AGRICULTURAL BIODIVERSITY PRACTICES EMPOWERING PEOPLE IN UMBUMBULU

AGRICULTURAL BIODIVERSITY PRACTICES EMPOWERING PEOPLE IN UMBUMBULU

The rural community of Umbumbulu in KwaZulu-Natal was recently given the opportunity to participate in a hands-on research project led by Professor Albert Modi, Dean of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

This outreach initiative forms part of a mission to encourage rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal to explore agricultural biodiversity as an innovative way to achieve food security and improve their general quality of life, while also managing the negative impacts of alien invasive plant species in the region.

‘In the context of the current debate about land redistribution, food insecurity and poverty in South Africa, it is critical for communities to be educated and empowered to make sustainable decisions regarding their livelihoods,’ explained Modi.

The approach is in line with the government’s National Development Strategy and National Development Plan Vision for 2030, which mandates the overall improvement of the quality of life of South Africans.

A focus on rural people is regarded vital as those communities maintain access to land that can be used to ensure food security and the generation of livelihoods without relying solely on government.

The National Integrated Food Security Strategy (IFSS) calls for an increase in the number of households which can productively undertake sustainable agricultural practices for themselves and for trade purposes. Rural land, however, faces the threat of encroachment by alien plants, reducing food security for marginalised communities. 

‘Under the mentorship of Professor Modi, we have been able to remove unwanted, alien plants and replace them with useful vegetables, indigenous trees and medicinal plants, creating a food source for our community and the possibility of jobs as we begin to harvest for commercial use,’ said Mrs Babongile Mkhize.

Modi, a GreenMatter Senior Fellow, believes that encouraging rural communities to better understand the link between indigenous knowledge and science allows practical strategies to be swiftly implemented in areas such as organic vegetable production and integrated pest management systems.

This approach requires commitment towards educating and sharing knowledge with these communities.


author email : Maraisb@ukzn.ac.za

FESTIVAL’S OPENING NIGHT FILM BANNED

FESTIVAL’S OPENING NIGHT FILM BANNED

Authorities forced the withdrawal of the opening night film of the 34th Durban International Film Festival, the much-anticipated Of Good Report Directed by Jahmil XT Qubeka, ruling that it contained a child pornography scene.

Instead of the opening credits the following words were displayed: ‘This film has been refused classification by the Film and Publication Board, in terms of the Film and Publications Act of 1996. Unfortunately we may not legally screen the film, Of Good Report, as doing so would constitute a criminal offence.’

The film is about a small town, high school teacher with a penchant for young girls and delves deep into the soul of the mentally troubled man. Problems for the protagonist, Parker Sithole, begin when he meets the gorgeous Nolitha Ngubane at a local tavern and begins an affair with her. However, Nolitha is one of Parker’s pupils and is just 16 years old. Parker quickly spirals into lethal obsession.

The Manager of the film festival, Peter Machen, announced on the night: ‘Unfortunately, the Film and Publication Board has refused to allow the release of Of Good Report. According to their communication, the film contains a scene which constitutes child pornography and we are unable to legally show the film. I am very sorry about this. Out of respect for the Director of the film, we will not be showing an alternative film tonight.

‘We chose the film because it was challenging, powerful and artistically successful, and particularly because it was such a strong expression of an individual voice,’ said Machen. ‘It presents a story of a very real and troubling social problem of rampant abuse of position in our country.’

Qubeka, who taped his mouth shut, chose not to comment as an act of defiance. His wife, Dr Lwazi Manzi, spoke on his behalf saying she encountered incidents daily during her duties as a Doctor at a government hospital of young women being abused by older men. ‘Just because they (the Board) don’t want to see it (the film), does not mean it (the abuse) does not happen,’ she said. ‘We shall not talk about it. I am very proud of my husband, and the cast and crew. This is a pivotal day in the history of film in our country, one which will resonate in history.’

Professor Cheryl Potgieter, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities at UKZN - under whose curatorship the organisers of the Festival, The Centre for Creative Arts, is a special project – said: ‘We chose to not show another film in deference to the filmmaker, and to ensure there was critical mass to carry this debate and discourse forward.’

Qubeka and UKZN intend to appeal against the decision, failing which, the Producer, Mike Auret, himself a lawyer, will take the matter to the Constitutional Court. Auret said: ‘It is not the function of state to moralise.’

