UKZN PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN ADVANCING CYBERTECHNOLOGY

UKZN PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN ADVANCING CYBERTECHNOLOGY

South Africa’s Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC), a Department of Science and Technology (DST) initiative which is managed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Meraka Institute, is the continent’s largest publicly funded high performance computing facility.  Since its inception in 2007, UKZN has made a significant contribution towards its development and is essentially the ambassador for the entire provincial region within the scope of the cyber infrastructure. 

High performance computing deals with the cutting edge of computing technology and is the use of supercomputers and computer clusters for running advanced application programmes efficiently, reliably and quickly.  It enables scientists and researchers to solve problems which today’s ordinary computers cannot accommodate, e.g. climate modeling, the simulation of nuclear reactions and human genome mapping.  Scientific researchers, engineers and academic institutions are the most common users of high performance computing. 

The CHPC uses more than 2 000 processors and 400 terabytes, along with smaller clusters, and has a vision to provide South African researchers with world-class facilities to enable global competitiveness.  Its main aim is “to enhance significant research, address grand challenges, and grow computational research into a viable mode alongside experiment and theory across all academic disciplines.”

UKZN has been involved in the CHPC initiative from the start.  It has conducted postgraduate courses on high performance computing as well as a number of research workshops. The University holds a significant quota of seats on the various CHPC boards on behalf of the KwaZulu-Natal region, and several of its research groups have received funding and support for different flagship projects.

Within the CHPC, Special Interest Groups (SIGs) comprising boards or experts have been created to provide advice to the DST on the needs of the academic and industrial research community.  The following UKZN researchers hold seats on the various SIGs:  Astronomy/Cosmology: Dr Kavilan Moodley from the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit; Chemistry/Biochemistry: Professor Gert Kruger from the School of Chemistry; Computer Science/GRID: Mr Luke Vorster from the School of Computer Science; and Physical Science: Professor Francesco Petruccione from the Centre for Quantum Technology. 

A new fibre optic South African National Research Network (SANReN) ring has recently been installed by the CHPC which wil
author email : crookesv@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN’S ccrri HOSTS THE FIRST OF ITS 2011 SEMINARS

UKZN’S ccrri HOSTS THE FIRST OF ITS 2011 SEMINARS

The Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity (ccrri) hosted the first of its seminars for the year with renowned South African journalist and History PhD student at Yale University, Mr Jacob Dlamini speaking about his book, Native Nostalgia on February 8.

 

The ccrri hosts regular seminars where international and local students, academics and intellectuals are invited to engage with critical issues on race, identity and the research around it. “What better way to kick-start our seminar series than to have Jacob speak about Native Nostalgia,” said the Director of the ccrri, Professor Gerhard Maré.

 

The book uses the life of a young black South African who spent his childhood under apartheid to ask the question: What does it mean to remember aspects of a (Black) life lived under apartheid with fondness and longing?

 

Although unsure of how the book would be received, Dlamini said he wanted to examine whether South Africans understand apartheid - their myths then and perceptions today – in the form of reflective nostalgia. He said that he has found that people’s stories are incomplete without making reference to the past. For example, he referred to the archetypal Black pensioner trotted out by newspapers at each general election in South Africa, with a caption which says: “Things were better under apartheid.”

 

One of Dlamini’s arguments at the seminar was that nostalgia is essentially about the present. “It’s about the present anxiety reflecting on the past,” he said, and questioned whether it would be a factor should all South Africans wake up tomorrow with bigger houses and flat screen television sets for example. Was the struggle against apartheid not for a bigger vision of a better life?

 

“Some parts of the book were very comforting,” said an audience member during the seminar. The discussion also raised the important question: What are the values that stem from the amorality of apartheid today? “It could be a question of wanting a fuller life,” said Maré.


author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH RECEIVES ANFASA GRANT FOR WRITING PROJECT

PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH RECEIVES ANFASA GRANT FOR WRITING PROJECT

Professor Judith Coullie, a lecturer in English Studies at the Howard College campus, is one of nine winners of the Academic and Non-fiction Authors’ Association of South Africa Grant Scheme 2011.

 

The grant scheme provides around R20 000 to R25 000 for an author to take leave, for instance, and devote herself or himself to the writing or the preparation of a manuscript, to travel, to undertake research, or to participate in a relevant training programme for purposes of completing the manuscript.

 

Coullie, whose passion and area of specialisation is Life Writing, will be working on a book on the ethics of memory in post-apartheid South Africa. She will look at a range of ways in which memory is employed and ask: How can memory, as it is deployed in life writing in post-apartheid South Africa, be ethical or unethical? What ethical principles inform life writing projects and to what effect?

