Academic Leader for Statistics at UKZN, Professor Delia North has been elected onto the Council of the International Statistics Institute.

Not only is North the only South African to be awarded this honour, she is only one of two Africans on the Council. She was nominated for the position by the current Council President, Professor Jae Chang Lee, in recognition for her work in capacity building in Statistics.

Established in 1885, the International Statistics Institute is a professional society comprising members from 120 countries, with its main office located in The Hague, Netherlands.

The primary objective of the Institute is to promote understanding, development and good practice in the area of Statistics around the world. Its core consists of renowned statisticians and seven associations. The Institute is involved in prestigious biennial world congresses, numerous conferences and the publication of several professional journals.

Dean and Head of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Professor Kesh Govinder, congratulated North on her appointment and acknowledged her hard work and dedication. ‘This is a great honour, for Delia, our School, UKZN and South Africa,’ he said.    ‘We are proud of her achievement and know that she will continue to work tirelessly to benefit Statistics at UKZN and in South Africa.’

A delighted North expressly acknowledged those students and staff at the University of KwaZulu-Natal who continually assisted and supported her in the various endeavours.  She said her appointment placed her ‘at the forefront of discussions around collaborative international projects in statistics education and research’.  She would use this opportunity to further the growth of Statistics at UKZN.

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The names of the winners of UKZN’s English-IsiZulu Writing Competition, held in partnership with Independent Newspapers KZN, were announced at a function at the University.

The three winners each received R10 000 and an iPad.

Ms Khethiwe Mkhize won the prize for the best essay, Mr Thandanani Mabaso for the best poem, and Mr Khayelihle Mnguni for the best short story.

Novice and experienced writers were invited to submit short stories, essays, reflections, poetry or pieces with a visual component. More than 350 entries were received.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Professor Renuka Vithal, said the purpose of the competition had been to promote bilingualism and in particular the use of isiZulu as envisaged in the University’s Language Policy and Plan.

The goal had also been to contribute to creating a literature in isiZulu, and promote a culture of reading and writing in African languages among young people.

‘In a world where English is still often seen as the language of “learnedness” it creates an awareness that this is not necessarily the case; that one can say something meaningful in any of our indigenous languages. Secondly, it creates a space for people to express themselves creatively in their mother tongue even where that mother tongue is not English.

‘For English first language users it creates the space to experiment and play and therefore become just a little bit more comfortable in another language,’ said Vithal.

Looking at the quality of the entries Vithal said most were written in isiZulu and a few in English and isiZulu combined.

Winning pieces will be published in a book by UKZN Press to be launched at the 2013 Time of the Writer event. Selected pieces will also be published in the daily isiZulu newspaper, Isolezwe.

UKZN Press will contribute any royalties accrued from the book towards a scholarship for a UKZN undergraduate student majoring in isiZulu studies.

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UKZN’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Sciences has partnered with the eThekwini  Mayoral Fund and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education (KZNDOE) to provide free support classes to indigent learners at high schools in the greater Durban area.

Lecturers Dr Sudan Hansraj and Dr Megandheran Govender provide tuition in mathematics and physical science to 180 students from Grades 10, 11 and 12 over 28 Saturdays during the year.

The students are identified by the KZNDOE, and the mayorial James Nxumalo Fund (JNF) takes responsibility for the logistics around transport, meals and administrative control.  UKZN staff provide the academic programme at no cost. 

The purpose of the programme is to expose capable students who are university material to high-end teaching methodologies of UKZN staff so as to maximise the chances of success by these students in mathematics and science. It is anticipated that high achieving learners in this cohort will be eligible for places at UKZN in challenging disciplines offered in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science. 

Hansraj said that several  international studies had revealed that  on average  South African learners performed very poorly on standardised tests in mathematics and science compared with their counterparts worldwide.

The latest such report was provided by the World Economic Forum (2012), which ranked South Africa last out of 65 participating countries. The organisers believe that this is traceable to poor teachers in the education system.  ‘Given the longevity of poor teachers, radical interventions bypassing the teacher must be introduced so that the current generation of students are not sacrificed on the altar of poor teaching,’ said Hansraj.

Verbal reports from the students as well as their handlers from the JNF suggest that they have benefited tremendously from the programme.

In addition to the exposure to content at the appropriate level, students are also given a glimpse into the high-tech teaching methodologies employed by the teachers in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Compute Science (SMSCS). In particular, use is made of technology-rich teaching environments including live web video integration, use of tablet software (ADOBE Captivate) to record lecture material for later viewing, use of dynamical software animations and graphics (Mathematica 8.04) as well as involvement of 3-D camera technology to assist learners in visualisation of concepts.

These high-end teaching methodologies have been pioneered by members of staff of the SMSCS over a number of years. Mayoral organiser Mr Dharam Singh has presented his findings on the project at a conference of the eThekwini Metro.

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World AIDS Day 2012 united members of the College of Health Sciences and expert TB and HIV researchers in activities at the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH) building.