The festival screenings of all other films will continue as planned. For more information about DIFF go to www.durbanfilmfest.co.za


author email : Mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN HOSTS SAICA DEVELOPMENT CAMP

UKZN HOSTS SAICA DEVELOPMENT CAMP

About 260 Grade 12 pupils from disadvantaged schools in KwaZulu-Natal attended the South African Institute of Charted Accountants (SAICA) Development Camp on UKZN’s Westville campus.

The Camp provided additional tuition in mathematics, economics and accounting, physical science and English adopting an all-inclusive teaching and learning approach by delivering a curriculum with substantial extra learning opportunities for pupils with outstanding potential.

Pupils are selected based on their academic performance and they must be Thuthuka Bursary Fund applicants.

SAICA’s Transformation and Growth Project Manager, Mr Xolela Sohuma, said as SAICA continued to transform and develop the chartered accountancy profession, it continuously worked towards formulating innovative and proven education methodology.

‘We have partnered with the University of KwaZulu-Natal in one of the SAICA transformation flagship projects where we took more than 200 learners from previously disadvantage backgrounds to assist them to improve their mathematics, physics, accounting and English.

 ‘I am proud to say that we have 98 percent attendance and more than 60 percent of these learners have applied to the Thuthuka Bursary fund. We congratulate the University of KwaZulu-Natal for its commitment in developing local academic talent and also ploughing back to our communities,’ said Sohuma.

While the programme concentrates on teaching and learning it also creates a platform for pupils to participate in activities such as life skills workshops, where facilitators help motivate the learners and develop the key skills identified as underdeveloped in African learners such as soft skills, numeracy, entrepreneurship, study skills and examination techniques.

The Camp concluded with a gala dinner where the students were addressed by KwaZulu-Natal MEC of Finance, Ms Ina Cronje, who applauded the initiative and the success of the Thuthuka Bursary fund in motivating pupils to become charted accountants.

‘This year, we aim to award 50 learners from KwaZulu-Natal with bursaries to study towards becoming chartered accountants who will then work in KwaZulu-Natal districts - in particular where each bursary recipient comes from - to bolster the capacity of the provincial department.

‘We want you, who are from the province, to benefit from this initiative and at the same time give back. Thus, you are development and in your development, the province and South Africa are made better places to live and work in,’ said Cronje.

Sandile Khumalo, a Grade 12 pupil at Umlazi’s Mbizweni High School, said he was grateful for the useful information he acquired through the programme. ‘The information I have received from this programme has not only helped me be better prepared for my studies in class but it has also informed me about which career to pursue.

‘The teachers who taught us were motivated and inspiring as they answered all the questions we had and gave us great techniques to help us cope with the examinations. Now I am well prepared for my final examinations,’ said Khumalo.


author email : jumo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN JOINS IN BOTANIC GARDENS’ CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

UKZN JOINS IN BOTANIC GARDENS’ CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

UKZN academics and students were at the Botanic Gardens to celebrate the centenary of the renowned horticultural attraction on Durban’s Berea.

Speaking during the event, permaculturist Mr Jabulani Memele, chartered the history of the gardens, explaining that in 1849 they had been the site of a research institute, eventually being handed over to the city in 1913.

Memele said the present goals of the gardens involved conservation and education efforts within the greater Durban community.

Representatives of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science took part in the celebrations while Dr Megandran Govender, Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Astrophysics and an Astrophysicist attached to the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit, entertained the crowd with a lively version of his popular show titled: “So you thought Einstein was a Genius”.

‘The idea was to take science to the masses by way of simple demonstrations in the areas of fluid flow, mechanics, waves and thinking out of the box experiments. These demonstrations appeal to all, both young and old,’ explained Govender.

Five enthusiastic Life Sciences Cryo-preservation students were also present. They educated the public about the best way to preserve plants and seeds for future generations.

UKZN’s Tanja Reinhardt of the Science and Technology Education Centre showed the crowds various forms of renewable Energy including the demonstration of a hydro fuel cell.

The Durban Botanic Gardens is the oldest surviving botanic gardens on the African continent and UKZN recognises its value as a landmark site in the city’s diverse landscape.


author email : Maraisb@ukzn.ac.za

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADIBA!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADIBA!

UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science celebrated Madiba’s birthday in style.

The 18th of July, the day on which Nelson Mandela turned 95, was chosen especially to launch Dr Maths before about 1 000 high school pupils on UKZN’s Westville campus.

Dr Maths is an innovative maths tutoring programme run under the auspices of UKZN, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Through the programme, high school learners receive remote but interactive mathematics tutoring.  The service provides real time support and assistance with mathematics homework and revision from real human tutors while learners receive mathematics tutoring on their cell phones, via the Mxit network or Google Chat on android phones.

UKZN organised a series of science, engineering and technology shows presented by its talented cohort of lecturers with the enthralled audience of youngsters being treated to impressive displays of bangs and flashes, all conducted along strictly scientific lines.

Whilst an enthusiastic choir of schoolchildren led the packed auditorium in singing - Africa style - the South African National Anthem and Happy Birthday, College Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Bala Pillay, officially cut the Madiba cake in the presence of five lucky pupils who share a birthday with Madiba.

‘As a University, we have a responsibility to contribute to raising the standard of maths education among high school learners,’ said Pillay.  ‘This is essential if pupils are to be equipped with the necessary skills to cope with university maths.  The Dr Maths programme is an innovative solution that aims to do just that.’


author email : frosts@ukzn.ac.za

U-ESKOM UVAKASHELE E-UKZN

U-ESKOM UVAKASHELE E-UKZN

Izihambeli zase-Eskom nakwaGlobal Interface Consulting zivakashele epaki elibizwa ngokuthi iScience and Technology Innovation Park (STIP) esikhungweni saseWestville e-UKZN.

ISTIP yase-UKZN isungulwe kanye no-Eskom ekuthuthukiseni ucwaningo lokuthuthukisa impahla nokusungulwa kwamasu amasha kwenziwa ngokubambisana.

Bemukelwa iPhini likaSekela-Mphathi kwezoCwaningo zeNyuvesi  uSolwazi Nelson Ijumba, izihambeli zivakashele izindawo ezintathu ezikhona kuleli paki.

Isungulwe ngo2002, lendawo enamandla kagesi amakhulu iHigh-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Centre ibheka iHVDC njengenye yezindlela zokuhambisa ugesi kunezindlela lezi ezijwayelekile.

“Kulomkhankaso, iUKZN isimake indawo yobuhlakani locwaningo nokuqeqeshwa lweHVDC eNingizimu Afrika, ngaphansi kwePower Plant Engineering Institute (EPPEI) Programme yakwa-Eskom,’ kusho u-Ijumba.

IVibration Research and Training Centre (VRTC) yavulwa ngo2004 ukubheka umthelela ukunqanqazela okunakho ezintambeni zikagesi.

Ibhilidi locwaningo iSmart Grid linendawo kagesi eyamuva ebizwa ngeSmart Grid. Lendawo iyona eqoqa ulwazi ibheke ukuthi ugesi usetshenziswa ngendlela yini ibheka ukusebenza nokudingakala.

Lendawo ibuye ibe nendlela yokubona amandla avela kwezinye izindlela zokuphehla ugesi okwenza ugesi ukwazi ukutholakala kubantu abaningi. Lolucwaningo luzosiza ekuxazululeni izinkinga ezibhekene namandla kagesi eNingizimu Afrika.

Eskom ufake imali eyizigidi ezingu25 zamarandi (R25 million) ekuthuthukisweni kweSTIP Futhi ibona abakaka imali enkulu uma kuziwa kumifundaze esesikoleni sobuNjiniyela.

Click here for English version



author email : Maraisb@ukzn.ac.za

ANNUAL REGISTRAR RESEARCH DAY A SUCCESS

ANNUAL REGISTRAR RESEARCH DAY A SUCCESS

Twelve registrars from the College of Health Sciences’ Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) delivered research presentations before a panel of judges, academics and colleagues at this year’s Annual Registrar Research Day on the Medical School campus.

Their studies were conducted in KwaZulu-Natal-based tertiary hospitals as part of the registrar programme.

Dr Rochelle Pillay scooped first prize for an audit she conducted of the interpretation of intrapartum cardiotocographs by health care professionals in the Pietermaritzburg area, while Dr Kas Govender secured second place for her study which focused on the prevalence of low bone mass density in young women presenting with amenorrhoea – the absence of menstrual bleeding at a reproductive age.

