ANIMAL SCIENTISTS BENEFIT FROM CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

ANIMAL SCIENTISTS BENEFIT FROM CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Ms Marion Young and Mr Shaun Groenink, who have produced ground-breaking research in the area of African Horse Sickness (AHS), recently participated in an interdisciplinary climate change conference in Uppsala, Sweden. 

Organised by Sweden’s National Veterinary Institute, the conference focused on the changing climatic conditions around the world and the effect this may have on the distribution and ecology of human and animal pests and diseases. A major discussion area focused on “whether evolutionary processes have the power to substantially influence the patterns and rates of species’ response to climate change.”  Many of the talks at the conference dealt with the ability of various models to predict disease now and in the future. 

According to Ms Young, of particular interest was a talk by Professor Katia Koelle of Duke University on her research which successfully applied models to cholera and dengue fever outbreaks.  Her findings are directly applicable to the modeling of AHS and the UKZN researchers were able to find important parallels that will assist them in their future work. 

Ms Young said, “We were reminded of the fact that there are many different levels to studying the effects of climate change – stopping at the individual level may not be good enough in the future.  Particularly since AHS is endemic to South Africa, we need to be the experts in this country for successful dissemination of information and prophylaxis should the virus be vectored overseas.” 

Both Ms Young and Mr Groenink presented posters on their research which highlighted important perspectives on epidemiology, early warning systems and disease prophylaxis. Their work received favourable comments and generated much discussion.  Ms Young talked about her research, conducted with her Masters student, Mr Alex Jenkins, which looked at the characteristics of midges (the organisms that carry the AHS disease) in order to enhance current practical control measures and research methods.  Mr Groenink also presented his cum laude Masters research on the development of a protocol for the molecular serotyping (the process used to categorise bacteria or viruses) of the AHS virus.

At the end of the conference, the UKZN Animal Scientists were invited to the National Veterinary Institute for a tour of their facilities and to meet some of the people that work there. Ms Young had the opportunity to interact with the woman responsible for implementing Sweden’s and the EU’s plan of action should AHS be introduced to the continent.

The School of Religion and Theology marked 150 years of Indian Heritage in a celebration that stemmed from the classroom of Professor Pratap Kumar. The event was mainly co-ordinated by students, in particular Ms Krea Chetty and Mr Sunil Hansjee from the Law Faculty. The event was attended by students from many Disciplines at the Howard College campus.

Head of School, Dr Simanga Khumalo, said that the celebration was not only for the Indian Community but all people of goodwill. It symbolised the long and lasting legacy of the Indian community, which has made notable contributions in politics, business and in religion. He added that the Indian community has much to teach to the rest of the continent and that the time has come for everyone to build a South Africa that is a home for all.

The Consul General of India and guest of honour, Mr Anil Sharan, gave a brief history of India since 1860 and emphasised the need for religious and cultural tolerance. He added that co-operation between India and South Africa will be crucial as India’s economy is expected to grow 16 times in the next few years. He said that India is a mother of knowledge and traditions. He added that students are the future and that the country should invest in them. He concluded by saying that a person should not be judged by religion but by the content of his/her character.

Other speakers included Mr Fuzail Soofie from the Muslim Community and Dr JD Sekola from the Christian Community who shared the contributions of the Muslim and Christian community to South Africa.

Two of Professor Kumar’s students presented their research on South African Hindus and spoke of the importance of family and the temple for the community. Traditional entertainment was provided by students. 


author email : shabangus@ukzn.ac.za

MEDICAL STUDENTS ATTEND STUDENT GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN MONTREAL, CANADA

MEDICAL STUDENTS ATTEND STUDENT GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN MONTREAL, CANADA

Second-year Medical students Ms Lynelle Bowes and Ms Josephine Sekhaolelo represented the South African Medical Students Association (SAMSA) at the 59th International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA) General Assembly in Montreal, Canada from August 1-6. 