Representatives of K-RITH, the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) – pioneer institutions in HIV and TB research– said they supported the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) vision of: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.

All three campuses on which the College of Health Sciences is based exhibited banners raising awareness about the “Getting to Zero” - World AIDS Campaign.

CAPRISA hosted Dr Alan Bernstein, President of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), who delivered a guest lecture on how global science could address global health and environmental challenges.

‘Today’s most pressing challenges are increasingly complex and increasingly global,’ said Bernstein, ‘and serious solutions will only come about in the long term through international collaboration and cultivating young scientists.’

Some of the global challenges he outlined were climate change, inequity, global health disparities, terrorism, food and water security, as well as HIV and AIDS.

Bernstein highlighted some of the interposing programmes CIFAR had to offer, including an academy for gifted young scientists who could become scholars of an elite fellowship that builds research and leadership capacity. He said for the first time in 2013, the institute would issue a Call of Papers centred on six themes and guided by research excellence, leadership, internationality, a good frame of argument, and a Canadian concept as important criteria.

Bernstein mentioned that CIFAR needed to involve brainpower from the developing world, and young scientists from the African continent would be considered.  He said in comparison to older generations, young scientists today were more confident, bold and global thinking. ‘The scientific enterprise needs young people.’

Professor Thumbi Ndung'u, Scientific Director for the HPP, said it was critical to translate science into practical solutions which benefit society.

Participants agreed on the importance of continuing intellectual conversations that would foster ground-breaking research though collaborations.

A moving documentary titled: Thing With No Name, was screened. The film followed two Zulu women as they began rigorous and often confusing antiretroviral drug therapy. The film gave insight into some of the contextual challenges individuals- especially women and children - infected and affected by HIV and AIDS face in rural areas.

Dr Bernhard Gaede, Director for UKZN’s Centre for Rural Health (CRH), said: ‘It is amazing that we are able to start talking about “getting to Zero” around new HIV infections or HIV related deaths. Through the intensive ARV roll out in South Africa we have learnt that there are a number of key components that need to be considered to make significant moves in this direction.’

Gaede said besides exploring and understanding the biological aspects of HIV - as well as its role in other conditions such as TB, malignancies or mental health and development - careful attention needed to be given to personal, family and social dynamics as well as the health care system.

K-RITH also hosted a quiz and social where CAPRISA and HPP joined in to raise funds that the winning team would donate to a charitable organisation of their choice.

CAPRISA’s Judith Annakie-Eriksen said the day’s activities strengthened professional relationships that already existed between the research centres and programme through research collaboration.

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December 03, 2012 was a day marking not only the commemoration of the world’s first heart transplant in Cape Town in 1967, but also the life and times of self-taught medical assistant, Mr Hamilton Naki, whose rare skills and excellence gave birth to Netcare’s Hamilton Naki Clinical Symposium and Awards Dinner held in Durban this year.

Attended by members of the Naki family, the dinner paid tribute to the man who advanced from being a gardener to a principal surgical assistant at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) research laboratory and chosen by Dr Christiaan Barnard to assist with research and experimental work preceding and following the historic  heart transplant.

The scholarship, named after Naki, was introduced in 2007 in response to the shortage of qualified academic leaders in South African medical schools, especially for those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.

Professor Bongani Mayosi, UKZN alumnus and Head of UCT’s Department of Medicine, said the pioneering heart transplant in 1967 captured the imagination of the world. ‘It put the country on the magical map of the world.’  Mayosi challenged Hamilton Naki scholars to do even greater things than the transplant.

Recipients of the scholarship dating from its inception in 2007 have been Dr Carol Hlela, Dr Bonga Chiliza, Dr Mushi Matjila, Dr Deliwe Ngwezi and Dr Rudzani Moloiwa – all alumni of UKZN.

While Hlela is a Cape Town-based dermatologist who completed her PhD in immunology at the University of Oxford’s Green Templeton College in the United Kingdom, Chiliza is finalising his doctoral thesis in Psychiatry at Stellenbosch University. Matjila continues with his doctorate in Obstetrics at UCT and Ngwezi is overseas conducting her doctoral research in Paediatric Cardiology in Canada.

Moloiwa’s is busy with a paediatric doctoral study into the epidemiology of pertussis – the highly contagious bacterial disease that causes whooping cough.

The 2012 recipients of the scholarship were Dr Liesl Zuhlke and Dr Itumeleng Taunyene who were honoured at the dinner.

One of Zuhlke’s on-going research projects focuses on rheumatic heart disease. Zuhlke said early detection of the disease was critical and in her study 3 000 school children had already been screened. In another study, Zuhlke is investigating disease progression at 26 sites in Africa, the Middle East and India.

Taunyene is a cardiothoracic surgeon from UCT who developed a strong interest in heart surgery from his second year of medical study. He said his research interests were into neurological reverse following cardiac arrest.

A moving keynote address was delivered by Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, Vice-Chancellor of UKZN, who said the time had come for South Africa to recognise talent and make sure none of it was wasted.

