The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has secured the top position in Africa in the Webometrics Rankings of World Universities which rates Higher Education Institutions based on their web presence and input.

This is first time the University, previously placed fifth, has been first on the continent.

Globally UKZN is now placed 381 compared to 773 last year.  A total of 11 994 Higher Education Institutions were assessed, of which 974 were in Africa.

UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba said the University had excelled in terms of access to research publications, informal scholarly communication and electronic publications. ‘A special tribute must go to the staff, the students, the Research Office and the Corporate Relations Division,’ said Makgoba.

The Webometric system, an initiative of the Cybermetrics Lab in Spain, is the ‘largest academic ranking of Higher Education Institutions in the world’. 

Webometrics uses two criteria to measure the ranking of websites – (1) visibility, which is the impact the website has and (2) activity, which is divided into three criteria – presence, openness and excellence.

The greatest improvement and the main contributing factor for the increase in the ranking by UKZN is the impact criterion which is calculated from the number of links on diverse third-party sites to the UKZN website.  Those links are seen as ‘recognising the institutional prestige, the academic performance, the value of the information, and the usefulness of the services as introduced in the webpages according to the criteria of millions of web editors from all over the world’.

Webometric says the original aim of the ranking system is to promote academic web presence, supporting the Open Access initiatives for increasing significantly the transfer of scientific and cultural knowledge generated by universities to the whole society.

In order to achieve this objective, the publication of rankings is one of the most powerful and successful tools for starting and consolidating the processes of change in the academia, increasing the scholars’ commitment and setting up badly needed long-term strategies

The objective is not to evaluate websites, their design or usability or the popularity of their content according to the number of visits or visitors. Web indicators are considered as proxies in the correct, comprehensive, deep evaluation of the university global performance, taking into account its activities and outputs and their relevance and impact.

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A UKZN team of researchers led by Professor Deresh Ramjugernath received the South African Institute of Chemical Engineers (SAIChE) Innovation Award at a ceremony in Johannesburg.

Other members of the team are academics and students of the Discipline of Chemical Engineering Dr Matthew Starzak, Dr Prathieka Naidoo, Dr David Lokhat, Dr Wayne Nelson and Mr Shalendra Subramoney.

The SAIChE Innovation Award is presented to a team of chemical engineers or to an individual chemical engineer, in recognition of outstanding and innovative contributions to the profession or industry.

The UKZN team was recognised for their research and chemical process development work undertaken in a project titled: “Innovative Process for the Production of Hexafluoropropylene Oxide (HFPO) from Hexafluoropropylene (HFP)”.

The research involves the development of a novel chemical process for the commercial manufacture of hexafluoropropylene oxide which is the major building block for fluoropolymers and fluoroelastomers which are considered super-plastics or performance-plastics. Their unique chemical and physical properties allow them to be utilised in applications that were previously beyond the scope of ordinary hydrocarbon-based plastics.

These plastics are used in a wide range of applications, including aerospace components, automotive components, architectural coatings, industrial machinery parts and a myriad of other applications.

The current commercial technology used for HFPO synthesis is one of liquid phase batch process; producing considerable amounts of toxic liquid effluent, which is costly to dispose of in an environmentally responsible manner.

The new HFPO technology developed by the research team is a gas phase process, undertaken in a continuous process. This alleviates the toxic and expensive effluent problem and allows for the recycling of unreacted reagents resulting in significantly higher net yields and therefore reduced raw material costs as well as a number of other economic benefits.

The team members are part of the South African Research Chair: Fluorine Process Engineering and Separation Technology and the Thermodynamics Research Unit which is one of the leading research groups in its field globally. The Thermodynamics Research Unit and the South African Research Chair spearhead several cutting-edge research endeavours which contribute towards chemical process development and optimisation in South Africa and internationally.

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The Best Feature Film award at the Durban International Film Festival went – with a R50 000 cash prize – to Sion Sono for The Land of Hope and Glory.

The full list of awards was announced prior to the screening at the Suncoast CineCentre Cinema of the closing film: Free Angela and Political Prisoners.

Presenting the awards, the International Jury commended Sono for a film that ‘masterfully and humbly draws together an array of cinematic means of expression to engage us in a story’.

The International Jury members were Egyptian curator and festival programmer, Sherif Awad; renowned festival programmer, Paolo Bertolin; South African filmmaker, Sarah Blecher; film curator, June Givanni, and South African actress Hlubi Mboya.

They gave the Best South African Feature Film award and a cash prize of R30 000 to South African filmmaker Andrew Worsdale for Durban Poison.

After banning the opening night film Of Good Report, the Film and Publications Board reversed their decision. The film was not screened in any of its allocated slots because of the banning and so could not be in the competition.

The Durban International Film Festival acknowledged the film’s achievements in stimulating worldwide debate and highlighting important issues in South African society. Festival Manager Peter Machen announced a new annual award for Artistic Bravery, which went to Of Good Report Director, Jahmil XT Qubeka. 

International Jury member, Givanni on behalf of the International Jury, also gave reason as to why the film directed by Jahmil XT Qubeka could not be considered for competition by saying: ‘As a jury, we were privileged to be taken on a global journey through cinema, and we would like to thank Peter Machen and the Film Festival programmers for this great honor.

‘However, we have to express our regret that this journey could not include the South African competition entry Of Good Report, which the Film and Publication Board did not licence for public screening in time for us to take it into consideration. The jury is saddened and concerned about the limitations to freedom of expression that are still in force on the continent and beyond, but we are glad that on this occasion the decision has been over-turned.’

