraduate students from WestChem, the School’s postgraduate student’s society.  UKZN and SACI-KZN sponsor the prizes and refreshments.

In the most recent show, the Three Magicians performed a number of “mind-blowing” experiments including turning wine into milk and beer and ended the show with fireworks and smoke that dazzled the audience.

Magician Mr Peter Warby, who also performed at the event, said: ‘In my show you are not allowed to blink because in the moment you do, you miss the magic.’ He impressed the audience with several magic acts and was ably assisted by children from the audience.

The show ended with the making of “magical” ice cream by WestChem students.

Martincigh said: ‘We were particularly pleased with the enthusiasm of the audience.  It made the show particularly worthwhile. The Magic Show has been performed at the University for over 35 years entertaining young and old.  We hope to continue “dazzling” the audience with the magic of science for many years to come!’

Professor Vincent Nyamori said: ‘This event, which is always free, is full of wonders and rich with amusement.  The smiles and laughter tell it all.’

Owaga said: ‘It’s wonderful to perform in front of parents and their kids. Every child in the audience wanted to be part of the show – it was amazing.’

A member of the audience, Mrs Neervana Rambaran, said: ‘The magic show was a delightful event. Both my children were enthralled and loved the sweets and gifts.  A big thank you to the School of Chemistry and Physics for an exciting and educational show.’

Leena Rajpal

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UKZN Bids Farewell to Professor Malegapuru Makgoba

UKZN Bids Farewell to Professor Malegapuru Makgoba
UKZN renamed the Administration Building at Westville campus after its founding Vice-Chancellor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal bid farewell to its founding Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, at a year-end UKZN Council dinner held at the Maharani Hotel in Durban.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, Professor Renuka Vithal, directed the programme and looked back on Makgoba's decade of achievements and struggles, highlighting the leading role he played in Higher Education and science globally.

In recognising his contribution to the University, Chair of Council, Mrs Phumla Mnganga, commended him for fighting a good fight and finishing the race ahead of his peers.

'You have infused UKZN with an understanding of African Scholarship - the understanding that African scholarship must engage with the global knowledge systems on its own terms.'

Keynote speaker and Chair of the National Research Foundation, Professor Loyiso Nongxa, described Makgoba as humble, shy and brave.

Wishing him well on his retirement, Nongxa said: 'We look forward to your next contribution to this country of ours.' Nongxa congratulated the University on its achievements over the past 10 years.

Reflecting on his life, career and his time at UKZN, Makgoba said the love and care a person received from others was what made them successful in life. He grew up with love from his family, from people in his village and from his friends.

Makgoba acknowledged the three Chairs of Council he had served under. He thanked the founding UKZN Chair of Council, Dr Vincent Maphai, for teaching him how to think; Mr Mac Mia for teaching him how to govern, and the current Chair, Mrs  Mnganga, for teaching him how to be human. 

Makgoba said the role of the Council was to appoint the Vice-Chancellor and not to micro manage the person.  'I hope that tradition stays. You select the Vice-Chancellor and support him.’ 

He thanked members of Executive Management for their hard work and also the Student Representative Council and SASCO who convinced him to come back to South Africa and gave him a 'clear mandate' of transformation.

'For me the most important thing about being a Vice-Chancellor of any University is to be able to love students and be there for them.’ 

It was announced at the dinner that the administration building on the Westville campus has been named the MW Makgoba Administration Building and a plaque unveiled recording that.

It was also announced that the Malegapuru Makgoba Lecture would be held annually at UKZN.

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Quantum Dynamics Workshop held on Pietermaritzburg Campus

Quantum Dynamics Workshop held on Pietermaritzburg Campus
Physics staff and students with visiting academics from London institutions, the Imperial College and Brunel University.

A mini workshop on the topic of Quantum Dynamics and non-Hermitian Hamiltonians was held on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

Hosted by Dr Alessandro Sergi of the Physics Cluster in the School of Chemistry and Physics, the workshop featured guests from London’s Brunel University and the Imperial College as well as UKZN delegates who held seminars and gave input on the topic and the challenges it presents to scientists.