Makgoba said, like Naki, many unsung heroes existed but were not presented with the relevant opportunities to hone their skills into something that could ‘change the world as we know it’. He said Naki’s talent would take registrars years to perfect.

Through the scholarship, Netcare was lauded for making great strides towards producing academics of a high calibre who demonstrated a capacity and commitment to make a difference to academic health care in South Africa.

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The College of Health Sciences (CHS) recently honoured top students and congratulated the class of 2012 in which new doctors achieved a 92 percent pass rate.

Opening proceedings at the annual Medical Banquet held at the International Convention Centre, Professor Richard Hift, Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Clinical Medicine, said: ‘It’s wonderful to be able to say: “good evening colleagues” rather than “good evening students”.’

The new doctors start their internship programmes spread across the country’s hospitals next month and graduate at University-wide ceremonies in April.

Dr Abdoola Faheema was named Top Final Year MBChB Student for 2012, receiving the CHS prize as well as the Dr YK Seedat prize which is also awarded to the top student. Faheema scooped the AE Kolia Prize in Paediatrics and passed her final-year examinations summa cum laude.

Incoming President of the Medical Student Representative Council (MSRC), Mr Nsizwenye Mkhwanazi, said events such as the medical banquet confirmed the potential in South Africa.

The doctors were congratulated by College Management and representatives from the banquet’s sponsors: Mediclinic, Lancet Laboratories, the Medical Protection Society, and eThekwini Heart and Life Hospital.

Mrs Reinette Oosthuizen of Mediclinic said her company had continued interest and trust in the University.

Professor Rob Slotow, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of CHS, said stepping out as the next generation of doctors would be an exciting opportunity and a challenge.  He encouraged them to become ambassadors for UKZN and for the profession.

In his address, Hift said: ‘As you step out into the world of clinical medicine you will not only be clinicians, you will also be leaders. You will find society looks up to you... the hope of the country rests on your shoulders.’ 

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Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman, Academic Leader of  Physics at UKZN, has been elected Vice-President of the South African Society for Atmospheric Sciences (SASAS).

Stemming from his election, UKZN’s School of Chemistry and Physics will host the 30th Annual conference of SASAS in Durban next year.

Venkataraman has served on the Council for the last five years and has been the peer-reviewed conference editor for three years.

The conference proceedings will be recorded as DoHET accredited.

SASAS, which was inaugurated in 1983, aims to stimulate interest and support for all branches of the atmospheric sciences, both in South Africa and in the broader context, including the rest of Africa. This is achieved by encouraging research and education in the atmospheric sciences and collaboration between organisations and institutions interested in the science of the atmosphere.

SASAS is administered by a Council, comprising four officers - president, vice-president, honorary secretary and honorary treasurer - and six councillors, all of whom are re-elected every two years.

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In an effort to encourage chemical curiosity among school pupils and attract them to the possibilities of the field as a choice of future study, UKZN’s School of Chemistry and Physics organised a crystal growing competition for local schools, in conjunction with the Royal Society of Chemistry.

‘We wanted to have some fun with crystals and at the same time instill a love of chemistry in young minds,’ said Professor Ross Robinson, Academic Leader of Research in the Pietermaritzburg Chemistry Department.

Schools which registered - including Maritzburg College, Epworth, Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High, Alexandra High and Carter High - were sent crystal growing kits and six weeks later exhibited their results at the University. 

While the judges were deciding which school had produced the best crystal, the participants spent the morning in the Chemistry Department viewing the high-tech instrumentation within the chemistry laboratories and gaining an insight into the fascinating variety of research projects being undertaken by postgraduate students and staff. 

Professor Orde Munro demonstrated how X-ray diffraction could be used to determine the shape and identity of crystals and how he uses this in his on-going research into anti-cancer drugs.

Their crash course in chemistry was rounded off with a “Chemistry Magic Show” in the afternoon, which featured a kaleidoscope of colours, smells, and bangs.

Maritzburg College’s crystal was deemed the most structurally impressive and pure, winning the School an electronic weather station that not only measures rainfall but also wind direction, humidity and atmospheric pressure.

Robinson, who co-ordinated the event, said:  ‘We hope to grow the competition next year and have more schools competing.’  He said there was a good possibility that the local winners could compete in an international crystal growing competition in future.

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The College of Humanities celebrated excellence at it its inaugural Staff Excellence Awards ceremony which was combined with a presentation of long-service awards and a farewell for the DVC and Head of College, Professor Joseph Ayee.

The Staff Excellence Awards, which were the brainchild of Ayee, recognised both academic and professional staff members who have made a major impact in the College and at the University. 

Individual and team awards were presented in three major categories: Research, Teaching and Learning and Professional, with several awards per category.  A total of 32 staff members were recognised.

Nominations for the awards were received from College staff members and an awards committee comprising College management reviewed all the nominations, scrutinising the motivations to come up with the eventual winners. 

The only two awards for which no nominations were required were the Top Researcher and Top Emerging Researcher awards as they were automatically calculated based on productivity units.