Prolonged amenorrhoea indicates low oestrogen levels - oestrogen is the hormone which also helps women to absorb calcium.

Govender’s study found that women with amenorrhoea were an at-risk population for osteoporosis - a bone disease - which she said was a major public health concern needing early recognition, diagnosis and treatment in country.

The third prize went to Dr Emmanuel Sibanda whose study assessed the knowledge, attitudes and practices of health professionals in Pietermaritzburg public health institutions on emergency contraception (EC). The study found that although participants had some knowledge of EC, they lacked accurate information hence there was a need to address this in order to improve patient care and combat KwaZulu-Natal’s infectious disease burden.

Professor Jayanthilall Bagratee, who heads the O&G Discipline, said research played a critical role in improving the health and wellbeing of women and infants globally. It also focused the sister professions on addressing the specific challenges and needs of the province and country.

Bagratee said this was in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6 which aim for the significant reduction of child mortality, improved maternal health and combating major diseases by 2015.

The judges lauded Dr Okezie Ameachina, a Registrar at King Edward VIII Hospital (KEH VIII), who conducted a “topical” cross-sectional survey of patients’ attitudes to vaginal examination (VE) chaperone at KEH VIII Hospital.

Participants felt that this was an intimate and intimidating examination, with the majority reporting that nurses, and sometimes mothers, were preferred chaperones; especially if the healthcare practitioners were men.

Other topics included: “an audit of perinatal outcomes in HIV infected and non-infected teenagers in a regional hospital in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal”; “the prevalence of precancerous cervical lesions in pregnancy at KEH VIII in HIV positive and negative patients”; and “a clinical profile of women with symptomatic fibroid uteri in Durban”.


author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

CLINICAL HIV AND AIDS TRAINING PROGRAMME FOR NURSES

CLINICAL HIV AND AIDS TRAINING PROGRAMME FOR NURSES

About 200 nurses from various health districts in KwaZulu-Natal who are enrolled at UKZN for Primary Health Care Nursing received training on the Howard College campus during two consecutive five-day courses on the clinical management of HIV and AIDS.

The training on Nurse Initiated Management of Antiretroviral Treatment (NIMART) was facilitated by the Enhancing Care Initiative (ECI) together with the Nursing Discipline as part of the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) deliverables for 2013.

NIMART addresses South Africa’s growing demand for antiretroviral treatment in public health facilities, assisting doctors to meet patient needs for HIV care as projected by the Department of Health.

The nurses were addressed by Professor Busi Ncama, Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health, before leading academics guided them through the comprehensive training programme.

They learned about the virology of HIV from Dr Kerusha Govender who explained the viral structure and life cycle of HIV, its diagnosis, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing and Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).

Professor Koleka Mlisana, Head of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Infection Control, focused on the natural history and pathogenesis of acute and chronic HIV, its staging and opportunistic infections in adults.

Dr Rosie Mngqibisa from the ECI covered antiretroviral therapy in adults as well as the principles of the South African National ARV Treatment Guidelines for Adults. 

The course encompassed confidentiality and informed consent as part of legal and ethical considerations for HIV and AIDS. This was presented by Dr Kantharuben Naidoo from the Discipline of Family Medicine, who also lectured on palliative medicine in HIV and AIDS.

Professor Umesh Lalloo, the MEPI grant’s communicating Principle Investigator (PI), delved into the epidemiology of HIV and TB as well as HIV and TB co-infection. He concentrated on the diseases’ clinical features and diagnosis as well as the necessity of an effective TB control programme, TB and highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), infection control and mycobacterial resistance.

The country’s new STI Guidelines, transmission dynamics, epidemiology and prevention issues in HIV (including circumcision) were presented by Dr Sandy Pillay, Unit Manager of research programmes for ECI. The course also covered important topics such as HIV and Nutrition, HIV and Women, HIV in Children, as well as nurse practitioner assessment of the HIV-infected patient – all of which were deemed highly beneficial by the nurses.

A pre-and post-course assessment and evaluation was conducted and participants received certificates at the end of the training. The programme was administered and co-ordinated by MEPI’s Prinesh Gounden.


author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS SET FOR SUMMER SCHOOL IN GERMANY

POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS SET FOR SUMMER SCHOOL IN GERMANY

The School of Management, Information Technology and Governance (MIT&G) recently met with its postgraduate students who have been selected to attend the American-African-European (AAE) Summer School Programme in Germany.

