SIX UKZN WOMEN SCIENTISTS SCOOP NATIONAL DST AWARDS

SIX UKZN WOMEN SCIENTISTS SCOOP NATIONAL DST AWARDS

Six UKZN women scientists received several national awards in various categories at the prestigious annual Department of Science and Technology’s Women in Science Awards (WISA). The announcement was made by Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor for outstanding scientific contributions to advance science and build the knowledge base in their respective disciplines. The awards are made annually to recognise and reward the achievements of South African women scientists. “WISA winners are profiled as role models for younger scientists and researchers,” said Minister Pandor.

Awards in the following categories were made to:


Professor Relebohile Moletsane, the winner of the Distinguished Women Scientists: Social Sciences and Humanities

 
 
Professor Relebohile Moletsane received her primary and secondary education in rural schools in the Eastern Cape (the then Transkei) and an undergraduate degree at the University of Fort Hare.  Her PhD is from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA and was obtained in 1996.

She is currently a professor and JL Dube Chair in Rural Education in the School of Education. She has extensive experience in teaching and research in the areas of curriculum studies and gender and education, HIV and Aids education and girlhood studies in southern African contexts. Her methodological interests include the use of participatory visual methodologies in doing research and development work with marginalized groups. She is working on a project which uses digital story-telling with teachers (Through the eyes of women teachers: Indigenous knowledge systems and teaching in rural schools in the age of AIDS) and has published several articles and book chapters on using digital technology and digital storytelling in rural communities, including celphilms, short videos, and photo- documentaries and photo narratives. She is also the co-author (with Claudia Mitchell, Ann Smith and Linda Chisholm) of the book Methodologies for Mapping a Southern African Girlhood in Age of Aids, a co-editor (with Kathleen Pithouse and Claudia Mitchell) of the 2009 book Making Connections: Self-Study & Social Action and the lead editor (with Claudia Mitchell and Ann Smith) of a 2012 book called Was it Something I Wore? Dress, Identity, and Materiality.


Professor Sarojini Nadar winner in the Distinguished Young Women Scientists: Social Sciences and Humanities

Professor Sarojini Nadar completed her PhD at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in 2003 at the age of 27. She was recently appointed as UKZN’s College of Humanities’ Dean of Research, and she is an Associate Professor in the Gender and Religion Programme at the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics.

Coming from a working class background, her road to academic success was not an easy one. The youngest of seven children, she was the only one in her family to finish high school and go to university. Her experience of childhood sexual abuse sparked her research interest in gender-based violence, particularly the role of systems such as religion in either maintaining and promoting such violence, or preventing it. Professor Nadar has researched and published widely in the field of feminist biblical hermeneutics, with a special focus on HIV and Aids; gender-based violence; masculinity and sexuality. She also has a special interest in studying and developing theories of feminism in Africa.

She received the University Research Award for Top Published Woman Researcher (2009), and she was also among the Top 30 Researchers at UKZN in 2010. In 2008, she was profiled as one of the leading South African women in her field in the Mail & Guardian Book of South African Women. The book African Women, Religion, and Health: Essays in Honour of Mercy Amba Oduyoye (New York, NY: Orbis Books, 2006), co-edited with Isabel Phiri, apart from winning an international award, was also awarded the 2006 UKZN Annual Book Prize for Best Edited Book. Nadar is an NRF-rated scholar, has co-edited five books and published more than 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals and more than 15 chapters in books. She is an editor of the Journal of Gender and Religion in Africa, the only academic journal in Africa which focuses on the interface between gender and religion.  She sits on several international journal editorial boards including, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, based at Harvard University in the US, as well as Women's Studies International Forum, based in the UK.


Dr Sengeziwe Sibeko, first runner-up in the category Awards for the Development of Rural Women: Emerging Researchers

Dr Sengeziwe Sibeko is a Specialist Obstetrician and Gynecologist who obtained medical qualifications at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. She received the prestigious Columbia University Southern African Fogarty Aids international training and research programme fellowship and completed her Master of Science in epidemiology degree at Columbia University, New York, in 2009.

She is an Oxford Nuffield Medical Fellow based at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom where she is registered for a PhD in HIV mucosal immunology of the female reproductive tract. Prior to Oxford, she worked as a clinician scientist based at the Center for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (Caprisa) at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, while employed as a consultant gynecologist at Mahatma Gandhi Hospital. At Caprisa she was the study gynecologist on the landmark multi-award-winning tenofovir gel trial, and led the development and implementation of its contraceptive counselling curriculum in addition to designing all its clinical aspects. 