The Professional category awards were particularly well received as evidenced by comments from professional staff members who said it was mostly only academic staff who were recognised for excellence. 

College Director of Professional Services, Mr Kishore Gobardan said: ‘This year it is particularly significant that we recognise those who have provided outstanding and efficient professional service in the light of the reconfiguration of the Colleges and the various challenges this has brought.’

In addition, the College honoured those who have served the University for many years by presenting long-service awards to three staff members with 25 years’ service and 12 staff with 15 years’ service.  

The event also served as a farewell to Professor Ayee who has diligently served and led the College of Humanities for the past three years.  Ayee will be moving back to Ghana, the country of his birth, where he will pursue other challenges and opportunities.  

Ayee challenged the College to continue to strive for excellence by following rules and processes, delivering on goals and meeting deadlines, and building a healthy collegial atmosphere.

He acknowledged the Deans and Heads of School and thanked the Executive Management Committee for their support and the Vice-Chancellor for his leadership.

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The School of Life Sciences hosted its Biotechnology Undergraduate Awards ceremony at the Senate Chamber on the Westville campus.

Representatives from Merck Inqaba Biotech and Whitehead Scientific were present and assisted in handing out the awards to deserving students.

Merck is a pioneer in acknowledging students’ performance in the field of Biotechnology and their relationship with UKZN has been a long and fruitful one.

Other organisations such as Inqaba Biotech and Whitehead Scientific have also stepped forward to encourage and motivate UKZN students to excel in their studies.

‘Such strong participation from industry partners is very encouraging,’ said Dean and Head of the School of Life Sciences, Professor Sam Mukaratirwa. ‘It is this type of support and collaboration the School of Life Sciences would like to encourage and increase.’

Merck awards for excellence were given to Ms Emma Kernezos; Ms Derissa Simhadri; Ms Jody McLean - who received awards for both Genetics and Microbiology; and Ms Farzeen Kader.

There were several other prizes sponsored by Inqaba Biotech and Whitehead Scientific.

The Inqaba Biotech award for the best Recombinant DNA Technology students went to Mr Tawanda Mandizvo and Ms Caitlin Mash. 

Kernezos and Mr Njabulo Nene received an award from Whitehead Scientific for being the best 3rd year Biochemistry Laboratory Techniques students.

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The School of Engineering’s Sustainable Energy Research Group (SERG), located in the Discipline of Mechanical Engineering, recently hosted KwaZulu-Natal’s first provincial workshop dedicated to the measurement and analysis of solar energy.

The workshop was presented by Mr Riaan Meyer of Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) and Mr Mike Brooks of UKZN’s SERG.

This follows the procurement of high quality solar maps by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT) and Trade and Industry KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN). UKZN and Stellenbosch University partnered to provide the solar maps, which allow potential developers to find the best locations within the province for constructing photovoltaic and concentrating solar power plants.

The workshop was opened by UKZN’s Dean of Engineering, Professor Cristina Trois, Professor JL van Niekerk of CRSES and Ms Liesel Beires of DEDT.

Trois welcomed delegates and described the various renewable energy initiatives that UKZN is pursuing, including projects in waste-to-energy conversion, solar and wind energy studies. In his address, van Niekerk said as the effects of climate change began to be felt, a key strategy was to ensure that the power supply system was resilient in the face of disruptions.

Delegates were given an overview of various solar technologies, such as photovoltaics, concentrating solar systems and solar water heaters. The types of instrumentation used in sun strength measurement were described, followed by a session dedicated to satellite-derived solar data and the statistical uncertainties associated with solar maps. Of special importance was the question of “bankable data” and the criteria related to financing solar energy projects.

As part of the workshop, Brooks gave a presentation on the history and current status of solar energy monitoring efforts in KwaZulu-Natal. At present there are three high-quality ground stations within the greater Durban area recording solar data at 1-minute intervals. Delegates were shown how to access the data using the University’s online GRADRAD website.

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This year’s African Music Outreach: Community Development class within the Music Discipline recently presented the 7th Annual Cultural Calabash at the Howard College Theatre.

'The Calabash placed an emphasis on the diversity that is in South Africa, looking at the different cultural and ethnic groups and thereafter providing a representation of their folk life on stage,’ said Nomthandazo Ntungwa,  one of the two MCs on the night.

African Music and Dance Lecturer Dr Patricia Opondo said the Calabash took the audience on a journey from old cultural forms and styles bringing them to the new exciting cultural fusion and development of traditional music, dance and poetry.

‘It featured a variety of African professional groups, some well-established with years of experience in the African music and dance industry and others new arts groups commonly known in community theatres.

‘The featured artists included Ubuhle Bomlazi, Siyabonga Mpungose (the poet), African Numbers, Amatsheketshe, Feel Africa from Zimbabwe, Ntobe Sibiya with her haunting vocals, Chris & Arno with their rendition of Afrikaans folk music, Sivani Chinappan who presented South Indian classical and folk dances, and the Ballroom dancers from the UKZN Dance Club.This was indeed a spectacular show that truly enriches African Tradition,’ said Opondo.