The students are: Mr Chesarae Pillay (BCom Honours Information Systems and Technology), Mr Asaad Manjoo (BCom Honours Marketing), Ms Beatrice Mnambooze (BCom Honours in Human Resources Management), Ms Rethabile Tsekedi (BCom Honours in Information Systems and Technology), Mr Clive Buxeka (Bachelor of Administration Honours), Mr Lungelo Msomi (Bachelor of Administration Honours) and Ms Chiara Portab (BCom Honours in Marketing).

They will travel to Germany’s Chemnitz University of Technology in September for the programme which promotes international collaborative scholarly work opportunities between UKZN and partnering universities.

Dean and Head of the School, Professor Henry Wissink, wished the students well and encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunity by exploring research possibilities and upholding the School’s reputation as a leader in providing responsible management education.

Professor Kriben Pillay, the College Dean of Teaching and Learning, encouraged the students to write an essay on their experience from a teaching and learning perspective.

‘These exchanges make students aware of the differences in the education provided by various institutions. In the essay we want the students to share what they learned through this experience and contextualise it within their discipline. This will ensure the rest of the University community also benefits from their learning experience,’ said Pillay.

Tsekedi, who will travel abroad for the first time, said: ‘It is such an honour for us to be chosen by the School and the University to be their ambassadors. This is not only a great learning opportunity but also a chance to grow socially and culturally. I cannot wait to get to Germany.’

Mr Taahir Vajeth, Senior Lecturer and Academic Leader, is currently preparing to accompany them, and giving the students guidance on what awaits them in Germany.


author email : jumo@ukzn.ac.za

PUTTING SMILES ON CHILDREN’S FACES

PUTTING SMILES ON CHILDREN’S FACES

A marching band of UKZN final-year Medical students visited the paediatric wards of King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban on Mandela Day providing fun for everyone.

Medical student Mr Qiniso Mlita said the day - arranged with the Clinical Head of the hospital’s Paediatrics Unit, Dr Kimesh Naidoo - was ‘dedicated to making children happy’.

The students, who are all in the paediatrics rotation of the MBChB Programme, felt that putting smiles on children’s faces was totally in the spirit of the day.

Class representative, Ms Reshania Naidoo, said doctors could naturally become very clinical in treating patients and the day’s activities were an opportunity for them to play and interact with the youngsters. ‘It is very heart-warming to see the children behind the patients.’

Naidoo said it was “wonderful” that the hospital was home to the new BHP Billiton Paediatric Centre of Excellence.

While some of the children lined up to have their faces painted others dashed for the colouring books and the very young were excited by the colours of the balloons.

Hospital staff were impressed to see that so many student doctors were talented singers and guitarists who sang the National Anthem with gusto.


author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

ISIXHOSA BOOKS LAUNCHED AT THE GRAHAMSTOWN FESTIVAL

ISIXHOSA BOOKS LAUNCHED AT THE GRAHAMSTOWN FESTIVAL

New Readers Publishers (NRP), based at the Centre for Adult Education at UKZN, recently hosted a celebratory launch for their new isiXhosa books at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

Speaking at the event, NRP Project Manager Ms Sonya Keyser said the books, written for newly literate adults, aimed to develop a love of reading for pleasure. She reminded the audience that in order for books to be published in local languages, they had to be bought and that commercial publishers could not afford to publish books that did not sell. 

‘NRP is able to publish in local languages only because it is a non-profit organisation which receives support from UKZN,’ said Keyser.

The programme started with a reading of Ndimfumene! written by Sindiwe Magona. The book was sensitively read by a volunteer - Xolela Qinela - from Umthathi Training Centre in Grahamstown. The story focused on infidelity and one woman’s refusal to do what was expected. The professionally executed illustrations were shown to the audience during the reading.

Two of the authors participated in the event – Tsepiso Nzayo and Sonwabile Mfecane.

Nzayo’s book, Iileta zikaNjongo is about a young man who falls in love with a woman he sees in the fields, but he never gets an opportunity to express his love for her so he writes her beautiful love letters.