The workshop aimed to join the expertise of researchers at the Imperial College London and in the Physics Cluster of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, with especial focus on the discussion of problems currently faced by scientists in the computer simulation of quantum dynamics (in the presence of disorder) and in the use of non-Hermitian Hamiltonians.

According to Sergi, quantum theory is the key for understanding the microcosm: high-energy particle physics, chemical bonds and phase of condensed matter.

‘All these phenomena can, in general, be understood by means of such a theory,’ said Sergi. ‘Historically, quantum mechanics was created in order to describe systems in isolation from sources of disorder (thermal and otherwise), which almost inevitably lead to dissipative effects. For such isolated systems, the energy values obtained from quantum theory are represented by real numbers. However, since the dawn of quantum mechanics, the famous Russian Physicist Lev Landau, one of the last polymaths, proposed the use of complex energy values (which, in the mathematical theory, arise from so called non-Hermitian Hamiltonians) in order to describe disintegration processes. From these shy beginnings, nowadays, non-Hermitian Hamiltonians are becoming one of the most efficient theoretical tools to investigate dissipative processes in condensed matter.’

During the three-day workshop, particular attention was given to the cross-fertilisation between the fields of computer simulation and quantum dynamics described by non-Hermitian Hamiltonians. The workshop format allowed the group of lecturers, professors and postdoctoral researchers to engage in intensive discussion and activities on the subject and included brain-storming sessions and practical work after the oral presentations.

Speakers at the workshop included Dr Eva-Maria Graefe of the Imperial College; Professor Dorje Brody, Chair in Mathematics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Brunel University, and Dr Daniel Uken of the UKZN Physics Cluster in Pietermaritzburg.

Graefe, who is working on the development of a semi-classical framework for non-Hermitian quantum theories, has a research background in theoretical quantum dynamics in the context of atomic physics, and in the description of ultracold atoms and Bose-Einstein condensates. In this context, she has been working on non-Hermitian and PT-symmetric quantum theories, semi-classical methods and quantum chaos.

Brody’s research covers a broad range of topics in applied mathematics, from quantum gravity to financial mathematics. He is on the advisory panel for the Journal of Physics and the editorial board for the International Journal of Theoretical and Applied Finance.

Uken is an expert in the methods of simulation of nonadiabatic effects. Currently, he holds an NRF postdoctoral bursary in the research group led by Sergi. This group comprises an NRF C3 postdoctoral researcher, Dr Zloshchastiev; PhD students, Mr Nkosinathi Dlamini, Mr Emmanuel Obaga and Mr Sashwin Sewran, and MSc student, Derrick Beckedahl, all of whom are performing advanced research on numerical methods for the computer simulation of quantum dynamics.

The group had the opportunity to interact with Graefe and Brody during the workshop in order to establish a scientific collaboration on the topics discussed.

Sergi, who extended an invitation to the workshop to all members of UKZN’s School of Chemistry and Physics, hopes that the event can become a regular, fully-fledge workshop in future.

Christine Cuénod and Alessandro Sergi

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Is HIV Losing its Bite?

Is HIV Losing its Bite?
HIV Pathogenesis Programme laboratory members who were part of the work for the study.

HIV’s grip on the world is weakening, say scientists from UKZN, the University of Oxford as well as leading institutions in the United States, Japan and Botswana, who collaborated on a scientific study.

Findings in the study, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, clearly indicate that the HI virus is evolving into a much milder form due to the introduction of antiretrovirals (ARVs) as well as the natural adaptation of the immune system to the virus.

Co-author of the study, UKZN’s Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, who is also an investigator at the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV and the Victor Daitz Chair in TB and HIV, said: ‘We investigated the impact on HIV virulence of HIV adaptation to HLA molecules that protect against disease progression by analysing cohorts in Botswana and in Durban. Our findings indicate that in Botswana, where the epidemic started earlier, the viral replicative capacity is lower. These data suggest that the virus is evolving to a much milder form.’