Sibeko has co-authored 16 peer reviewed articles in publications including Science and is a member of 11 scientific committees, including the World Health Organization’s contraceptive and HIV task force.

Sibeko’s research interests are in the betterment of women’s health, especially with regards to the HIV/Aids epidemic. Her specific interests include understanding biological mechanisms responsible for increased HIV acquisition risk in women for the ultimate purpose of development of an effective HIV preventive strategy in the form of either a microbicide or vaccine.

Dr Joyce Chitja, the second runner-up in the category Award for the Development of Rural Women: Emerging Researchers

Dr Joyce Chitja holds a PhD in Food Security, an MSoc Sci in Community Resource Management and a BSc Agric in Horticultural Science. She is currently a lecturer in the School for Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences at UKZN, a council member of the Agricultural Research Council and board member of the Agricultural Development Agency in KwaZulu-Natal. Her research areas include food security in relation to smallholder farmer market access and value chains; water-use security, rural livelihoods and vulnerability; gender and agriculture; organic farming production, land use security and reform.  She served on the Umgungundlovu Further Education and Training Council and on the board of the KwaZulu-Natal Farmers Union, representing UKZN. Chitja chaired the food sovereignty and food value chain with MIDI and Msunduzi Municipality (APPE)

She has been a visiting scholar at Cornell University in the United States of America and has presented her research findings and concluded study missions in Australia, Italy, California, Kenya and Brazil. She has supervised 17 post-graduate students at Master’s and honours level, has been awarded over R4-million in research grants her publication record includes seven peer-reviewed journal articles, three book chapters and one technical report. Her focus is on establishing a robust community engagement research approach and programme where student research questions and the research laboratory are embedded in the rural smallholder farming communities.


Ms Prudy Mashika Manoko Seepe in the DST Fellowships Doctoral Studies category

Ms Prudy Manoko Mashika Seepe is a PhD student in the Discipline of Occupational and Environmental Health in the Traditional Medicine Laboratory at the College of Health Sciences. She received her Master’s degree in Medical Biochemistry at the Centre of Excellence for Tuberculosis Research at the University of Stellenbosch. Her research interest is in African traditional medicine and its possible efficacy against KwaZulu-Natal tuberculosis strains, through good and strong relations build with local herbalists known to have expertise in treating or managing tuberculosis using herbs. She believes it would be useful to use science to evaluate traditional medicines that may be of benefit in the fight against the disease. Mashika has presented a paper in her area of work at the 3rd South African Tuberculosis Conference, and has received an award for her presentation at the Medical Research Council Research Day. She has participated in the fourth Indigenous Knowledge Systems Expo, where she was involved in teaching learners on the importance of science in indigenous knowledge research.


Ms Bongiwe Goodness Ndlovu in the DST Fellowships for Doctoral Studies category

Ms Bongiwe Goodness Ndlovu received her Master of Medical Science (MMedSc) degree in pediatrics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal this year. She is currently enrolled for a PhD in Medical Virology in the HIV Pathogenesis Programme at the Doris Duke Medical Research Institute, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine. She is a developmental lecturer in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences at the University. Ndlovu’s research is on stopping HIV spread among South African adults and mother-infant pairs using both innate and adaptive immune mechanisms. Currently, she is focusing on the evolution of humoral immune responses in acute and early HIV-1 subtype C infections. Her aim is to determine the timing of emergence, patterns of breadth and specificity and to characterise the evolution of anti-HIV binding antibody subclasses, from the time of infection to 3 years post-infection. This information is required to develop novel strategies for HIV vaccine development that exploits mechanisms of broadly neutralising antibodies. As a Master’s student she found that the HLA-Cw*04:01 allele was associated with susceptibility to mother-to-child acquisition of HIV infection. In 2010, she was awarded the TATA Africa Scholarship and a Columbia University-South African Forgarty Scholarship for training in HIV/Aids research. She recently published an article in a peer-reviewed journal.


author email : online@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN RECOGNISES ITS TOP STUDENTS

UKZN RECOGNISES ITS TOP STUDENTS

R62 million in scholarships and merit bursaries distributed

 

An impressive R62 million has been distributed to more than 3 000 students by the University of KwaZulu-Natal this year through scholarships and merit bursaries, the most prestigious of which were awarded at a ceremony held at the University’s Westville campus on 22 August.

 

A total of 70 prestigious scholarships were presented to the University’s top academic student talent in three categories: undergraduate new entrant, undergraduate and postgraduate.

 

For the first time, the scholarships included the Distinguished Students’ Award, which recognised two students who combined academic excellence with exceptional community engagement or university service and reflected the values of UKZN’s mission, vision and goals.  