African fashion was also showcased  in addition to a memorable cuisine night with a variety of mouth-watering African dishes from South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and India being  offered.

‘The organisation, marketing and staging of the show including shopping and preparing the banquet, was part of the service learning training for final year African Music and Dance students and gave them valuable experience in the world of arts management and festival production,’ said Opondo.

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Key players convened at the National Environmental Skills Summit in Johannesburg to outline the roadmap and prioritise skills development initiatives that will support a robust green economy for South Africa.

UKZN was represented at the Summit by Professor Albert Modi, Dean and Head of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences. ‘The Summit provided us with a unique opportunity to showcase to a national audience our capacity for human capital development at UKZN, and to network with major players in government, NGOs and the private sector. It also allowed us to build relationships with GreenMatter, an initiative of SANBI and the Lewis Foundation, which convened the summit,’ said Modi.

Mr Brian Goodall, Chairman of The Lewis Foundation and lead partner in the GreenMatter initiative, said: ‘Instead of competing on scarce green talent, as a sector we are proud to be working together for the greater good by creating socio-economic value that will enhance our country's competitiveness.’

Modi participated in a key-note panel discussion involving the CEO of SANBI, Dr Tanya Abrahamse; Head of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Siemens, Mrs Alex Mathole, and the CEO of the NRF, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld.

The discussion and other presentations at the Summit highlighted the urgent need to develop high-end skills in the environmental sector, particularly to fill the demand in the public sector. ‘While I am confident about the quality of the graduates we are producing it is clear that we, and other universities, are going to have to increase the number of students we recruit and graduate to make up the skills back-log,’ said Modi.

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The College of Law and Management Studies recently acknowledged and recognised staff excellence at its Awards Evening and End of Year Dinner which was held at the Westville campus on 30 November.

In recognition of their contribution to the University and the College, eight staff members were presented with long service awards while six academics were honoured for a distinguished contribution to research in 2011.

In his address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of College, Professor John Mubangizi, applauded the staff for their dedication towards ensuring that the College reached its milestones resulting in research increasing by 26 percent, postgraduate enrolments increasing by 9 percent and an improvement in the Staff PhD Project from 55 percent to 65 percent for 2010-2011.

‘These people are capable of working anywhere but they have dedicated their years to UKZN and we thank them for their hard work and effort they have put in at the College over the years. Their excellence and contribution in their roles in governance, leadership and increasing research is appreciated,’ said Mubangizi.

The Long Service Awards were presented to Professor Dev Tewari, Ms Lynn Naidu, Ms Munira Osman-Hyder, Ms Nadira Sewnarain, Ms Nicola Whitear-Nel, Ms Nain Ramdas, Dr Pregala Pillay and Mrs Nadira Sewnarain in recognition of 15 years of service at the University. Professor Tanya Woker received an award for 25 years of service. 

The Awards of Research Excellence were awarded to Professor Shannon Hoctor, Mr Michael Buthelezi and Ms Nicola Whitear-Nel of the School of Law; Professor Manoj Maharaj and Professor Sanjana Perusamur of the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance and Professor Dev Tewari from the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.

Commenting on his achievement, Tewari said: ‘I feel great about receiving the two awards. Fifteen years is a long time - an important part of my life has been spent in the service of UKZN. The University has a good incentive system  in place for researchers and my early training and experience with a number organisations that I worked for inspired me to remain motivated.’

Whitear-Nel agreed, adding that her job kept her stimulated and abreast of current affairs which helped generate a steady flow of ideas.

‘I am constantly exposed to good writing which has helped me develop my own writing style. I enjoy the writing process but it still takes many drafts and many false starts to produce the final document. I am fortunate to have very supportive colleagues who are always willing to provide guidance and encouragement which is invaluable, and for which I cannot thank them enough,’ she said.

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A sparkling Gauteng spring morning greeted me and about another 27 000 carbo-loaded cyclists ready to take on the concrete jungle of downtown Johannesburg in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge - one of the last major races on the 2012 cycling calendar.

“Jozi” (as Johannesburg is affectionately known) came alive as the city welcomed the participants with pockets of supporters giving encouragement all along the 94km route.

The race was not without thrills and spills with the many uphills forcing riders to dig deep in the glaring Highveld heat. However, for those of us fortunate enough to have trained on the hills of KwaZulu-Natal this did not present major problems and then there were fast downhills which gave us the opportunity to appreciate the serenity of the concrete jungle.

Cycling is one of the fastest growing sports in this country and probably the world.

For me, 2012 has been an absolutely amazing journey and experience. After taking part in the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, the Amashova and several other iconic races, the Momentum was truly a fitting end to my cycling year.

 I look forward to the 2013 cycling calendar which is expected to be bigger than ever. A special word of thanks to every member of the Green Office Cycling Team and the UKZN Corporate Relations team for their support. 