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, also gave special mention and a prize to Festival Manager Peter Machen for his “outstanding work” during the festival and acknowledging his contribution to the festival as a whole. Potgieter also touched on the currently vacant post of Director of the Centre for Creative Arts saying that the position was currently being advertised and that an appointment would be made soon.

The full list of awards is: 

- Best Short Film – Mercy (Dir. Eliza Subotowic)
- Best South African Short Film – The Brave Unseen (Dir. Duan Myburgh)
- Best Documentary Film – Far out isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story (Dir. Brad Bernstein)
- Special Mention: Best Documentary Film – I Am Breathing (Dir. Emma Davie and Morag McKinonn)
- Best South African Documentary Film – Angel’s In Exile (Dir. Billy Raftery)
- Special Mention: Best South African Documentary Film – Orania (Dir. Tobias Lindner)
- Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award – Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer (dir. Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin)
- Audience Choice Best Film – Felix (Dir. Roberta Durrant)
- Audience Choice Best Documentary – Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer (Dir. Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin)
- Audience Choice Best Wavescapes Film – Stand (Dir. Anthony Bonello and Nicolas Teichrob)
- Audience Choice Best WildTalk Film – 2 Wings Many Prayers (Dir. Lloyd Ross)
- Best Feature Film – The Land of Hope (Dir. Sion Sono)
- Best First Feature Film – Wadjda (Dir. Al-Mansour Haifaa)
- Best South African Feature Film – Durban Poison (Dir. Andrew Worsdale)
- Best Direction – Xavier Dolan for Laurence Anyways
- Best Cinematography – MatÍas Penachino for Halley
- Best Screenplay – Asghar Fahradi for The Past
- Best Actor – David and Eitan Cunio for Youth
- Best Actress – Paulina Garcia for Gloria and Suzanne Clément for Laurence Anyways
- Durban International Film Festival Award for Artistic Bravery – Jahmil XT Qubeka.

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Language and Culture activist Mr Sandile Masondo has completed a walk around KwaZulu-Natal to highlight the neglected issue of respect and equality for South Africa’s vernacular languages, including isiZulu.

UKZN’s Head of the Discipline of African Languages, Professor Noleen Turner, and staff from the Discipline, backed Masondo in his venture. 

Turner said: ‘Sandile has gone through a lot to do something he is passionate about and that is why he received our support. He spent R35 000 of his own money on the project and walked with swollen and blistered feet through cold and rain. You have to have passion to do that.’

UKZN isiZulu Lecturer Ms Gugu Mkhize walked part of the journey with him from Stanger to Mandini.

 ‘The walk was a long, tiring one but it felt good to show my support to Sandile. It’s really great to see someone so passionate about African Languages,’ she said.

Masondo’s experience at school and his subsequent exclusion from entry to university due to his lack of skills in English inspired this particular crusade to highlight the problems of first language isiZulu speakers in KwaZulu-Natal.

He recently climbed Mt Kilimanjaro to publicise the plight of South Africa’s rhinos and his latest venture was undertaken to draw public attention to the largely neglected issue of language oppression still affecting the lives of many South Africans today. 

Masondo interacted with citizens in the street as well as local municipal councillors and the media to generate dialogue around the difficulties experienced by the overwhelming majority of South Africans today who still have to navigate public processes and education systems in second or third languages they do not fully understand. 

Using stories of his own life experiences to emphasise this unspoken societal problem, Masondo aimed to inspire change that would dramatically enhance the quality of life for first language speakers of indigenous languages in South Africa. 

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Dr Rubby Dhunpath, the Director of Teaching and Learning at UKZN, delivered the keynote address at the opening of a research conference hosted by the Institute of Education in Mauritius on the occasion of its 40th Anniversary.

In an address titled: “Reclaiming Research Agendas: Promoting and Sustaining a Self-Determined Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education”, Dhunpath examined the extent to which smaller states are able to preserve their autonomy in determining how their research agendas are shaped, mediated and enacted.

Using Reinhard Bendix’s conception of Reference Societies, Rubby argued that the world of globalised Higher Education was highly unequal. ‘It’s a world where existing inequalities are exponentially reinforced while new barriers are erected, where powerful universities and academic systems - the centres - have always dominated the production and distribution of knowledge.

‘The unintended or intended consequence of Reference Societies is that smaller and weaker institutions and systems have tended to be the beneficiaries - either through mimicking apparently successful models or through normative behaviour achieved through the hiring of staff, who as a result of their credentials, are able to socialise their colleagues into dominant organisational trends and practices.’

Dhunpath contended that ‘often, these disembodied research agendas and curriculum choices are completely alien to the realities of the country, resulting in the provision of a self-equalising education system that gravitates towards mediocrity’.

Citing the work of sociologist, Guy Standing – the author of The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, Dhunpath argued that neo-liberal policies and inappropriate curriculum choices had produced a huge and growing number of people across the world living and working precariously, usually in a series of short-term jobs, without recourse to stable occupational identities or careers or stable social protection.  The Precariat is characterised by four-A’s: anxiety, anomy, alienation and anger.

People with a relatively high level of formal education, are forced to accept jobs beneath what they believe are in line with their qualifications resulting in Status Frustration.

It is the dissonance between promises made by Higher Education and the harsh realities of the job market that lies behind Status Frustration.

Dhunpath urged conference delegates to consider the extent to which they were complicit in perpetuating the crisis of the growing precariat class, particularly by remaining silent as politicians and policy makers ignore the employment crisis because they are too busy aping the successes of Reference Societies which have no relevance to their own realities.