 

The two recipients of the new award -- BSc Honours Financial Mathematics student Ms Qhelile Nyathi and Bachelor of Arts student Ms Sophia Basckin – were nominated by the university’s staff and students. Third runner-up was Mr Nkanyiso Madlala, who received an iPad.

 

Guest speaker and UKZN alumnus, Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Mr Mduduzi Manana, commended the University for its progress in providing access to post-school learning, especially for previously marginalised sections of society.

 

He also praised the University for naming four of its scholarships after “four great South Africans”: UKZN’s first Chancellor and former Speaker of Parliament Dr Frene Ginwala, Constitutional  Court Judge Zak Yacoob, businessman and former UKZN Council Chairman Dr Vincent Maphai and former Chief Justice and University of Natal Chancellor Pius Langa.

 

‘These successful South Africans have all been pioneers in their various fields and they remain our shining beacons of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication,’ said Manana.

 

Master of Science student, Mr John Flanagan, was the recipient of the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship awarded to a high academic achiever who possesses strong leadership qualities, deep community engagement, a commitment to reconciliation and who reflects a spirit of entrepreneurship. 

 

Bachelor of Medicine student, Ms Anele Mkhize, was the highest achiever among the 23 recipients of the Frene Ginwala Scholarship, which is awarded to the top black African female undergraduate entrants into the University across all disciplines. Ginwala urged students to take advantage of the doors that have been opened to them, and live up to the values of the liberation movement.

 

The University’s top-ranked Masters’ student, music student Mr Isaac Machafa, received the prestigious Vincent Maphai Award. The former UKZN Council Chair described education as a critical element in developing a society. ‘Thank you very much for keeping our faith alive,’ Maphai told the students.

 

Top Honours student, Mr Justin Williams-Wynn, received the Zac Yacoob Scholarship.  

 

Ms Ailie Charteris, Ms Dalmae Adkins, Ms Takshita Sookan and Mr Yibeltal Bayleyegn each received Doctoral Research Scholarships, awarded to the top PhD candidates in the University’s four Colleges.

 

The Emma Smith Overseas Scholarship, which provides opportunities for top-performing female students living in eThekwini to pursue postgraduate study abroad, went to Ms Ingrid Salisbury, Ms Tatum Govender and Ms Lilli Holst.

 

Bachelor of Arts student Ms Lara Williams walked away with two scholarships, namely the Dr Townley Williams Scholarship, awarded to the best student entering the final year of study in a first degree (excluding Medicine), and one of the Prestige Undergraduate Scholarships bestowed upon the third top-performing undergraduate student in the University.

 

Second place in the undergraduate category went to Ms Nicole Purdon who received the Brenda M Gourley Scholarship.

 

First place went to Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering, Mr Ridwaan Amod, who received the Lawrence and Constance Robinson Scholarship for the best single undergraduate in the entire University.

 

Ms Zaakira Fakroodeen, Mr Mohammed Latiff and Ms Alicia Naidoo each received a UKZN Entrant Merit award, given to new undergraduate entrants and who were admitted to the University with the highest aggregates with a “full house” of six As (level 7 or higher) in the matriculation examination.

 

For the first time, the five top-ranked undergraduates proceeding from first-year to second-year study in each of the four Colleges also received the Vice-chancellor’s Scholarship.

 

Among the recipients of the postgraduate scholarships were Ms Frances Morrow, recipient of the Maryam Babangida Scholarship, Mr Kameel Premhid, who received the Abe Bailey Travel Bursary, and the S2A3 Medal went to Ms Jolene Mortimer for the best Master’s research dissertation in the sciences.

 

The Cecil Renaud Overseas Scholarship which gives top-end graduate students a chance to pursue their studies abroad went to Mr Duncan Frost and Ms Frances Currie.

 

Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba thanked the Scholarship Committee and all staff members who were involved in choosing the recipients.

 

Executive Director: Corporate Relations, Ms Nomonde Mbadi, thanked the guests for attending the ceremony. She told the recipients that as the “best and the brightest”, they should continue to inspire greatness.
author email : shabangus@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN’S NEW LOO SCOOPS SIXTH PLACE AT WORLD FAIR

UKZN’S NEW LOO SCOOPS SIXTH PLACE AT WORLD FAIR

Bill Gates deemed it was time for a new toilet. UKZN complied and their revolutionary system was placed sixth at the recent Reinvent the Toilet Fair in the United States.

Professor Chris Buckley and his team from the School of Engineering’s Pollution Research Group who designed the new toilet were at the fair in Seattle hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  On display was state-of-the-art toilet technology from around the world.

