10 May 2024
Volume: 12
Issue: 11
UKZN’s ACCI plant breeding PhD graduates, from left: Dr Armel Rouamba; Dr Nomathemba Majola; supervisor, Professor Hussein Shimelis; Dr Saul Eric Mwale; Dr Richard Ngwepe; and right, Dr Silindile Mkhabela.

PhD Graduates Boost Africa’s Plant Breeding Expertise

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UKZN’s African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI) is celebrating the accomplishments of five PhD graduates representing three African countries and five different crops who have investigated how to enhance the traits of their chosen crops to resist disease, tolerate drought, respond to biocontrol agents, and provide better yield and nutritional quality.

Dr Jane Akob and Dr Christopher Apana Akob congratulate the new doctor in the house, daughter Dr Faith Akob.

Knowledge of Nutrition in Cameroon Expanded

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Dr Faith Akob focused her PhD in Human Nutrition on filling a gap in nutrition knowledge in Cameroon by improving understanding of nutritional patterns, nutritional status and areas in need of intervention.

Mr Celuxolo Dlamini prepares his drone equipped with smart sensors used to calculate and predict maize yield.

A Doctorate by the Age of 25 - Goal of Environmental Science Student!

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Mr Celuxolo Dlamini (23) is well on his way to achieving his goal of a PhD by the age of 25 after being awarded a cum laude Master’s Degree in Environmental Science for using remotely sensed data from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones and machine learning techniques to predict maize yield.

Ecological Sciences PhD graduate, Dr Nasiphi Bitani.

PhD Graduate Explores Bird Life’s Response to Forest Destruction

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Gaining an understanding of how bird populations respond to the land-use changes experienced by their forest system habitats, specifically the Southern Mistbelt Forest of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, was the focus of Dr Nasiphi Bitani’s research.

Mammalian ecologist, Dr Craig Cordier.

Camera Trap Research Culminates in Doctorate for Mammalian Ecologist

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Dr Craig Cordier’s PhD demonstrated the value of camera traps as a research tool for understanding human impact on forest mammalian communities and capturing data on the activities of rare and elusive species.

Dr Gemma Gerber.

Study of Estuarine Ecosystem Modelling Earns PhD

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Dr Gemma Gerber secured a PhD in Biological Sciences for her thesis titled: Ecosystem Indicator Assessment: Incorporating Uncertainty into Estuarine Ecosystem Models.

Agricultural extension researcher, Dr Sesetu Nyeleka.

Participatory Videos Used to Empower Smallholder Farmers’ Knowledge Sharing

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Dr Sesetu Nyeleka’s PhD in Agricultural Extension used a participatory video approach to develop farmers’ soft skills and encourage peer-to-peer learning to expand farmers’ knowledge while equipping them with new skills to share their knowledge.

Dr Amanda Gumede with supervisor, Professor Urmilla Bob (left) and grandmother, Ms Joesephine Zwane.

Lecturer’s PhD Research Expands Knowledge of Durban Community’s Waste Management

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An interest in climate change mitigation and engaging with communities motivated Dr Amanda Gumede, a Geography lecturer at UKZN, to conduct a comprehensive audit of household waste management practices within the Bluff area in Durban for her PhD, in order to assess sustainability considerations and inform future intervention strategies.

Agricultural economist, Ms Ongama Giwu.

Economic Assessment of Youth in Agriculture Achieves Cum Laude Master’s Degree

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Ms Ongama Giwu’s Masters in Agricultural Economics research explored youth participation in agricultural enterprises, a topic that inspired her as she recognises the importance of the agricultural sector in South Africa’s economic growth and development.

Ms Busile Lukhele’s passion for food security has earned her a Master’s degree.

Swazi Teacher’s Master’s Explores Digital Technology for Enhanced Food Security

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Ms Busile Lukhele’s Master’s in Food Security is a celebration not only because the high school agriculture teacher from Eswatini overcame starting her studies during the COVID-19 pandemic and extended delays to her field research but because it brings her closer to her goal of improving food security for those from poverty-stricken backgrounds.

Cum laude Master’s in Horticulture graduate Mr Siphokuhle Mbuyisa is congratulated by his aunt, Ms Thandazile Ntimbane (left) and mother, Ms Fundile Makwakwa.

Reducing Use of Agrochemicals Motivates Cum Laude Master’s Graduate

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Mr Siphokuhle Mbuyisa attained a cum laude Master’s in Horticultural Science degree for investigating how plant extracts could enhance the growth, development, yield and post-harvest quality and shelf-life of potatoes.

Biochemist Dr Lorenzo David.

PhD Biochemist Searches for Improved Cervical Cancer Drug Delivery System

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Dr Lorenzo David was awarded a PhD in Biochemistry for his assessment of transferrin-tagged palladium and gold-palladium nanoparticles and their potential for anticancer drug delivery.

UKZN Hydrology lecturer and climate change expert Dr Simphiwe Ngcobo.

Hydrology Lecturer’s PhD Builds Knowledge about Climate Variability’s Effects on Sugarcane

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Dr Simphiwe Ngcobo’s PhD assessed the impacts of climate variability on commercial sugarcane across South Africa and unpacked the delicate and complex balance between sustainable water resources management and increased production of high-value commodity crops.

Cum laude microbiologist, Ms Sonali Sukreem.

Microbiologist Seeks New Ways to Treat Drug-Resistant Bacteria

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A thesis investigating the bioactivity of crude biosurfactant extracts and biosurfactant-capped nanoparticles synthesised using marine sponge-associated bacteria resulted in Ms Sonali Sukreem being awarded her Master’s degree in Microbiology cum laude.