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A peer-reviewed paper delivered by a UKZN computer science PhD student was selected as one of the best at the first International Workshop on Semantics for Biodiversity at the 10th Extended Semantic Web Conference (ESWC) in Montpellier, France.

The student, Mr Willem Coetzer, is the Biodiversity Information Manager at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity and is working on his Doctorate in Computer Science at the Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.

The paper, co-authored by his supervisors Dr Deshendran Moodley and Dr Aurona Gerber, was published in the post-proceedings of the main conference.

The authors have also been invited to submit an extended version of the paper for inclusion in a special issue of the Journal of Biomedical Semantics.

The subject of the paper is how biodiversity databases can be integrated and made to operate together (or be interoperable) through the use of semantic technologies.

While the focus area is on entomological (insect) collections, the principles and constructs employed can be broadly applied to any biodiversity information originating from natural history collections. The three South African Natural History Collections used in the paper are from the Plant Protection Research Institute in Pretoria, the Albany Museum in Grahamstown and Iziko Museums in Cape Town.

Moodley explained that ‘the purpose of the research is to begin to publish data on the Semantic Web, which can be considered an evolving extension of the traditional world-wide web, which is a web of heterogeneously formatted documents’. The Semantic Web, on the other hand, will be a web of linked data (each individual record linked to other records), which, because of the semantics in the metadata, will automatically become linked to other data published in the same manner.

The long-term significance is that it will no longer be necessary to continuously reformat and manually integrate separate databases. It will also mean that software agents will be able to collate and analyse the data with very little human intervention.

The paper is a result of a collaborative research project entitled ‘Improvement and Integration of Pollinator Biodiversity Information in Africa’, which was funded by the JRS Biodiversity Foundation between 2011 and 2013.

For more information about the Workshop see:

A useful technical summary of the Semantic Web, as seen by ESWC, can be found here

The full paper can be downloaded from: A Case-Study of Ontology-Driven Semantic Mediation of Flower-Visiting Data from Heterogeneous Data-Stores in Three South African Natural History Collections

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Ucwaningo obelenziwa e-UKZN iminyaka eyisikhombisa seliveze ukuthi u-oyela wengwenya unamandla okwelapha izifo ezahlukene. 

Leprojekthi yaqala ngo2006 ngesikhathi uGarvin Textiles (Pty) Ltd, ephethwe osomabhizinisi abathathu baseThekwini abafuna ukwenza imali ngokwakha babuye bakhangise u-oyela wengwenya, becela i-UKZN  ibenzele ucwaningo ngalokhu.

USolwazi Karen du Toit owayehambele umhlangano wokuqala nabaphathi balenkampani ubehola lolucwaningo lokukhombisa umsebenzi owenziwa u-oyela wengwenya.

Ngezinyanga ezimbalwa iqaliwe leprojekthi, uDkt Johannes Bodenstein, oyi-molecular pharmacologist obuya kokwenza iminyaka emithathu yezifundo zobudokotela eMichigan eMelika ujoyine lelithimba.

Emva kokudonsa lo-oyela wengwenya kumanye amafutha ajawayelekile, indlela yokusesha ebizwa phecelezi nge in vitro antimicrobial yenziwa kanye nenye yokuhlola ekuthiwa yi-in vivo anti-inflammatory yenziwa kumagundane eBiomedical Resource Centre khona la eNyuvesi.

Kwatholakala ukuthi lo-oyela unendlela ehlukile yokuvikela emagciwaneni eStaphylococcus aureus neKlebsiella pneumoniae eziholela ezifeni zesikhumba kanye nesamaphaphu.

Kodwa kutholakale ukuthi lisebenza kakhulu kunembeza womuntu kanti ikhulisa kakhulu abanamasosha omzimba kanye nabantu abakuma antibiotics. Kutholakale ukuthi lo-oyela obuhlolwa kumagundane wehlisa ukuvuvukala ngokushesha uma uphuzwa kunokugcotshwa. Kufike esivumelwaneni ukuthi lo-oyela unawo lamandla okulapha odume ngakho.

Lolucwaningo beluxhaswe ngezimali zangaphandle nomsizi wasegumbini locwaningo uNksz Amanda Mbatha oqashwe ngenkontileka, kanye noNksz Sithabile Buthelezi owenze ucwaningo lwe-antimicrobial ne anti-inflammatory. UButhelezi wavunyelwa ukuba alusebenzise lolucwaningo ezifundweni zakhe zeMasters emkhakheni weMedical Science, okuyilapho ethole khona umklomelo weGolden Key Award.

Umfundi waseNdiya owenza izifundo zakhe zezinga lobudokotela uMnu Mahidansha Shaikh naye ujoyine lelithimba nezifundo zakhe bezixhaswe enye inkontileka. Lenkontileka yocwaningo neGarvin Textiles (Pty) Ltd kanye noxhaso olunye lusizile ekusunguleni ithimba elincane lwabacwaningi. Luphinde lakhuthaza uthando emikhakheni yezifundo ze-anti-inflammatory ne toxicology luqala enye yezindawo ezingacwaningwa e-UKZN.

Click her for English version

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The College of Law and Management Studies’ Management Support Office, College staff members and members of the University community raised more than R1 000 for the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) through their Cuppa for CANSA drive.

In addition, staff members wearing a Reach for Your Slippers sticker in support of Reach for a Dream, enjoyed tea and eats while wearing slippers!

The money raised will be used by CANSA to help fund their care and support programmes provided in various care centres.

Reach for a Dream fulfils the dreams of children between the ages of three and 18 who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illness.

The fund-raising initiative hosted by the College created a social environment for staff to chat while enjoying a cup of tea and cake for a minimum donation of of R10.