The challenge presented to the teams of international competing engineers had been to develop a super toilet which operates on a shoestring budget and does not need electricity, running water or a sewage system.  Bonus points were presented if the design captured energy or recycled waste into something useful in the process.

A team from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) won the top prize of US$100,000 (R800 000) for a solar-powered toilet which produces hydrogen and electricity.

Loughborough University in the United Kingdom was second for their toilet which uses energy from faeces to decompose the waste and recover clean water. Third prize went to chemical engineers from the University of Toronto for a toilet which sanitizes waste within 24 hours by dehydration and smoldering.

Buckley explained that UKZN’s toilet was designed to burn waste solids while re-routing urine to a storage tank where it would be decontaminated, purified and repurposed for flushing and hand-washing.

In contrast to prototype high-tech commodes, traditional toilets have not changed much since the 18th century.  The amount of water required to flush them and their reliance on being linked to an expensive sewage system are luxuries many communities in the developing world cannot afford. 

Buckley said about 2.5 billion people worldwide lacked clean, safe toilets - a problem which resulted in the death of nearly 1.5 million children annually.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested US$150 million (R1,2 billion) into improving global sanitation over the past two years.

The next step will be to take the top-performing technologies at the Reinvent the Toilet Fair and start making larger scale pilots.   ‘It is time for sanitation innovation,’ said Buckley.
author email : frosts@ukzn.ac.za

CHAKA CHAKA CALLS FOR MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN – ESPECIALLY IN RURAL AREAS

CHAKA CHAKA CALLS FOR MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN – ESPECIALLY IN RURAL AREAS

Renowned singer, businesswoman, ambassador and award winner Yvonne Chaka Chaka spoke out strongly in support of the further empowerment of women - especially in rural areas - during a presentation celebrating National Women’s Day at UKZN.

Known to the world as the Princess of Africa, Chaka Chaka, a mother of four boys, told women to believe in themselves and to stop always trying to please other people.

Calling for the creation of more opportunities for women, Chaka Chaka said 52 percent of South Africa’s population were women and, of these, 41 percent belonged to the working class, 19,8 percent were executive managers, 10,7 were company directors and 6,2 percent board members. 

She encouraged women to lead with authority. ‘After 27 years in the music industry I am where I am today because I worked hard and I did it my way.

‘We tend to live in this box but I refuse to be put in a box.’  She said women should uplift each other and unleash each other’s potential rather than pull each other down.

‘Get to where you want to be because you want to be there. Never be at anyone’s mercy.’

Executive Director: Corporate Relations, Ms Nomonde Mbadi, said UKZN was honoured by Chaka Chaka’s presence and thanked her for being a role model for all South African women.

Chaka Chaka received an honorary doctorate during UKZN’s 2012 Humanities Graduation ceremony and used the platform to champion the empowerment of women. She is also well known for her humanitarian work in Africa and other parts of the world.

She was recently presented with the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award for artists who use their talents to improve the state of the world.  She is the first African woman to receive this prestigious prize.

Of humble origins, Chaka Chaka grew up in Soweto at the height of apartheid.  She and her three sisters were raised by her mother, a domestic worker, who became the sole provider when her father died when she was only 11.  As a teenager in 1981, she was the first black child to feature on South African television.


author email : shabangus@ukzn.ac.za

14TH JOMBA! CONTEMPORARY DANCE EXPERIENCE BEGINS

14TH <em>JOMBA!</em> CONTEMPORARY DANCE EXPERIENCE BEGINS

UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) - with sponsorship from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund - will present the 14th edition of its celebrated annual contemporary dance platform, the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience between 29 August and 9 September.


According to CCA publicist, Ms Sharlene Versfeld, this year’s festival invites dance lovers and the public to explore the packed 12-day experience which includes exceptional performances, workshops presented by leading choreographers, and opportunities to interact with some of the world’s top dance makers as they “Talk Dance” after various performances.


‘As part of the France-South Africa 2012-2013 seasons exchange, JOMBA! plays host to a large contingent of French and Reunion dance companies and artists such as the renowned Michel Kelemenis and even Theatre Taliipot, who two years ago brought Durban to their feet in their bold dance work, Ma Ravan,’ said Versfeld.


CCA Director Mr Peter Rorvik said JOMBA! continues its collaboration with eThekwini Municipality this year, to offer its second one-night only outdoor dance extravaganza JOMBA! City, at the Beachfront Skate Park.