‘The fact that this story can be read by beginner readers is testament to Nzayo’s skill and talent,’ said Keyser. ‘Nzayo read the book aloud to the audience while the illustrations were projected onto a screen behind him. The audience was touched by the young man’s way with words,’ Keyser said.

Nzayo’s story was the inspiration for another aspect of the book launch - a love letter writing competition prize giving. Entries for the competition were solicited in the months prior to this event. 

Teacher Mr Velile Patrick Msipa from Nomzamo High, a rural high school near Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape, accepted the book prizes on behalf of three of his Grade 12 learners.

An improvised dramatisation of Sonwabile Mfecane’s story - Ixhoba  - was performed. This hilarious tale is about how two con men try to extort money from the owner of dogs who they claim bit them on their way home from a night vigil.

NRP also showcased their new boxed set of nine isiXhosa books containing three simple, three intermediate and three relatively advanced stories in a variety of genres.

‘This is a very inexpensive and simple box library and if we could put at least one in every isiXhosa adult literacy class in the country, it would go a long way towards developing reading fluency in isiXhosa,’ said Keyser.


author email : Mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN COMPUTER SCIENCE LECTURER ATTENDS PRESTIGIOUS DAGSTUHL SEMINAR

UKZN COMPUTER SCIENCE LECTURER ATTENDS PRESTIGIOUS DAGSTUHL SEMINAR

Dr Maria Keet, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, was chosen to attend the prestigious seminar programme at Schloss Dagstuhl of the Leibniz Centre for Informatics in Saarland, Germany.

Schloss Dagstuhl is described as ‘the world’s premier venue for informatics - a place where world-class scientists, promising young researchers and practitioners come together to exchange their knowledge and to discuss their research findings’.

Participants are chosen by the seminar organisers according to the significance of their on-going scientific contributions to the seminar’s topic. This seminar involved research focused on automated reasoning on conceptual schemas. 

Keet presented new results on “an ontology-driven unifying metamodel for UML class diagrams, EER, and ORM2” which will form the basis for the formalisation of the conceptual modelling languages.

These results were obtained within the bi-lateral research project between South Africa and Argentina which Keet is currently involved in. The research is jointly-funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology and the Argentinian Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología, e Innovación Productiva.

Professor Pablo Fillottrani of the Universidad Nacional del Sur in Argentina will visit UKZN shortly while one of Keet’s students, Nasubo Ongoma, will visit Argentina for a month later in the year.

Meanwhile, two papers describing the results presented at Dagstuhl have been accepted after peer review at the highly selective 32nd International Conference on Conceptual Modeling in Hong-Kong and at the International Conference on Model and Data Engineering in Italy, both with Springer LNCS proceedings.

‘There is no math in these papers; that’s the next stage that will continue later this year,’ said Keet. ‘Pablo Fillottrani and I have earlier works on logic-based reconstructions of the conceptual data modelling languages in a Description Logic language, which need to be extended with regard to the new insights obtained with the ontology-driven unified metamodel.’

The main aim of the project is to develop ‘the formal conceptual apparatus and tools to integrate heterogeneous conceptual models, based on clear semantic specifications and with tractable algorithms to ensure implementability and usability. This will enable (i) the creation, editing, managing, and storing of several interconnected existing ontologies and conceptual data models, and (ii) the cross-fertilization of each language’s strength to the other.’


author email : Maraisb@ukzn.ac.za

UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH PROFESSOR SPEAKS AT UKZN

UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH PROFESSOR SPEAKS AT UKZN

Professor Graham Hatfull of the University of Pittsburgh presented a seminar on the Westville campus titled: “Bacteriophage Discovery and Genomics: A Platform for Integrating Research and Educational Missions”.

Hatfull, a recipient of the 2013 Carski Foundation distinguished undergraduate teaching award, highlighted major concerns which need to be addressed in science education and research. 

‘In education, we are especially concerned with providing students with access to research opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to them,’ said Hatfull.

His work involves structuring programmes that advance both science research and education. The programme developed focuses on bacteriophages discovery and genomic analysis.

The process involves students isolating new bacteriophages from the environment, purifying them and then naming them.

Hatfull explains that ‘the DNA is then isolated, the genome sequenced, and students computationally analyse the genome to identify the genes and other features.  Finally, they compare their genomes with other phage genomes to gain insights into evolutionary mechanisms.’