The DVC and Head of College Professor John Mubangizi, showed his support for the initiative and said:

‘This great initiative is not only good for raising awareness and supporting cancer survivors but is also a teambuilding initiative.’

The College’s Management Support office staff, who hosted the tea, said they were overwhelmed by the turn-out and support, and thanked everyone who contributed eats or came along to have a “cuppa” with colleagues.

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More than 1 400 students received new Proline Tablet PCs as part of a Visual Learning Project being piloted by the College of Health Sciences (CHS).

The cutting-edge project is being piloted in partnership with the Information and Communication Services Division (ICS) in order to achieve a number of goals in the University’s Teaching and Learning space - particularly providing a mechanism to stream lectures live and record lectures for later on-demand viewing.

The live lecture streaming incorporates an interactive classroom where students ask the lecturer questions electronically and respond to questions, surveys and polls from their seats in the lecture room or from a remote location.

College management said the new solution opened up exciting opportunities which could allow international lecturers to work with UKZN students. The new technology would allow lecturers to reach the more remote areas of the University community, proving especially beneficial to CHS students when fulfilling the clinical service requirements of their degrees.

According to UKZN’s Chief Information Officer, Mr Richard Jansen, the Visual Learning Project is a first for South Africa, particularly the interaction built into streaming and video on-demand technology.

‘ICS is excited to test the new technology to see whether it can be rolled out into other disciplines at the University. This exercise is about seeing how it will work; finding and solving the problems as we go.’

The College decided to pilot the programme on first year MBChB, Dental Therapy and Nursing students; second-year Nursing and B. Medical Sciences students, third-year students in Optometry, Speech Language Pathology, Pharmacy, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Nursing students, as well as the fourth-year MBChB students.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, Professor Renuka Vithal, welcomed the innovation. ‘Harnessing available cost-effective technologies to enhance teaching and promote deep learning is one of the indicators of an effective and responsive Higher Education as long as we agree that technology should not replace the teacher in the lecture room.’

The first phase of handing out tablets to Medical students took place on 22 July when ICS delivered a special presentation on using the new gadgets optimally. The tablets are designed to interact with university-specific software such as Moodle and the all-new UKZNTube – eLearning platforms that will be used to teach students during the pilot project.

The Tablet PC is deemed super-fast, featuring the latest Jelly Bean Android operating system. Its trendy features include WiFi, HD Screen, Dual Core processor and Dual Cameras. Its manufacturers have coined it as “fast, fluid and extra smooth”.

Ms Kuraisha Dehaloo and Mr Lizwe Buthelezi, MBChB fourth-years, said the gadgets were the coolest thing they had received from UKZN. Buthelezi admired its features and slick finish, and Dehaloo said she was optimistic about the role it would play in enhancing their studies.

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Academic in the Discipline of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, Mrs Suna Kassier, presented a paper at UKZN for National Science Week titled: “Killing them Softly with Salt: the Other Cocaine”.

In the interactive and entertaining talk Kassier spoke about the health perils of a diet high in salt.

‘Globally the prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, strokes, diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease are soaring at an alarming rate in both developed and developing countries. In fact, such diseases have overtaken infectious diseases as the world’s leading cause of death,’ explained Kassier.

Kassier highlighted a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease: hypertension, which is aggravated by a diet that is high in salt intake.

A high intake of sodium, a key ingredient of table salt and food that is processed, canned, smoked or pickled, contributes significantly to the development of hypertension. 

As hypertension is often symptom free and detected by chance, it has been labelled: “the silent killer”. 

South Africa has an estimated 3.3 million hypertension sufferers. If the international definition of hypertension is accepted (= 140/90 millimetres Mercury), another 2.7 million South Africans can be added to the number.

Kassier noted that a reduction in sodium intake presented a cost effective way of combating this global killer.

The evening ended with Kassier fielding questions from the audience.

Winners of the competition draw held on the evening were presented with their prizes by the Dean and Head in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Professor Albert Modi.

Kassier’s presentation was the first in a series of public lectures hosted by UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science in celebration of National Science Week.

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More than 3 500 patients received free primary health care screening in the first leg of this year’s Operation Hope co-facilitated by UKZN.

The University’s Discipline of Family Medicine has, over the past three years, partnered with the Durban Christian Centre (DCC) to make a success of the mass outreach initiative in disease prevention and health promotion for Durban’s disadvantaged communities who often have limited access to primary health care.

The initiative is held over two consecutive weekends at DCC’s Jesus Dome and in Phoenix.

Family members of all races and ages in target and neighbouring communities flock to these sites for free medical testing which includes checks on blood pressure, HIV status, diabetes, eyesight and pregnancy as well as PAP smears.

Doctors and nurses from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health offer their services including health promotion sessions and referrals to hospitals where necessary.

The Acting Head of UKZN’s Discipline of Family Medicine, Dr Kantharuben Naidoo, said most of those who attended Operation Hope were from the communities of Bonela and Cato Crest.

‘We need to take health screening out to the people, especially populations which have limited access to healthcare. This is in line with the country’s National Health Insurance ethos for re-engineering primary healthcare.

‘Mass screening helps identify patients at risk for early prevention, minimising the possibility of contracting serious illnesses at a later stage.

‘Ideally, it is essential for every citizen to undergo a full health screening at least once a year,’ said Naidoo. High risk patients, on the other hand, would be screened monthly until their condition improved. 