'JOMBA! fiercely holds onto its status as one of the few remaining dedicated spaces in South Africa where dance and choreography remain nurtured and supported,’ said Rorvik. ‘It continues to offer world class dance theatre that challenges audiences, asking that they come to the myriad festival offerings with the intention to be shocked, surprised, entertained and above all, to celebrate a beautiful and critical art form.’


Dance practitioners are encouraged to attend the series of free dance workshops with leading choreographers Vincent Mantsoe, PJ Sabbagha, Philippe Pelan (of Theatre Taliipot) and Durban’s Musa Hlatshwayo.


Tickets are R50 (R35 for students and pensioners). JOMBA! brochures are available at promotional outlets or visit www.cca.ukzn.ac.za for programme details.


author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN INVOLVED IN SPECIAL PROGRAMME FOR YOUNG MATHS BOFFS

UKZN INVOLVED IN SPECIAL PROGRAMME FOR YOUNG MATHS BOFFS

UKZN lecturers assist in Siyanqoba, a programme for high school students who excel in mathematics.

The programme is organised nationally by the South African Mathematics Foundation and funded by Harmony Gold and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

UKZN’s Professor Poobhalan Pillay serves as the KwaZulu-Natal Co-ordinator while lecturers from the School of Mathematical Sciences tutor groups on a weekly basis with students – who usually include the top achievers in the South African Maths Olympiad - from all over KwaZulu-Natal attending.

Dr Sudan Hansraj, Academic Leader for Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, volunteered to participate in the programme of lectures.

A Star College pupil and member of the programme has been selected to represent South Africa in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) in Argentina this year.

Interestingly, when South Africa was admitted to the IMO in 1992, KZN’s first representative was Kavilan Moodley, who is now Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.


author email : frosts@ukzn.ac.za

BOOK PUBLISHED BASED ON PHD THESIS

BOOK PUBLISHED BASED ON PHD THESIS

The PhD thesis of postgraduate student within the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Dr Vicci Tallis (PhD 2010), forms the basis of a book published by Palgrave MacMillan.

 

The book: Feminisms, HIV and AIDS: Subverting Power, Reducing Vulnerability, is a series of case studies which examine power. It looks at the question of why women are more vulnerable and makes suggestions on how to reduce that vulnerability by subverting gendered power. 

 

It also addresses women working in solidarity and individual women’s struggles and tackles other issues which empower women to address different aspects of their inequality.

 

‘I am very excited that my book, based on my PhD has been published.  A good friend and academic encouraged me to pursue a publisher. I had a few rejections to deal with and then Palgrave offered to publish.  I did a lot of re-writing of my thesis, rearranged chapters and edited huge chunks of text, a process that took about 12 months,’ explained Tallis.

 

Tallis has over 26 years of working experience in the area of women's rights, HIV and AIDS in southern Africa.

 

I have been in the HIV field since 1986 and throughout my academic career I have worked full time in NGOs.  I have had a lot of positive affirmation from my partner, family, friends and colleagues on the publication of the book.

 

‘But writing a PhD thesis can be a lonely endeavour, support is vital and I was lucky to have lots of that.  I also felt that I had something to share which helped with my motivation to finish.’

 

Tallis is currently living in Thailand, doing consultancy work and studying for an honours degree in Photography. Her book is currently available on-line from Amazon, Kalahari and Exclusive Books.
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

POPULATION STUDIES POSTGRAD STUDENT GETS HSRC FUNDING

POPULATION STUDIES POSTGRAD STUDENT GETS HSRC FUNDING

Masters student in Population studies within the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (SBEDS) Mr Preston Govindsamy has been awarded funding from the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) for his postgraduate research.

 

‘I am really excited about receiving this funding and it will definitely aid with my research studies,’ said Govindsamy.

 

In May 2012 the Education and Skills Development Programme of the HSRC was commissioned by the Department of Higher Education and Training to undertake research on Labour Markets and post school training.

 

Part of this undertaking was to provide financial support to postgraduate students who were conducting research in the fields of labour markets, education and skills.

 

‘My Supervisor Dr Daniela Casale noticed the HSRC invitation to nominate students conducting research in the above mentioned fields and motivated me to apply. I applied for the bursary and a month later was informed by the HSRC that my application had been successful,’ said Govindsamy.

 

His dissertation aims to investigate the relationship between computer literacy and earnings to determine if there is a significant economic premium for being computer literate in South Africa.

 

Govindsamy’s research is quantitative and he is utilising the National Income Dynamics Survey (NIDS) 2008, Wave 1 for analysis purposes.

 

‘My research is motivated by the idea that changing skills occupy a key role in proposed explanations of both economic growth and the changing distribution of wages in many developing countries where there is an increased demand and competition for individuals with higher skill levels.’