This programme has also been implemented at Pittsburgh in the university’s PHIRE programme, and across the US in the SEA-PHAGES programme. Both PHIRE and SEA-PHAGES are supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, with SEA-PHAGES now involving more than 70 universities and colleges with about 1 800 first year undergraduates each year.

Survey data reflects the success of the programme with its students displaying greater interest, engagement, and overall contribution to the sciences and key publishable scientific advances.  

The Durban winter workshop is now in its sixth year.  The 33 students in the workshop have isolated more than 70 new viruses and genomically analysed five phages that were isolated by last year’s class. 

The workshop was held under the initiative of Professor Bala Pillay, Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.


author email : Maraisb@ukzn.ac.za

INFO4AFRICA VISITS CHILDREN'S WARD AT DURBAN HOSPITAL

INFO4AFRICA VISITS CHILDREN'S WARD AT DURBAN HOSPITAL

Members of info4africa - a self-funded Centre within UKZN’s School of Applied Human Sciences - visited the Paediatrics Ward at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in honour of Nelson Mandela Day.

This ward cares for babies, young children and teenagers.  Nelson Mandela Day exists to spur all South Africans into action, by giving 67 minutes of their day to community service. Each minute stands for every year Mandela spent fighting for human rights and justice.

The UKZN team spent their 67 minutes singing Happy Birthday to Madiba with hospital nurses, and handing out care packages to patients. Each child received a toy, fruit juice, a fruit and treats. info4africa team members donated money towards the contents of the care packages.

Director of info4africa, Mrs Debbie Heustice, said: ‘Albert Luthuli was chosen as it is where one of our staff members, Ms Brenda Courtis, was hospitalised after a stroke earlier this year. Sadly, she passed away in early July, so our Mandela Day contribution was dedicated not only to Tata, but also towards thanking the hospital for taking care of our team mate. The staff were elated to enjoy this special day with our team, and the children were overjoyed with their gifts.’

info4africa exists to connect organisations working in health, wellbeing and development in South Africa. As database development, data collection and verification specialists, the team works to connect communities through collecting data.


author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

EXPERIENCING ENGINEERING THROUGH WINTER SCHOOL PROGRAMME

EXPERIENCING ENGINEERING THROUGH WINTER SCHOOL PROGRAMME

The Howard College campus was a buzz recently with exciting activities for the more than 100 pupils who took part in the Engineering Winter School.

The week was packed with a variety of interesting talks and activities designed to introduce participants to the School of Engineering and the numerous career possibilities it offers.

The programme’s activities were generously supported through key partnerships with SAPREF, Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), Eskom and Unilever.

Mr Moosa Karodia of SAPREF said: ‘SAPREF, the largest oil refinery in sub-Saharan Africa, is proud to be associated with UKZN. The Winter School is a rare opportunity for school students to be convinced to pursue an exciting career in engineering or science under the auspices of a renowned institution like this University.’

Ms Zodwa Dalmini of Eskom highlighted Eskom’s dedication to excellence in all areas of business involvement and thus the decision to engage with UKZN on the current project.

Ms Bongi Dube, also of Eskom, emphasised that ‘Eskom firmly believes that educating people puts them on a footing to compete on an equal basis thus ensuring a better and more productive workforce’.

Regarding TIA’s involvement with UKZN, Dr Anitha Ramsuran said: ‘It is initiatives like this which harnesses the creative and innovative potential of learners we try to foster at the Agency.’

Ms Shivania Naidoo of Unilever identified Unilever’s primary aim as being to ensure a positive impact on society through their brands. She also discussed Unilever’s focus on innovation being the driving force behind its involvement in initiatives such as the Winter School Programme.

The week’s events also included a tour of the South African Naval Base and the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

The students were also given the opportunity to engage with the School’s eight disciplines through interactive presentations and activities hosted by individuals and students from the School.

Parents accompanied by their children visited UNITE which is described as “a well-established, highly successful and credible alternative to direct mainstream study for engineering students”.

Durban triplets Kerisha, Kellina and Keyuran were a part of the action - they all plan to pursue study within the School of Engineering.

The programme proved to be a resounding success both in terms of the educational outcomes as well as the fun factor!

‘It’s been an awesome week and I’ve learnt so much,’ said one of the students as the week drew to a close.


author email : Maraisb@ukzn.ac.za