East Coast Algae Under the Microscope in Master’s Research
Ms Judie Magura graduated with an MSc in Chemistry (cum laude) degree after investigating and analysing the biochemical properties of selected seaweeds from the east coast of South Africa.
Magura assessed the toxicity risks associated with consumption of seaweed, with one of her notable findings being that consumption of edible seaweed Sargassum elegans could significantly increase dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic. Long-term exposure to arsenic can cause adverse health conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Her study was not limited to one type of seaweed. Magura said it was interesting that although there were about 270 species along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, the average local she encountered was not aware of what seaweed was.
Magura found that some species were highly nutritious, and hopes her research will add to the knowledge of the chemical composition and benefits of the seaweed.
‘Judie is an extremely dedicated student who was steadfast in her commitment to achieving her master’s degree in the minimum possible time and with flying colours,’ said Dr Roshila Moodley. ‘As her supervisors, we are extremely proud of her.’
Magura hopes to pursue a career in laboratory research in the food or drug industry, and plans to study for her PhD. She was drawn to studying Chemistry because she found it a fascinating science that permeates everyday life.
‘When frying an egg, Chemistry explains why the pan is non-stick; when washing clothes, Chemistry explains how the detergent cleans your clothes,’ said Magura. ‘To me, it is a science I can relate to because I can see it right in my home.’
Magura, originally from Zimbabwe, gave credit to her husband Joe and children Israel and Sophia for their love and support, and said her supervisors, Professor Sreekantha Jonnalagadda and Dr Moodley, and colleagues encouraged her throughout her research.
A deeply spiritual person, Magura said that the Holy Spirit made her feel limitless in achieving her goals. She advised other students to set short-term goals and work hard to achieve them in order to do well.