 

‘Raising the skills of national workforces through education and training has therefore become a core objective of economic policies aimed at developing national competitiveness. I am currently conducting preliminary descriptive analysis,’ he explained.

 

Govindsamy thanked Dr Daniela Casale for her support and academic guidance throughout his research process. ‘She has been instrumental in guiding and facilitating my research in this particular field.’
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

YOUNG SCIENTISTS’ EXPO HAILED AS A GREAT SUCCESS

YOUNG SCIENTISTS’ EXPO HAILED AS A GREAT SUCCESS

The annual FFS Expo for Young Scientists, hosted recently on UKZN’s Westville campus, was labelled a “big success” by the organisers.

‘These inter-school competitions require learners to apply mathematics and physical science in a practical and fun way and help develop problem solving skills, good team work and communication ability,’ said Protec Tongaat Manager, Ms Marion Takis.

Four teams from PROTEC Tongaat participated in the Steam Car Challenge with learners making their cars using kits designed by Professor Jeff Binden from UKZN’s School of Engineering. The top team from PROTEC covered a whopping 493 metres.

The 2012 Science Expo attracted about 280 high school learners and 167 projects, with FFS Refiners continuing as the main sponsor.  The company’s generosity included the sponsorship of 25 of the top achievers and a group of disadvantaged young scientists on a four-day tour of various sites of scientific interest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

FFS Refiners Financial Director, Mr Don Cochran, said his company was committed to the development of young people. ‘We believe that a country's future is linked to the development of Science and Technology among high-school learners, as this is where our scientists and engineers will come from.’

‘We are proud to be sponsors of the FFS Expo for Young Scientists as in so doing, we are encouraging young learners to consider a career in the Science and Technology fields.’

UKZN’s Distinguished Teacher Award holder, Professor Bice Martincigh, has for many years been the driving force and organising brain behind the annual event. ‘The FFS Science Expo is my baby,’ said Martincigh.  ‘Putting it together is an enormous amount of work, but we have a good team and it is very rewarding.’


author email : frosts@ukzn.ac.za

HOW SOUTH AFRICA’S HEALTH SYSTEM “FAILS” IN MDR-TB TREATMENT

HOW SOUTH AFRICA’S HEALTH SYSTEM “FAILS” IN MDR-TB TREATMENT

Leading scientists, academics and postgraduate candidates from UKZN’s College of Health Sciences participated in a critical discussion on how the South African health system fails in the treatment of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

 

The discussion was stimulated by a presentation delivered by Ms Marian Loveday, a Senior Scientist at the Medical Research Council, as part of the lecture series presented by K-RITH’s Education and Training Programme.

MDR-TB describes strains of tuberculosis which are resistant to at least the two main first-line TB drugs - isoniazid and rifampicin.

‘It’s sad how often the health system is failing patients,’ said Loveday, who is currently doing her PhD on the evaluation of decentralised versus centralised MDR-TB treatment with Dr Kristina Wallengren, K-RITH’s Clinical Core Manager.

 

Loveday said health-seeking behaviour was largely determined by accessibility, scope of service, reputation and trust in the caregiver.

 

Patients may also come from communities where certain topics were taboo, where stigmatisation was an issue and where patients may opt to use traditional medicine simultaneously with Western medicine. Many of these factors, among others, could lead to patient non-adherence to treatment for MDR-TB.

 

Loveday said chronic diseases could result in catastrophic expenditure levels on health services.

 

Part of her PhD has evolved around health systems evaluation where she shows that more often the system fails the patient rather than the patient failing the system.

 

She presented findings from a recent South African study evaluating health system performance in which context, intervention, mechanisms in place and output, both on the district level and facility level, were the focus.

 

Loveday said if the health system was working the result would be successful treatment outcomes.

 

She outlined factors in the health system which severely impacted on treatment outcomes including district and facility level ownership of the MDR-TB problem, service stability, service integration, drug availability and the quality of care.

 

Discussing the nationwide shortage in the healthcare workforce, Loveday highlighted cases in healthcare centres where a low number of healthcare staff were trained in TB diagnosis and management.

 

Loveday said there was an alarmingly high level of staff absenteeism in the health system. In some cases clinical notes were inadequate, health practitioners experienced a delay in lab results, and health facilities were not aligned for maximal functionality.

 

‘Possibly, things work better in the laboratories than in the health system.’

 

South Africa, said Loveday, had 100 percent directly-observed treatment coverage, necessary guidelines were followed and ‘the supply of first-line TB drugs is and will remain uninterrupted.

 

‘It is a myth that routine adherence monitoring and the routine monitoring of side effects are in place.