Naidoo said Operation Hope was one of several outreach programmes the Discipline was involved in. He said it was important to reach out to the public and focus on the immunisation of children, teen health, safe sexual practices, and VCT counselling while also emphasising the dangers of substance abuse and encouraging women to have pap smears in view of the growing prevalence of cervical cancer. Self-breast examination was encouraged in all women.

During Operation Hope, fourth and final-year students in their Family Medicine rotation participated in Community Orientated Primary Care educating people about disease prevention and opportunistic health promotion. They worked closely with all Family Medicine consultants who participate on a voluntary basis.

Fourth-year medical student enthusiasts, Ms Penny Ndukuya and Ms Teresa van der Merwe, said their interest in public health was sparked during their Family Medicine block in the Ugu District’s Murchison Hospital.  Ndukuya said the experience had helped her discover “the fun of medicine” and van der Merwe is set on her passion to become a medical missionary.

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The 16th South African Chemical Institute (SACI) Inorganic Chemistry Conference (INORG2013), incorporating the Carman Physical Chemistry Symposium, took place in Durban recently.

The conference, attended by 191 delegates, featured 10 keynote speakers as well as more than 30 oral presentations which included many senior students. A significant number of speakers from the United States, United Kingdom and other parts of the world gave INORG2013 Conference a distinct international flavour.

In addition, there were also 120 poster presentations of which the top-three received cash prizes.

The INORG2013 Conference also introduced two firsts: flash talks, whereby speakers were given a five-minute opportunity to summarize their posters; and an Award Certificate given to the University that brought the biggest delegation. The only rule for the winning university was that they could not reside within the host province. This year’s Award Certificate went the University of the Free State.

The INORG2013 Conference covered all branches of inorganic chemistry, including co-ordination chemistry, organometallic chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, catalysis and several aspects of physical chemistry. It also included sessions allocated to nanomaterial and green chemistry.

Conference Chair Dr Werner van Zyl, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry and Physics at UKZN, said: ‘The inorganic and physical chemistry symbiosis seemed to work quite well.’

The highlight of the Conference was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the American Chemical Society (ACS), represented by its President Dr Marinda Wu and the immediate-Past President of SACI, Professor James Darkwa. The MOU aims to catalyze close co-operation between the ACS and SACI over the next three years.

Summing up the Conference, van Zyl said: ‘Organizing this SACI INORG Conference, by far the largest of its kind ever, cannot be achieved without the help from many sources. I thank the organizing committee for their individual contributions; the many sponsors who gave financial support to this event, and of course the delegates who took the trouble to visit our shores. No-one left without learning something new and without building new networks.’

The slogan of the Conference was “every bond counts” and this proved appropriate, both chemically and socially.

Van Zyl said he was particularly proud that the ACS, the largest professional society on the planet with over 163 000 members, and SACI would be inextricably linked by the Conference well into the future.

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UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) has been awarded prestigious full membership of the Association of African Business Schools (AABS).

The AABS is an association of leading business schools in Africa which provide member schools with an endorsement of quality, an opportunity to learn from peers, and access to a worldwide network.

The GSB&L enjoys the status of being among the world’s best business schools with a global reach, practical business education, thought leadership and executive education on an array of business management issues.

It is envisaged that membership of the Association will strengthen the School’s relationship with the African business schools community.

The Dean and Head of the GSB&L, Professor Stephen Migiro, said the membership would keep the School abreast of current trends in business education.

‘The School will benefit tremendously from the AABS’s annual Teaching Excellence and Case Study Writing Workshops for Africa’s new generation of business and community leader.

‘Furthermore, the school will henceforth participate in AABS conferences besides being able to attract visiting professors in the areas of leadership and business management,’ said Migiro.

The AABS membership would also expose the GSB&L to a broad network of international Deans and Directors and management education experts who contribute to the growth of quality management education and development in Africa.

Migiro said the workshops created a platform for academics from business schools across the African continent to collaborate in developing practice-based teaching skills, which were critical for enhancing the capabilities of African business schools and better connecting them to business communities.

‘This will create an opportunity for the School to enhance its partnership with the business sector to ensure our graduates are leaders in global services firms, major corporations, and dynamic new ventures.’

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Nine UKZN students spent a semester in various countries of the world as part of the University’s student exchange programme.

Student Exchange and Study Abroad Co-ordinator, Ms Preshantha Reddy, said exchange students were selected on academic merit, their letter of motivation, academic references and their  performance in an interview.

Ms Gugu Madlala, the first differently-abled UKZN student to participate in the exchange programme, spent a semester at Drake University in the United States.  Madlala (aka Ms GEE) is currently completing her Bachelor of Social Science degree in Pietermaritzburg.

Her challenges included facing a series of lengthy flights and a defective wheelchair battery which left her stranded for a week after she landed in Iowa. However, the tenacious Madalala soon had a new set of wheels and managed to handle missing her children back home in South Africa and the bitterly cold weather in the United States.

‘Thank God for Skype!’ she exclaimed, a sentiment echoed by many of the students who used the video conferencing system to contact family and friends back home.

Madlala cites meeting “amazing” host families, forging life-long friendships and visiting Washington DC as highlights of the exchange programme. ‘I believe that in life if you dream something, it will come to pass.’

She thanked UKZN for giving her “such an amazing experience”, and suggested that families in South Africa should look at being host families for visiting international students.

Ms Zakiyya Nakhooda, a Bachelor of Social Work student, visited the University of Tampere in Finland. She cited the freezing cold weather conditions, culture shock and getting halaal food as some of the challenges she faced during her time in Finland.

Nakhooda kept a journal to reflect on her experiences and added that she learned a lot during her time abroad. ‘I learned about a world of culture – I went there to learn about Finnish culture, but learnt about cultures from around the world!’

