Research Excellence the Priority for College of Health Sciences DRILL Leadership Team
The Developing Research Innovation, Localisation and Leadership in South Africa (DRILL) leadership team at UKZN’s College of Health Sciences (CHS) has been awarded a competitive US National Institutes of Health, Fogarty International Center (NIH/FIC) grant.
DRILL’s programme seeks to produce and retain the next generation of highly skilled, local health science researchers equipped with the necessary skills to respond to South Africa’s multiple healthcare challenges. Its aim is to elevate knowledge production to a new level through mentoring, development and training.
Recently a series of training workshops were held at Coastlands Hotel and the Elangeni Hotel in Durban. A writing workshop aimed at imparting writing skills in the production of impactful articles, understanding the importance of visual story-telling and the use of social media, was held for DRILL Fellows.
Presenting scientific research in a popular style is important for researchers to ensure that their work is disseminated widely and reaches audiences beyond the academic sector.
The use of social media networks (i.e. Twitter, blogs, Facebook) is gaining traction within academia and it is important for young, up-and-coming researchers to learn how to use these platforms to further their careers and individual professional brands. DRILL Fellow, Dr Jacobus Hendriks of the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Science, in the DRILL HIV/AIDS research theme area, said: ‘The workshop was interesting for me and I can’t wait to see the feedback for my first popular article. This will help me in future to be able to write my abstract in a simpler style.’
The workshop was facilitated by Mr Robert Inglis of Jive Media Africa which specialises in innovative science communication and engagement, bridging the gap between science and the public.
Supervising young researchers, while maintaining one’s own research focus can be challenging. In many cases, the DRILL Fellows may have problems conceptualising the central themes of their projects, making it hard for them to see the direction and decisions they need to make during the research process.
The Research Wheel workshop was facilitated over two sessions by Professor Michael Samuel of the School of Education. The sessions provided the Fellows with a toolkit to use in their supervision sessions.
Dr Varsha Bangalee of the School of Health Sciences in the Health Systems Strengthening research theme area, said: ‘Professor Michael’s chart has helped me get clarity.’
Samuel created the innovative toolkit that can be used by both postgraduate students and their supervisors to facilitate a better working relationship.
To conclude the month, a dinner was organised for the DRILL team and Fellows, providing an opportune time to become better acquainted. Principal Investigator Professor Fatima Suleman of the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, opened the evening asking fellows to see the dinner as a reflective session, where they could reflect on where they are in the programme.
Each Fellow had an opportunity to share their experiences of the past nine months. Dr Lihle Qulu of the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, who is in the Mental Health research theme area, felt that time to reflect was important. ‘A human being who lacks refection is very stagnant and will not be successful,’ said Qulu.
Another DRILL Fellow, Dr Bongani Nkambule of the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, who is in the HIV/AIDS research theme area said: ‘Often researchers are embedded in limited silos and the great thing about DRILL is meeting people from the same Discipline who you probably would never have met.’
The closing remarks by Suleman, reflected the core values of the DRILL programme. She urged the Fellows to fully embrace the opportunity, commit themselves to their development and to remember that everywhere they went, they represented themselves, DRILL, and the University, and to always put their best foot forward.
Words by: Lungelo Khanyile