 

‘Assume something is not working unless proven otherwise,’ she added

 

Participants discussed whether the county was ready to embrace the full-on use of computers to speed up the healthcare system.
author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

IKOLISHI LINIKEZE ULWAZI KOSOSAYENSI NONJINIYELA BAKUSASA

IKOLISHI LINIKEZE ULWAZI KOSOSAYENSI NONJINIYELA BAKUSASA

IKolishi lwezoLimo, uBunjiniyela nezeSayensi (Agriculture, Engineering and Science) belinomcimbi wokunikeza ulwazi kubafundi bezikole zaseMgungundlovu nezaseThekwini abafisa ukuqhuba izifundo zabo kwezesayensi nezobunjiniyela.


Lemicimbi beyibanjelwe e-UNITE / School of Engineering Building esikhungweni saseHoward College nasehholo iColin Webb esikhungweni saseMgungundlovu ngeMgqibelo elandelanayo.


Abazali babafundi abafisa ukufunda eNyuvesi bathole ulwazi oluningi babuye bathola nolwazi ngeminye imikhakha engaphansi kwalelikolishi.


Yomibili lemicimbi ibinohlelo lapho izihambeli bezinikezwa ulwazi ngemifundazwe, uxhaso olunikezwa abafundi, ihhovisi elisekela abafundi kanye nendlela yokufaka izicelo zokufunda e-UKZN, betshelwa abaphathi bezikole ngasinye ngaphansi kweKolishi.


UMphathi ngamunye wethule izinto ezenziwa esikoleni ngasinye ngabafundisi abahlukene. Lokhu kunikeze izihambeli ulwazi olungconywana emikhakheni abafuna ukuyenza engaphansi kwekolishi, nethuba lokubona abafundisi babo bakusasa.


Click here for English version


author email : frosts@ukzn.ac.za

BACTERIA FROM DURBAN HARBOUR USED IN RESEARCH

BACTERIA FROM DURBAN HARBOUR USED IN RESEARCH

MSc Microbiology student Ms Rendani Bulannga recently presented a paper at the SA Society of Aquatic Scientists’ (SASAqS) Annual Conference on the isolation and characterisation of Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) utilising estuarine bacteria from Durban harbour.

PPCPs, present in a diverse range of products such as health care, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic formulations, are continuously released into the aquatic environment via sewage systems, owing to the lack of quantitative removal by waste water treatment plants.

Ultimately, these compounds can enter the marine environment via river discharges. As several PPCPs are known endocrine disruptors, their presence in marine environments is of concern.

Bulannga’s study aims to isolate and characterise PPCPs catabolising aerobic bacteria from estuarine environments, as only limited data is available concerning the environmental fate of such anthropogenic chemicals within marine environments of South Africa.

By using an artificial seawater medium supplemented with selected PPCPs as the sole source of carbon and energy, two bacterial isolates were obtained that grew at the expense of salicylate and phenylsalicylate under aerobic conditions. The formation of bacterial biomass in batch cultures over time correlated well with an almost quantitative elimination of the target pollutants from the artificial seawater medium, which was analytically verified by UV spectroscopy and HPLC analysis.

Controls confirmed that the pollutant elimination was owing to microbial catabolism and not to abiotic losses. The two isolated strains were identified as members of the genera Acinetobacter and Oceanimonas, respectively. Oxygen uptake studies indicated that the aerobic catabolism of these two compounds is inducible and proceeds via catechol.

‘These results indicate that bacteria are present in the estuarine environment of KwaZulu-Natal and can tackle selected PPCPs,’ said Bulannga, who is working towards her Masters degree under the supervision of Professor Stefan Schmidt.

Bulannga’s attendance at the SASAqS Conference was supported by a College of Agriculture, Engineering, and Science conference bursary. Other speakers included UKZN luminary, Professor Roland Schulze.


author email : frosts@ukzn.ac.za

BRIGHTENING SMILES AT UKZN

BRIGHTENING SMILES AT UKZN

An oral health and dental screening campaign is being run by UKZN’s Dentistry Discipline to coincide with National Oral Health month.

 

The free service, available on Friday mornings, was launched last week and was well attended by staff and students who were screened at the Dental Pre-Clinical Laboratory on the Westville campus.

 

‘We’re spreading the word about healthy teeth and gums,’ said Mrs Rajeshree Moodley, a Senior Tutor in the Discipline. ‘People take oral health for granted and during Dental Month that’s what we’re trying to highlight.

 

‘It’s important to have a dental check-up at least once a year. Patients only realise there is a problem when there is pain.