BA students Ms Chuma Mapoma and Ms Fiona Young spent five months at Pitzer College in the USA.

Their exciting experiences included taking part in 1 Billion Rising and the Vagina Monologues. Young joined a band, Big Body Nation (the videos are available on YouTube), while Chuma acted in a play Stand and Deliver, based on the true story of a maths teacher at a rebellious high school.

The challenges they faced included visa issues, adjusting to different cultures (they had fellow students who showered once a week and went “dumpster diving” as part of  “green initiatives”) and facing racism for the first time in their young lives while on Spring Break in Arizona.

All in all, they relished their time abroad and cannot wait to visit Pitzer College again!

Millersville University in the heart of Amish farming lands in Pennsylvania in the United States was home for a semester to Ms Emma Pallet. A UKZN Art student majoring in print-making, Pallet was exposed to inspiring techniques and visited Washington DC where she enjoyed the history and world-renowned art.

One of the highlights of her time at Millersville University was when two of her art works were displayed as part of an exhibition at a gallery.

She spent some time in Miami and managed to balance her academic responsibilities with American traditions such as going to baseball and basketball games and enjoying local “delicacies” including the occasional “deep-fried Mac” and cheese!

‘Undoubtedly one of my best experiences was joining a gospel choir. I learned that dreams don’t need to remain dreams – they can become realities!’ said Pallet.

BA student Ms Tannith Kriel was at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, Korea. One of 300 exchange students attending the 614-year-old University, Kriel immersed herself in Korean culture during her time there.

An Arts student, Kriel says her love for Asian cuisine was instilled by her father. Highlights of her trip included creating a stop-motion video featuring her drawings and making friends from around the world.

Another BA student Ms Carey Kirkman spent a semester at Keele University in the United Kingdom where she relished meeting loads of international and British students.  She also managed to do a fair amount of travelling.

‘It was the best experience ever! It taught me a lot about my own culture – I realised that I use a lot of Afrikaans and Zulu! I am so much more proud of being South African!’

For more information on applying for one of the coveted spots, e-mail Ms Reddy at:

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A PhD study conducted by UKZN academic, Dr Kantharuben Naidoo, has resulted in three journal articles being included for poster presentations accepted for this year’s World Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine Congress.

Co-supervised by two of UKZN’s esteemed academics, Professor Umesh Lalloo and Professor Jerome Singh, Naidoo’s study investigated the ethical dilemmas faced by critical care specialists in the admission of HIV-infected patients to intensive care, particularly in resource-limited settings.

One of the articles was published in the July edition of the Southern African Journal of Critical Care, presenting a combination of factors which influence the decision to admit patients to intensive care. Prognosis and disease status were identified as the main factors influencing admission, and the pleasant finding was that patients with HIV/AIDS were not discriminated against in admission to intensive care.

Naidoo said South Africa’s overriding HIV epidemic had resulted in an increased demand for intensive care.

Together with Lalloo, Naidoo also conducted an audit – accepted for publication in the South African Medical Journal – of ICU/high care beds in South Africa for the period 2008 to 2009. They found that while increasing the number of ICU beds in the public sector would open critical care services to more users, the country’s National Health Insurance scheme, incorporating the private sector, would not solve the huge discrepancies of access to ICUs, and availability of critical care staff across the provinces.

These papers, together with another that was presented at the 6th South African AIDS Conference, on specific issues in the context of HIV/AIDS and intensive care in relation to the concept of medical futility, will be on show at the World congress in addition to one more which documented factors influencing the outcome of critically ill HIV-infected patients reported in the literature.

Naidoo said it was important to produce and present new HIV-related knowledge. The era of highly active antiretroviral therapy had dramatically improved survival in ICU to match that of the normal population not infected with the virus.

His survey with Lalloo is believed to be the first such study, focusing on ethical dilemmas encountered by critical care specialists in the admission of people infected with HIV/AIDS and access to critical care.

Naidoo is the Acting Head of Family Medicine at UKZN. He is also the Head of the Clinical Unit at Wentworth Hospital and an Academic Co-ordinator of undergraduate and postgraduate modules and programmes within the Department of Family Medicine.

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The French Ambassador in South Africa, Ms Elisabeth Barbier, visited the French Discipline on the Pietermaritzburg campus accompanied by the Cultural and Cooperation Counsellor, Mr Franck Marchetti, and the attaché for the French language, Mr Patrick Parrot.

The group first met students who over the past five years have either won the yearly Francophonie competition (the prize being a short stay in France) or benefited from a sponsorship from the French government to study in France or to work as an English teaching assistant in a French school.

The most recent (2013) winner of the Francophonie competition, second-year French student Mr Sakhile Xulu had the opportunity to reflect on his 10-day trip to Paris from which he has just returned.

Reporting back on their stays in France, the students agreed the experiences had helped them enormously in their personal development as well as in their careers.

Barbier remarked that learning foreign languages opened many doors. She referred in particular to the position of French in Africa and underlined the role the language played in good communication on the continent.

After a brief photo session, the visitors had discussions with Professor Bernard De Meyer, Professor Jaco Alant and Mrs Ghislaine Dye of the French Discipline.

Barbier mentioned she was impressed by the task-based approach used for undergraduate students and was particularly interested in the programmes offered in the Discipline at Honours level. She emphasised that these courses formed a necessary springboard to further study in the language or to a career in fields such as teaching, business and tourism.

Barbier and her delegation were thanked for their visit and for their on-going encouragement and support.