Mr Mxolisi Ncube, Schools Liaison and Student Recruitment, Corporate Relations Division, UKZN.

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A group of about 20 medical specialists from Durban and Pietermaritzburg teaching hospitals affiliated with the College of Health Sciences attended a recent live animal workshop hosted by UKZN’s Biomedical Resource Unit (BRU) where they were trained to conduct minimally invasive (MIS), minimal access (MAS) or keyhole surgery.

In the modern surgical technique - also known as laparoscopic surgery –the surgeon operates through tiny incisions in the abdomen as opposed to the larger incisions needed in laparotomy.

Laparoscopic surgery involves a video camera attached to a telescope being introduced through an incision while operating instruments are introduced through one or more other incisions. The surgeon operates through these incisions, viewing an on-screen magnified, high-resolution digital image of the surgical site.

Mimicking surgical procedures that would be carried out in a hospital on humans, Dr Sanil Singh, Head of the BRU, said the pig was an ideal model for the training because of its close resemblance to human anatomy and physiology.

The BRU team was responsible for facilitating the workshop, ensuring that the pigs were adequately sedated for general anaesthesia and for various surgical procedures conducted in a pain free environment.

In addition to its high-end facilities, the BRU was supplied with the relevant equipment by various medically affiliated companies Stryker Pty Ltd, Babcock Healthcare, Legacy Medical and Respiratory Care Africa (Pty) Ltd.

Mr Balon Ramsamy of the Stryker Corporation, a leader in the worldwide orthopaedic market and one of the world’s largest medical device companies, spoke about the importance of training competent surgeons. He said South Africa already had many skilled surgeons and it was important to train them locally, especially in laparoscopic surgery.

During the training, workshop participants captured images and the entire surgical process could be taken away in the form of DVDs for later referral.

‘The exposure and training we received here allows us to improve our skills and become exposed to alternatives that are good for patient outcomes and surgeons as well,’ said Mr Llewllyn Pillay, a surgeon at Greys Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

‘By attending such workshops surgeons increase their chances of finding equipment that they would be most comfortable with.’

It is envisaged that the BRU will host more similar workshops to meet the demand for training and retraining surgical registrars and consultants.

Professor Bhagwan Singh, a Professor of surgery at UKZN and Chief Specialist at King Edward VIII Hospital, said laparoscopic surgery was becoming an increasingly favourable option for undertaking various surgical procedures globally.

‘Many components of surgery were covered in the workshop. BRU has pioneered workshops of this nature since 1992. Its facilities are outstanding and the centre is almost unparalleled in the country in terms of layout and equipment.’

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The Teaching and Learning Office in collaboration with the Research Portfolio and other stake holders hosted a Southern African Regional Colloquium on Methodologies and Epistemologies for Integrating Indigenous African Knowledge Systems (IAKS) Research and Teaching into Higher Education.

The event drew support and partnership from stakeholders such as the National Indigenous knowledge Systems (IKS) Office in the National Department of Science and Technology, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the Institute for African Renaissance Studies.  It was attended by a number of academics and intellectuals from different African institutions and government sectors.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research: Professor Nelson Ijumba, who made the opening remarks on behalf of Vice-Chancellor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, applauded IKS and encouraged the group of professors present to ensure that it became a successful programme. ‘IKS is one of the signature projects in UKZN and the University management supports it in terms of finance, infrastructure and human capital,’ said Ijumba.

The colloquium focused on issues such as the integration of IKS in Higher Education research, teaching and learning; the impact of culture and language on research, teaching and learning; the role of African intellectuals in the indigenisation of Higher Education as well as the technologies in IKS, teaching and learning.

UKZN has joined many other Southern African research institutions which are designing initiatives to integrate IAKS into research, teaching community engagement in line with aspirations of an African led globalisation. A group of professors at the institution is working on introducing IAKS academic programmes that will cover undergraduate to postgraduate levels with the aim being to make Higher Education more relevant to the socio-economic developmental challenges of the African continent.

‘We are working towards creating modules for IAKS - there’s already a task team focusing on this and the programme has received approval from SAQA,’ said Mrs Joyce Myeza, UKZN Head of Special Collections and part of the IAKS planning team. ‘The committee is busy working on the content for the modules and will soon introduce IAKS as an academic programme for all levels.’

The Director of IKS, Professor Hassan Kaya, confirmed that IAKS would soon be introduced as an academic programme which would cater for all students and have streams such as Arts and Culture as well as Science and Technology.

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Three chemistry technicians based on the Pietermaritzburg campus of UKZN’s School of Chemistry and Physics recently enjoyed a very different work experience.

Ms Prudence Lubanyana, Mr Bheki Dlamini and Mr Mvuselelo Gumede were invited by the Analytical Science division of SASOL Technologies Research & Development section to visit its giant production facilities in Sasolburg.

They spent two days at SASOL Technology where they were given training by senior research scientists in instrumental techniques, including Inductively Couple Plasma (ICP) spectroscopy, and Mass Spectrometry.