“My PhD focused on apartheid autobiography, and I have since published numerous journal articles on apartheid and post-apartheid autobiographical writing,” said Coullie. Two of these articles have been translated and have appeared in French and Chinese journals. Coullie has lectured at UKZN for 24 years since she started at the former University of Durban-Westville. Apart from being an NRF-rated researcher, she has published extensively on auto/biographical writing.

“We tend to think of memory as something that is out of our control, feeling that remembering and forgetting are simply a function of the individual's mind.  However, in practice, societies regulate and channel memory by means of commemorative occasions (such as public holidays), by means of officially sanctioned versions of history and memorials, monuments, museums and so on…. My interest is in the ethical implications of memory practices in the autobiographical writing which is emerging in post-apartheid South Africa,” she sai
author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

AGRICULTURE PROGRAMME ON THE UP-AND-UP

AGRICULTURE PROGRAMME ON THE UP-AND-UP

The joint UKZN and Cedara College Bachelor of Agriculture (B Agric) programme in Agricultural Extension and Rural Resource Management has gained considerable ground since its inception a year ago.  It has nearly doubled its number of first-year students and all of its second-year students have returned.  It is making an active contribution to the advancement of agriculture in KwaZulu-Natal and in the country. 

Co-ordinator of the programme, Dr Steven Worth is excited about its progress and said:  “We have been amazed at the response on all sides to the programme.  The University, Cedara College and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture have really pulled together to make this work.”

The B Agric, which is offered through UKZN’s School of Agricultural Sciences and Agribusiness, is a three-year degree which focuses on the education and development of agricultural extension practitioners in developmental agriculture.  It integrates practical learning in agricultural production and farm management offered at Cedara College with specifically designed courses in agricultural extension, rural development and rural resource management.  All the courses are taught at Cedara College, located in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, and include all the practical elements of farming. “It is a very hands-on qualification underpinned by a very rigorous academic learning framework,” said Worth.  

In addition to producing high-quality extension practitioners, the B Agric will also generate a number of honours, and later Masters students who will contribute to the overall research profile of the School, Faculty and University.  

Although other institutions offer similar agricultural programmes, the B Agric is the first of its kind in South Africa.  It is the first one to be floated under the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)’s new list of registered qualifications and is also the first to be taught at an agricultural college while enjoying full university degree status.  It represents the culmination of eight years’ research by Worth who looked into the educational aspects related to the failure of agricultural extension in the country.  Concluding that none of South Africa’s agricultural qualifications adequately prepare graduates to meet the needs of developing farmers, Worth persuaded UKZN to revamp its existing B Agric qualification.  The result: a degree which produces professional practitioners “who can walk with farmers and grasp the practical realities of their production and economic issues” while at the same time are competent to engage with scientists. 

During the first week of February, the newly launched South African National Space Agency (SANSA) officially appointed Dr Sandile Malinga as Chief Executive Officer.  A space physicist, Malinga spent some of his formative years at UKZN.  In 2002 he joined the former University of Natal as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Physics.  He later went on to become a Dean’s Assistant in the Faculty of Science and Agriculture, based at UKZN’s Westville campus.  In 2007 he left the University to take up a position as Manager of the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory which culminated in him becoming its Managing Director. 

In January 2010 Malinga was appointed as caretaker CEO of SANSA, a position in which, according to the Minster of Science and Technology, Mrs Naledi Pandor “he demonstrated his efficiency and capability”.  She added, “We are now looking forward to seeing the Agency flourishing.” 

While at UKZN Malinga’s research focused on atmospheric dynamics.  An active member of Physics, he was part of the Southern African Hemisphere Auroral Radar Experiment (SHARE), located at the South African Antarctic base in Antarctica which is part of an international radar network for studying the Earth’s upper atmosphere. As Dean’s Assistant, his portfolio involved monitoring students at risk.  This came at a crucial time in the evolution of the University when the Bachelor of Science Mathematics Stream was being moved from Howard College to Westville.  His UKZN colleagues remember him as being good at “keeping in touch” with the students as well as his strict, but kind and concerned, demeanor. 

Malinga will have his work cut out for him in his new position as, in the words of Pandor, “the space industry is now big business.  It is not simply a matter of space travel.  It’s also about an industry that has enormous potential for future growth.”  The three main priorities of SANSA include: environment and resources management; health, safety and security; and innovation and economic development.
author email : crookesv@ukzn.ac.za

IZIFUNGO ZABAFUNDI BEZOMTHETHO

IZIFUNGO ZABAFUNDI BEZOMTHETHO

Abafundi abangu 260 abenza unyaka wokuqala ezifundweni zezoMthetho bafungisiwe emcimbini obuwenzelwe esikhungweni sase Howard College mhla zingu 11 ku Nhlolanja (February).