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A retired Eastern Cape couple has agreed to their bodies being used for teaching purposes at UKZN after their deaths.

The couple said they had always dreamed of becoming organ or body donors so when they heard the University ran a Body Donor Programme they decided that was the way to go.

Mrs Patricia Greig (55) told UKZN Online she and her husband, Gordon (75), believed in donating their bodies to science because they felt they were contributing to future teaching, learning and research.

The couple had successful careers with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research before their retirement.

Their local undertaker told them about UKZN’s Body Donor Programme and the couple is spreading the word among friends and family to follow suit. ‘I don’t think people realise that they can do this,’ said Patricia. ‘The fact that we can make a difference in the future of medical science and research is very exciting.’

During a recent visit to their ancestors at a Durban cemetery, they realised how full graveyards were nowadays. 

‘People are not aware of what actually happens in the donation process - you are still treated with dignity. I really have encouraged people to do something. The fact that they are looking for any kind of body is excellent!’

The co-ordinator of UKZN’s Body Donor Programme, Mr Salem Kharwa, thanked the couple for their ‘kind and benevolent gesture’.

Medical universities require cadavers for teaching as well as research for undergraduate and postgraduate students. ‘Dissections as well as harvesting of prosecutions (specimens used for teaching) from cadavers play a vital role in learning in Clinical Anatomy and other disciplines,’ said Kharwa.

Over the years, the University has had a limited number of cadavers available for teaching purposes and although modern techniques such as plastination - the technique used in anatomy to preserve bodies or body parts which stay lifelike and indefinitely antiseptic – is embraced, international experts argue that there is still an important need for cadaveric teaching and learning.

About 26 cadavers were donated to the Anatomy Discipline in 2012 and 15 have been donated so far this year. Kharwa said the number of cadavers received annually was much higher in the past, due to many unclaimed bodies received from hospitals.

‘This impacts directly on proper training of especially medical students and health sciences because having limited cadavers hinders student dissections and many students have to work around a single cadaver. The minimal availability of human tissue also has a direct effect on research output,’ said Kharwa. ‘Procurement of cadavers from other institutions has adverse financial repercussions.’

People willing to donate their bodies to the University can telephone Mr Salem Kharwa at 031 260 4585 or email:

The only criterion is that the donors must not have undergone any invasive surgery within three months prior to their demise.

All body donors sign a written consent initially, and they choose whether their parts can be retained or cremated post dissection/teaching programme.

Kharwa said body donors are processed and recorded, and a complete list of cadavers attained is registered with the Inspector of Anatomy.

The Inspector of Anatomy also inspects all cadavers prior to cremation or burial.

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Creating a culture of safety is an important mental choice for doctors and the challenge for them is to make sure they deliver on it. 

This is according to UKZN alumnus and the University of Washington’s Vice-Chairman for Academic Affairs and Director of the Critical Care training programme in the Department of Anesthesiology, Dr Satish Bhagwanjee.

Bhagwanjee, who was delivering a Public Lecture at UKZN, said creating a culture of safety would boost patient safety significantly on both the clinical and the operational level.

His clinical experience includes trauma, surgical and cardio-thoracic intensive care while his research interests have been in outcome prediction in the critically ill and the development of regional mechanisms for critical care delivery.

He said South Africa lacked serious data on what the realities were with regard to patient safety.

‘Anaesthesia related challenges point us to some fundamental problems we should be solving.’

The 21st century was confronted with emerging diseases, globalisation, biotechnology, and a need for service excellence, cost containment and understanding the ethics involved in managing diseases effectively.

‘There is a need to keep abreast with disease trends and to maximise on modern day technologies to communicate effectively.’

He highlighted the World Health Organization (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist which lists best practices before induction of anaesthesia, before skin incision and before a patient leaves the operating room.

Anaesthetists were aware that sepsis - the life-threatening medical condition characterised by a whole-body inflammatory state - in ICU was a significant contributor to mortality, morbidity, and cost. Sepsis management in low and middle-income countries was a challenge as social inequality limited the care provided to those at the bottom of the economic pile.

Quality assurance was flagged as a way forward if the following became well attuned: the role players, relevant research, infrastructure, regionalisation, financial management, strategy, marketing, implementation, evaluation and modification.

‘The common thing is that people suffer adverse events owing to multiple errors. Quality depends on availability of the appropriate infrastructure and human capacity.’

Bhagwanjee has been an advisor to the WHO for the management of global sepsis outbreaks and epidemics and is a member of the Global Sepsis Alliance.

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The American Chemical Society on Campus (ACSoC) initiative was held on 5 July 2013 at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville campus. This initiative ran in conjunction with the 16th South African Chemical Institute (SACI) Inorganic Chemistry Conference (INORG2013). The event opened with a Gala dinner held on 4 July at Joop’s Place, Morningside, which proved to be very successful and informative.

The main objective of the dinner, which was  attended by approximately 150 local and international guests, was to equip students, staff and researchers with the necessary tools, skills and information to assist them in publications and career opportunities.

Mr Brett Thomas (Sales Manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa) gave a rundown of the full programme.  Professor John Gladysz, Dow Chair in Chemical Invention at the Texas A&M University, spoke about the Basics in Scholarly Publishing.  This was followed by Professor Robin Rogers, Robert Ramsay Chair of Chemistry and Director, Center for Green Manufacturing at the University of Alabama who presented information on the peer-review process.

Thomas then gave an excellent overview of Copyright and Ethics in Scholarly Publishing. This was followed by an amazing demonstration of Chemworx given by Dr Bradley Miller of the ACS International Office. Dr Thomas Haubenreich introduced and addressed all issues related to Sci Finder, with further sessions given the following day.

