School of Life Sciences Hosts Postgraduate Research Day
The School of Life Sciences hosted their 2nd Annual Research Day on the Westville campus.
The event was co-ordinated and organised by a committee of 15 postgraduate students from the School under the supervision of Postgraduate Research and Higher Degree Committee members.
The event provided postgraduate students with a platform to showcase their research work through mediums of poster and oral presentations but was also an opportunity for students to engage and network with colleagues, academics and external visitors.
Sponsors included the School of Life Sciences; College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science; Inqaba Biotech; Capital Lab Supplies CC; Zeiss; Whitehead Scientific (Pty) Ltd; Adams Booksellers and Stationers; Sherwood Books; Sweet Nothings; United Scientific (Polychem); Premier Books; Industricord; Bio-Rad and Celtic Diagnostics.
The programme kicked off with a warm welcome by the Dean and Head of School: Life Sciences, Professor Sam Mukaratirwa, who acknowledged and expressed appreciation to all sponsors and organising members for their contribution to the Research Day.
Mukaratirwa said: ‘This is the second Research Day for the School of Life Sciences since the reconfiguration of the College and follows a successful one held at the Pietermaritzburg campus in 2012. Our School Research Day focuses on dissemination, engagement and impact of postgraduate research activities through a show case of posters and a series of presentations.
‘This event gives the postgraduate students the opportunity to disseminate their research findings, engage with their peers and the wider research community and demonstrate the wider impact of their research.’
The 21 student oral presentations were delivered in three sessions. ‘The oral presentations showcased the groundbreaking work of postgraduate students in a variety of disciplines,’ said Co-Chair of the Organising Committee, Ms Jerusha Naidoo.
The guest lecture was delivered by UKZN alumnus Dr Nomakwezi Mzilikazi who is Head of the Graduate Support Hub at the University of Pretoria. Mzilikazi spoke on: “The Pros and Cons of an Academic Research Career”, in which she highlighted the activities of a career in academia based on her personal experience.
Said Mzilikazi ‘It is critical for postgraduate students to start making choices today that are in line with where they want to be 10 – 15 years from now. A successful academic research career does not happen by chance, it requires careful planning.’
After an exhaustive discussion by the judges, the winners were announced
First Prize: Mr Tendekai Mahlanza: In vitro mutagenesis and selection of Fusarium sacchari-tolerant sugar-cane plants for biological control of Eldana saccharina.
Second Prize: Ms Londiwe Magagula: Alternative fodder sources to save natural grasslands: The effect of bioslurry on Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) production.
Third Prize: Ms Lauren Eyssen: Identification and recombinant expression of a putative metacaspase 5 gene in T. congolense.
First Prize: Ms Roxanne Wheeler: The effects of a cigarette carcinogen on glucocorticoid receptor methylation.
Second Prize: Ms Samantha Naidoo: Haematological and genotoxic responses in an urban adapter, the banana bat, foraging at wastewater treatment works.
Third Prize: Mr Provain Kistnasamy: Responses of selected pre-treatments on the cuticular surface of recalcitrant Trichilia dregeana embryonic axes.
Dr Celia Synman (Biochemistry) said: ‘The Postgraduate Research Day showed the calibre of research being done by the current young generation of scientists. The topics ranged from issues pertaining to diabetes, to improved fodder generation for new farmers and distribution of the genetic gene pool for bats around Madagascar. Participation in such events hones the skill of presentation and should be a key achievement of any postgraduate’.
- Leena Rajpal