All agreed it had been a very successful training intervention.  ‘We will be doing this again with more people next year,’ said Academic Leader for Research in the School of Chemistry and Physics, Professor Ross Robinson.  ‘This is a mutually beneficial partnership and an ongoing process.’

SASOL is an international integrated energy and chemical production company that develops and commercialises technologies.  It produces a range of product streams including liquid fuels, chemicals and electricity.  

Robinson said SASOL was a key industrial partner for the School, being an important donor, a major employer of graduates and a rewarding partner in several collaborative research projects.

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Mr Dennis Dawson, the only surviving staff member of the former University College at Salisbury Island in Durban, was hosted by Professor Kriben Pillay and Dr Uma Mahesvari Naidu in recognition of their long association with him.

Dawson, who retires at the end of this year after 43 years' service with UKZN, is currently the Manager of Printing on the Westville campus, having started as a messenger.

Pillay recalled his association with Dawson which began 1986 when he joined UDW as a Lecturer in the Drama Department.

'Dennis was exceptional in the way he managed the huge volumes of printing for Drama – from course materials to production programmes and research publications. During the course of these interactions we became good friends and he could always be relied upon to do last minute printing runs, which was always the case in the highly fluid environment of the Drama Department, which also had a semi-professional touring theatre company that had constant printing needs.’

Pillay also recalled that Dawson ensured that the final product was very professional, even during the early days when the equipment was not as sophisticated as it is today.

Naidu said Dawson had through the years personally helped ensure that issues of the Sapse-accredited journal, Nidan, were printed and bound and circulated to the list of subscribers. ‘He was always professional and friendly, and meticulous in the attention he gave to both the work and the person bringing in the work. His disarming response to any form of thank you was to offer it back to the “Big Guy” above, saying that the pleasure the work gave him was all the thanks he needed!’

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The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science honoured dedicated and committed staff members at functions on the Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses.

Professor Deo Jaganyi, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College, welcomed those receiving awards and presented each of them with framed certificates and a personal token of appreciation from the College. Awards were given to staff members who had served UKZN for either 15 or 25 years.

Jaganyi, who received his own 15 year award in 2010, expressed his admiration for those who had made the 25 year mark, joking that they had served the University for so long, it was very unlikely that they would leave anytime soon!

The events also doubled as a tribute for staff members retiring soon.

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Abafundi bezobuthishela baphothule izifundo zabo zeBiological Science for Educators 420 ngenqunquthela yocwaningo nezokusebenza ebibanjelwe esikhungweni sase-Edgewood.

Ngalesikhathi lesifundo sifundise abafundi ukucwaninga ngeSayensi uma besebenza nemiphakathi. Inhloso yalenqunquthela bekukukhangisa ngocwaningo lwabafundi nabakufunde ekusebenzeni nemiphakathi, nokuqhakambisa ucwaningo olwenziwa abafundi nokubagqugquzela ukuba ngabacwaningi emagumbini abo okufundisa.

Izihloko ebezihamba phambili bezibheka kakhulu ukuxazulula izinkinga zempilo nenhlalakahle, ezendalo kanye nezinqinamba ezibhekene nabantu abakhubazekile ngezindlela ezahlukene.

Abaphathi abasebenza nabafundi ngesikhathi benza amaphrojekthi abo bebemenyiwe nabo kulenqunquthela.  Bakujabulele ukuzimisela kwabafundi emsebenzini wabo baphinda bakujabulela ukuba yingxenye yalengunguthela.

Bathe lamaphrojekthi aveze ulwazi oluningi oluzobasiza nabo ezinkampanini zabo ngokuhamba kwesikhathi.  ‘Akusikho nje kuphela ukuthi benzeni kodwa ukuthi bashiyeni ngemuva,’ kusho oyedwa wabaphathi.

Omunye wabaphathi uncome uNksz Seshni Naidoo ngomsebenzi wakhe nabantu abanesifo sokukhubazeka iCerebral Palsy. Uthe uNaidoo ubanikeze ukunakekela ngisho abantu ababagadayo abangenaso isikhathi sokubanikeza. ‘Lokhu kunikeze iziguli ugqozi kwaba nobungcono ekunyakazeni kwamalunga omzimba angasenhla okukhombisa ikusasa elihle lokunakekela abantu kulendawo,’ kusho umphathi.

Bekhumbula imisebenzi yabo bathe lesisifundo sibenze babuka izinto ngelinye ihlo sabenza bacabange ngezinye izindlela. Noma kubenezinqinamba, kodwa babe nokukhula emisebenzini yabo nasezimpilweni zabo.

UMnu Lungani Magwaza uthe lokhu kufanele kube yinto bonke abafundi abangakaqedi ukuba bayenze ngaphambi kokuba bathole iziqu zabo.

Bonke abafundi badlulisele ukubonga kwabo ngoxhaso abalutholile kumfundisi zobuthishela uDkt Angela James nomsizi wabafundi uNksz Anele Ndlovu.