After lunch, Dr Brad Miller informed guests about the international-center website and Graduate School Directory. The remainder of the afternoon belonged to Mr Roger Brown (ACS) who talked about tips and tricks in finding careers in academia, government, industry and business. The event ended by each delegate receiving an official certificate of attendance.

Dr Werner van Zyl from the UKZN School of Chemistry and Physics, who facilitated the ACSoC event, said: ‘The event was highly professional, well organised and definitely useful to the target audience. I want to commend ACS on this initiative and hope that we continue to have such important events at UKZN.’

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Representatives of the Bible Society of South Africa, a non-profit ecumenical organisation, recently visited staff and students within the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) and donated Hebrew and Greek Bibles to first-year students.

Dean and Head of the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, Professor Johannes Smit, said an important part of the knowledge and skills students gained at university came through reading and analysing religious texts in their original languages.

‘In Christianity for example, the study of Classical Hebrew for the study of the Old Testament and the study of Hellenistic Greek for the New Testament, are pre-requisites for anyone who wants to study the Christian scriptures with insight and authority. Since the purchase of the texts in the original languages can be expensive, the Bible Society of South Africa, donated the texts to be studied to our students,’ said Smit.

In his address at the event, the Rev Josiah Mazibuko told the story of the founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) in 1804. ‘A 12-year-old girl, Mary Jones, who wanted to read the Bible for herself, worked to earn money to buy the Bible and then walked more than 20 miles to buy one. This event, together with other similar incidents where the need of people who wanted to read the Bible for themselves became evident, gave rise to the founding of the BFBS,’ he said.

The BFBS was a precursor to the Bible Society of South Africa (BSSA) - the largest of some 34 bible societies and offices throughout Africa - which became an autonomous body in the 1960s.

The BSSA, like all other Bible Societies, is ecumenical in that it serves all who want Bibles, irrespective of their beliefs and denominations, religious orders or faith communities. It also raises funds for the translation of the Bible. Since 1857, it has succeeded in sponsoring the translation of the Bible in all eleven official languages of South Africa.

Smit thanked the Bible Society for its work with regard to the translation of the Bible. He said it was very important to provide the Bible in the original languages to students for their studies as well as in our indigenous languages. ‘It is important to train indigenous language speakers to translate the Bible in our languages. Since they understand indigenous cultures from within, they are the best suited to translate the Bible.’

In this regard, Smit also thanked Dr Gosnell Yorke from the Programme in Biblical and Historical Studies for inviting the Bible Society as well as for his leadership and contribution to the training of future translators of the Bible. ‘Since culture develops, it is a never ending task to continue to translate the Bible into the local languages,’ said Smit.

Yorke, who is retiring soon, has organised annual visits of the Bible Society of South Africa (BSSA) to the SRPC. He served as translation consultant with the global United Bible Societies (UBS - Africa Area) from 1996 to 2006 and in academia in North America (Canada and the USA), the Caribbean (Jamaica) and here in Africa (including UKZN) for more than 30 years (1981-2013).

 Inside the school, Yorke has facilitated donations of the Bible in the original languages to both staff and students of the school (including Classics), as well as the partners from the Cluster of Theological Institutions, ie Lutheran Theological Institute, Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary, St. Joseph’s Theological Institute, The United Congregational Church of South Africa, the Anglican House of Studies, and the Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa.

More recently he also facilitated access for Biblical Studies students, to the most sophisticated Bible Translation software programme available, PARATEXT 7.0. The programme helps students gain a keener appreciation of the cultural, exegetical, theological and other intricacies involved in the translation of the Bible into the various African languages.

Yorke said: ‘I consider such initiatives important since they are entirely consistent not only with the National Development Plan (2011) which, among other things, calls for the on-going intellectualisation of African languages but is also in keeping with UKZN’s Language Policy which is meant to further valorise such languages—isiZulu or any other—not to mention UKZN’s commitment to be the Premier University of African Scholarship.’

In thanking Yorke for his selfless service to UKZN, Professor Smit also pointed to his contributions on the African Indigenous Knowledge Systems Committee as well as his developing of relations between the Caribbean and Africa.

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Three students teamed up to compete in the 3rd Annual Glenwood High School Gordon Murray Downhill Challenge as part of their final-year Mechanical Engineering project.

Phase one of the project produced a kart “built to race under the influence of gravity”. The next step is to design the kart so that it is powered by a “green” machine - a fully electric motor.

The race is named after Professor Gordon Murray, a Glenwood High Old Boy and renowned designer of Formula One race cars and the McLaren F1 road car. One of the primary aims of the challenge is to encourage not only science as a subject but also automotive engineering as a career.

The UKZN team consisted of engineering students Mr Kasheel Goberdhan, Mr Akhil Gangaram and Mr Killian Nair. They were supervised by Professor Glen Bright, Ms Fiona Leverone and Mr Vince van Erk.

All the members are avid car enthusiasts and the project gave them an opportunity to explore the design and construction process of a vehicle.

In terms of designing and manufacturing the vehicle, the team experienced some challenges such as the sourcing of components, modification, and perfecting the braking and steering systems. Mr Roland Koch, Technical Manager in the School of Engineering, explained that ‘the UKZN entry had a technically advanced suspension and breaking system’.

The team ended up first in their division and second overall.

‘The project has been exciting and fun,’ said Gangaram. ‘There is a lot of potential out there and a lot of competition which we can’t underestimate. But we are confident our research will pay off.  Our entry is a good advertisement for UKZN Mechanical Engineering.’

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