Isikhulumi sosuku uNjingalwazi Karthy Govender ofundisa khona kwezoMthetho utshele abafundi ukuthi impumelelo isezandleni zabo nokuthi akekho omunye umuntu ozokwenza baphumelele ngaphandle kokuthi bazenzele bona. Ubakhumbuzisile ukuthi ngokuhamba kwesikhathi sebezoba ngabakhuseli nabalondolozi boMthethosisekelo waseNingizimu Africa ikakhulukazi labo abazosebenzela imiphakathi, kufanele bahlale beziphatha ngendlela ekhusela umoya, inhloso nemgomo yoMthethosisekelo ngaso sonke isikhathi.  

Umphathi wezomkhakha zezoMthetho, uNjingalwazi Managay Reddi ubamukele abafundi wabafisela okuhle ezifundweni zabo. Abafundi bazisayinile izifungo zabo base beya esiteji ukuyothatha ibhuku labo loMthethosisekelo.

Izifungo bezifundeka kanje: ukuthi abafundi bazoziphatha ngendlela efanele; balandele umthetho weNyuvesi; bahloniphe abalingani babo, othisa, nabasebenzi; basebenzise izinsiza zasenyuvesi ngendlela efanele ngoba zenzelwe bona nezizukulwane ezizayo zaseNingizimu Africa; bazimisele ngayo yonke indlela, babeqotho kukona konke abakwenzayo manje bengabafundi noma sebesebenza.

Inani labafundi abazokwenza ezomthetho lenyukile makuqhathaniswa neminye iminyaka edlule.

Click here for english version


author email : shabangus@ukzn.ac.za

2011 SEMINAR SERIES KICKS OFF AT THE LEADERSHIP CENTRE

2011 SEMINAR SERIES KICKS OFF AT THE LEADERSHIP CENTRE

Professor Theo Andrew, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the Durban University of Technology, presented the first of a series of Leadership Centre seminars on Interdisciplinary Studies in Complex Systems. Speaking to 30 students and academic staff, Professor Andrew presented a talk on Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) and its Relevance to Complex Problem Situations in Engineering within the context of a systems thinking approach to understanding complexity.

Andrew provided a clear overview of SSM and presented an example of how useful it was when Telkom was confronted with a complex problem situation in a deep rural environment, where conventional approaches to complexity do not work. He pointed out that the engineers in the situation, who were familiar with hard system approaches to engineering problems, were amazed at the kinds of data that SSM revealed and which allowed for more systemic interventions.

Andrew is an internationally-renowned scholar, who has undertaken research and study visits in several countries around the world, and published in prestigious international journals and conference proceedings. He has delivered plenary papers overseas and serves on the editorial board of two international journals. Andrew continues to publish and supervise Masters and doctoral candidates. He is a member of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) and a member of the Board of the Society for Engineering Educators of South Africa (SEESA).

The seminar was co-ordinated by Ms Sandra Hildbrand, an international student from Germany, who is doing her PhD at the Leadership Centre.


author email : pillaykri@ukzn.ac.za

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS’ ORIENTATION ON THE WESTVILLE CAMPUS

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS’ ORIENTATION ON THE WESTVILLE CAMPUS

An Orientation Day for international students was held at the Graduate School of Business on the Westville campus on February 3. The event was organised by the International Student Office.

Director of University Relations, Mr Leonard Mzimela officially welcomed the visitors. Countries represented included the DRC, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Belgium, Swaziland, Lesotho, India, Germany, Kenya, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Finland, Norway and the USA.

The students include undergraduates, post-graduates, post-doctoral fellows and study abroad/exchange students. They were introduced to internal student service providers on the Westville campus, including the SRC and the International Students’ Association.

The presentations were sweetly interspersed with the voice of international student Leonard Mutambanengwe, singing a song by Louis Armstrong, What a Wonderful World. Officials from Home Affairs and Medical Aid representatives were also present to share information on passports, study/work permits and medical aid.  They extended their hand of friendship and assistance to the visitors.

The Orientation ended with a vote of thanks, followed by refreshments and further networking /interaction in the COMSA Lounge.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Law and Management Studies, Professor John Mubangizi supported the Orientation.  Special appreciation for their support was extended to Corporate Relations Division, Student Services, International Relations, Audio-Visual, the Upper Caff, the SRC, the International Student Association, Facilities Management, and the Graduate School of Business.


author email : ramlachanp@ukzn.ac.za