Lowering of the viral replication capacity is also attributed to the effects of ARVs. One of the most successful public health interventions ever undertaken has been the provision of combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) to more than 6.2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Frank Tanser, a research Professor in UKZN’s College of Health Sciences at the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies which is based in a rural community in northern KwaZulu-Natal severely affected by HIV, recently published a study in the journal Science which received substantial international recognition. The study found that the HIV epidemic could be reversed through increasing coverage of ART bringing about a decreased risk of onward transmission of HIV.  

Ndung’u says the new study provides some mechanistic explanation for the observations made in the previous Tanser study that ARVs were forcing HIV to evolve into milder forms. ‘Our study showed that the drugs primarily target the nastiest versions of HIV and encourage the milder ones to thrive. Our study also found that in Botswana, where 20 years ago the progression to AIDS following infection was 10 years, the period has now increased to 12.5 years given the increase in ARV roll-out and the adaptation of the virus to the immune system.’

Professor Jonathan Ball, a Virologist at the University of Nottingham, remarked: ‘If the trend continues then we might see the global picture change - a longer disease causing much less transmission. In theory, if we were to let HIV run its course then we would see a human population emerge that was more resistant to the virus than we collectively are today - HIV infection would eventually become almost harmless.’

The scientists however warned that even milder forms of HIV can lead to AIDS and cautioned the public to remember that HIV was still dangerous.

MaryAnn Francis

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Uhlelo Lwezokubelethisa Luphothulwe Ngokuyimpumelelo

Uhlelo Lwezokubelethisa Luphothulwe Ngokuyimpumelelo
Behlangene Bonke Lapha (Emuva) Usolwazi Mariam Adhikari; (Kusukela Ngakwesokunxele) Usolwazi Slotow, Unkz Shanti Ramkilowan, Usolwazi Gugu Mchunu, Mrs Thandiwe Ndebele Nosolwazi Busisiwe Ncama.

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Uhlelo lwase-UKZN olubizwa nge-Healthy Mother and Healthy Babies by Empowering Midwives Project seluphothuliwe ngokusho konguMqondisi wohlelo uNkz Thandi Ndebele.

Lo msebenzi weminyaka emihlanu e-UKZN bewuhlinzeka ababelethisayo ngamakhono asezingeni eliphezulu kuhloswe ukuqinisa ezokunakekela uma kubelethiswa KwaZulu-Natal njengoba kuliwa ne-HIV/AIDS.

UNdebele uthe: ‘Lo msebenzi unikeze amakhono aphezulu ngokuqeqesha uphinde ufundise ababelethisayo ukuze bakwazi ukunakelela ngokufanele futhi basekele abesifazane ababelethayo nemindeni yabo kubalwa nalabo abanegciwane le-HIV.’

UNdebele uthe ephendula iphuzu mayelana nezinga eliphezulu lokufa uma kubelethwa KwaZulu-Natal, isikole kwezobuHlengikazi nezeMpilo yoMphakathi sibambisene noMnyango wezeMpilo baqale ukuqeqeshwa kwababelethisi ababhalisiwe abasezindaweni ezisemakhaya ukuze bathuthuke babe ababelethisi abasezingeni eliphezulu ukuze kuthuthuke nezinga lokunakekelwa kwabesifazane.

Lolu hleo oluphethwe isikole sezobuHlengikazi e-UKZN neBhodi Eyalulekayo banikezele ngeziqu kubabelethisi abangama-239 kanti kusalindeleke abanye abangama-104.

Lo msebenzi ubuxhaswe yi-Atlantic Foundation – Atlantic Philantropies.

‘Uhlelo lokwenza lo msebenzi lwaqala ngokuthuthukiswa kohlelo lokuzofundwa esigabeni sokubelethisa esiphezulu ngoba kuhloswe ukuxhumanisa ulwazi namakhono adingekayo ukuze kuvikelwe futhi kwelashwe  i-HIV kwabesifazane ababelethayo nezinye izidingo zokunakekela,’ kusho uNdebele.

Nombuso Dlamini

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