 

‘Technological advancements have made invaluable contributions to dentistry. Today, tooth loss is not the end of the world,’ said Moodley.

 

‘Avoid fizzy drinks and limit the amount of sugar in your diet. It is still very important to brush twice daily using a good bristled toothbrush.’

 

Flossing daily and using fluoridated mouth rinse were recommended for maximum protection as well as the need to eat sufficient fruit and vegetables.

 

As part of the Discipline’s community engagement initiative, its students also provide dental services at King George V Hospital’s Oral and Dental Training Centre and organise school visits and weekly clinics at St Wendolins near Marianhill, where patients do not have access to clinics.

 

UKZN staff member Mr Mxolisi Ncube said he was satisfied with his dental screening and impressed by the students’ level of professionalism.

 

Second-year dentistry student Mr Mohammed Vally said he enjoyed helping provide the screening services. Completing his degree would help him give back to the community. ‘I hope to open up my own practice one day.’

 

Student, Miss Nadira Khan reminded people that dentistry services were available at a reasonable price at government hospitals.


author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

HERMANNSBURG HIGH EXCELS AT ENVIRO QUIZ

HERMANNSBURG HIGH EXCELS AT ENVIRO QUIZ

Hermannsburg High School edged out St Charles College to take gold at the annual Mondi WESSA Environment Quiz held on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus recently.

Fourteen teams from all over South Africa competed in the fun-filled, yet challenging evening of questions which eventually ended with Hermannsburg scooping the National Enviro-Quiz Floating Trophy for the 10th time, with St Charles College a mere two points behind! Third place went to Hermannsburg School’s “B” team.

‘This excellent performance by the Hermannsburg teams was the culmination of a great deal of hard work by both team and staff members,’ said WESSA’s Master of Ceremonies, Dr Jim Taylor.

Quizmaster Dr Jason Londt fired off questions on subjects such as insects, larger animals, birds, the marine environment and indigenous matters.  General knowledge questions ensured that teams needed a well-rounded background to Planet Earth’s life-supporting eco-systems including fresh water, air, food and biodiversity. 

To keep the enthusiastic crowd of supporters on their toes, audience members were encouraged to offer answers.

‘It really was a wonderful evening,’ said WESSA’s Ms Clare Peddie. ‘A special thank you to our Mondi sponsors represented by Mr Chris Burchmore, and to UKZN represented by Professor Kevin Kirkman and Ms Swastika Maney. Both Mondi and UKZN have, for many years, supported this national event and we are very grateful to both of them.’

Each year high school learners from all over South Africa are invited to participate in the quiz aimed at encouraging youngsters to learn about the environment and then to compete in a fun-filled quiz where everyone learns a lot!
author email : frosts@ukzn.ac.za

JOURNAL CLUB STIMULATES RESEARCH PRODUCTIVITY IN CLINICAL ANATOMY

JOURNAL CLUB STIMULATES RESEARCH PRODUCTIVITY IN CLINICAL ANATOMY

Monthly Journal Club meetings held by the Discipline of Clinical Anatomy at UKZN continue to function as the backbone supporting academic activities and research excellence among colleagues and postgraduate candidates in the Discipline.

Attended by Professor William Daniels, Dean and Head of the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, the most recent seminar critiqued research being conducted by PhD candidates Ms Carmen Rennie and Dr Odey Agbor Akpa in co-operation with honours student Ms Trinity Masia.

Daniels said students were encouraged to present their work and received the necessary guidelines and feedback from seasoned researchers in the Discipline.

Rennie is investigating the development of the paranasal air sinuses in a South African population from childhood to early adulthood - an anatomical, radiological and forensic study.

Rennie said there was limited knowledge of pneumatisation patterns and development in South African children and hoped she could provide a Southern Hemispheric data set apart from the study’s forensic applicability.

She said the study had clinical significance and hoped the knowledge she gained would reduce complications.

Akpa of Walter Sisulu University’s Clinical Anatomy Discipline presented his thesis proposal titled: “The effect of Brachylaena discolour on testicular morphometric indices in streptozotocin-induced diabetic Wistar rats”.

Masia is investigating students’ opinions on plastinated specimens in anatomical education at UKZN. He is concerned about the long-term health hazards of working with preserved cadaveric material at the anatomical laboratory and alternatively intends to determine the level of awareness among anatomy students about plastination and plastinated specimen.

Plastination is the technique or process used in anatomy to preserve bodies or body parts which stay lifelike and indefinitely antiseptic.

Masia said he had been fortunate to be a student of Dr Azu Okpara, a Senior Lecturer in the Discipline and a prolific researcher in plastination.


author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za