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An international team led by UKZN’s Professor Imraan Valodia met at the Tala Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal recently to analyse the first wave of results of their three-year research project into the informal economy of 10 cities – including Durban.

The cities are Ahmedabad, Pune, Lahore, Bangkok, Bogota, Lima, Belo Horizonte, Accra, Nakuru and Durban.

‘The initial results of The Informal Economy Monitoring Study (IEMS) appear to be very exciting,’ said Valodia of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (SBEDS).

‘In Lahore, for example, the data showed that high levels of inflation have had a major negative impact on the livelihoods of informal traders. In Pune, India, the data showed that local city regulations, by-laws and restrictions (for example, related to the removal of waste collection bins) were negatively affecting the workers’ ability to earn an income.

‘The results of the study will be used to raise the profile of the informal economy in local, national, and international policy debates, and will provide reliable indicators of the state of the urban informal economy, and the impact of economic and social policies on workers in the informal economy,’ said Valodia.

This study provides an in-depth assessment, on a longitudinal basis, of the state of the urban informal workforce and how it is affected by economic trends, urban policies and practices, and value chain dynamics in three informal economy occupations: street vending, home-based work, and waste collecting.

Research teams in each of the 10 cities used a combination of focus groups and surveys to collect the first round of data over the period June-October 2012. Before this, the teams met in Durban in April to work jointly on the methodology used for the city.

The project will be undertaken in the 10 cities in two rounds over three years, with the second round of data collection planned for 2014. Valodia will be working with colleagues on the research outputs for Round 1 of the data.

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Facilitators from the School of Life Sciences’ Peer Teaching/Learning Experience Programme (PTLEP), as well as university residence mentors, recently visited Sinevuso Secondary School in Ixopo. 

The outreach initiative, organised by PTLEP programme co-ordinator Mr Seth Hakizimana, was aimed at motivating Grade 12 learners.  

In a fun and interactive session, the facilitators advised the youngsters to learn from, and teach each other, in preparation for their forthcoming Matric exams.

After the formal programme, facilitators and learners mingled over drinks, which gave the pupils the opportunity to seek one-on-one advice and to be inspired by the personal experiences of the UKZN mentors.

‘We would like to express our appreciation to UKZN for motivating our Grade12 learners,’ said Mr BM Mkhize, Principal of Sinevuso Secondary School. ‘Young souls speak better to other young ones, and it is a good start.’

Mkhize said that the initiative had stimulated the pupils’ interest in their school work, as well as making them realise that socio-economic constraints should not stop them following their ambitions for Higher Education.

‘As a rural school we really welcome this UKZN initiative,’ said Mkhize.  ‘We look forward to building a partnership that will uplift the poor and underprivileged rural child.’

On behalf of the initiative, Hakizimana thanked UKZN’s Residence Life Team and the School of Life Sciences for their financial support of the event.

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Discussions took place recently on the role of the Teaching and Learning Unit at the College of Law and Management and how it could be extended and developed.

The inquiry involved the University Dean of Teaching and Learning from Edge Hill University in the United Kingdom, Professor Mark Schofield, and the academic staff at the Unit and Professor Kriben Pillay, the College Dean of Teaching and Learning.

In particular, the conversation focused on the relationship between the Unit and the Schools in the College asking questions such as: Are academic staff aware of the actions and the activities that are undertaken by the Unit? Is the Unit seen as the place where students are sent to be fixed? What is the future of the Unit? How is the Unit making itself visible in the College?

Schofield supported the Unit’s role in the professional development of staff after hearing about the actions currently underway to observe staff lecturing and have post lecture discussions.

Schofield asked how could this gain traction among academics, how could it be scaled up and extended across Schools, and how could more people be involved?

He shared his vast experience of similar units in the UK and how some of them overcame marginalisation and developed identities that were integral to their universities’ vision and mission.

Schofield’s visit to the Teaching and Learning Unit was the result of Pillay visiting Edge Hill in June 2012.

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The School of Life Sciences hosted a successful and busy Recruitment Day at the Westville campus for Microbiology, Biochemistry and Genetics students.

During his opening address, the Dean and Head of School, Professor Sam Mukaratirwa, encouraged undergraduate students to pursue their postgraduate studies in the School of Life Sciences.

The event provided a very interactive platform where students were encouraged to ask questions pertaining to job opportunities, research areas and funding possibilities.

Representatives from Roche, Unilever and the Technology Innovation Agency were on hand to give students information about opportunities in their organisations.

Dr Bubuya Masola and Dr Hafizah Chenia provided students with an in-depth presentation on the research areas within the Biotechnology Group, while Professor Bala Pillay gave details about the funding prospects available for postgraduate studies.

Pillay said he was impressed with the attendance and was confident that student numbers applying for postgraduate studies would increase in 2013. ‘I would like to thank each and every person who participated in ensuring the success of this event,’ he said.

The programme was closed by Academic Leader for Biotechnology, Dr Ademola Olaniran, who thanked all participants and the organisers.

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