 

After a lengthy search for funding, the students received financial assistance from the Dean of the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, Professor Willem Sturm.

 

SAMSA is a national, non-governmental, non-political, student-run organisation that focuses on implementing sustainable community projects among medical students. SAMSA is recognised by the South African government as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and is a member of the IFMSA.

 

The General Assembly is a platform where exchanges are organised by the national exchange officer; all of the delegates who attend receive special training which is carried down to the national and local level. Networks and contracts are made for international projects and relationships between medical students and international organisations are encouraged for the ultimate benefit of society.

 

The theme for the General Assembly was Health and my City, and was aimed at addressing health challenges that are faced as a result of urbanisation and migration.

 

“Attending the General Assembly was an unforgettable experience,” said Ms Bowes. “This profession is a calling, and when I saw the many projects and events that other countries were doing I realised that with help from the right people this could be made possible in our country too,” she said.

 

Some of the sessions they enjoyed were the plenary sessions, a leadership workshop, financial management workshops, an African Regional meeting, a proje
author email : memelal@uykzn.ac.za

FUNDING AS LEVERAGE FOR QUALITY TEACHING AND LEARNING

FUNDING AS LEVERAGE FOR QUALITY TEACHING AND LEARNING

Money Talks! Government Funding as Leverage for Quality Teaching and Learning, was the title of the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Sabiha Essack’s inaugural lecture on September 28. The lecture examined how the Higher Education Funding Framework uses funding as a lever to achieve equitable student access, quality teaching and research, and improved student retention and success.

 

Professor Essack drew on National Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande (2009) and Minister of Education Mrs Naledi Pandor’s (2008) budget speeches which challenged universities to continuously improve access, success, throughput rates and the quality of the Higher Education experience, particularly of Black students at all levels of the education system.

 

She explained that the budget to Higher Education Institutions is divided into categories: earmarked grants, block grants, and institutional restructuring grants. Her lecture paid particular attention to block grants, specifically the teaching input and output grants.

 

Professor Essack presented innovative strategies at the pre-and post student admission stages that would optimize income via these block grants and showed how the Faculty of Health Sciences’ resource base was increased by the Academic Development and Student Success project which enabled the Faculty to meet enrolment targets and increase graduation rates through instituting learning-related interventions to improve student retention and success at UKZN.

 

“It is essential that universities meet enrolment targets by proactively recruiting new students, by minimising academic exclusion and drop-out rates and by ensuring that the majority, if not all students, undertake the full annual course load equating to the full-time equivalent (FTE),” said Professor Essack. She said that it is also imperative that universities increase the number of graduates as a percentage of total enrolments and facilitate completion of, and graduation from, programmes within the minimum amount of time.

 

Professor Essack added that the Faculty’s positive results are due to three main factors: the monitoring of student performance in formative, continuous and summative assessments; the proactive determination of learning-related development needs informing learning interventions; and comprehensive and holistic student support by consolidated, integrated and coherent collaboration of Faculty-based academic staff and the &l
author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL CULTURAL DAY

UKZN CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL CULTURAL DAY

International Cultural Day at UKZN on October 1 was a scintillating mix of song, dance and information- sharing on diverse cultures. UKZN celebrates International Cultural Day annually to emphasise the importance of a global community working together to achieve unity and development.

This year’s celebrations saw students from more than 20 countries gather to create cultural awareness with the intention of promoting tolerance and unity of diverse nations. UKZN has official links with 44 other countries.

Information stalls representing different countries; melodious musical renditions by the South African Military Band; cultural dance and songs by international students; and talks by UKZN academics and international students were all part of the day. Guests wore colourful clothing representing different cultures.

Welcoming guests, Executive Director: Corporate Relations Division, Ms Nomonde Mbadi emphasised the importance of interaction between individuals from different countries and sharing a spirit of unbuntu. “Democracy in South Africa has provided all of us with an opportunity to engage with nations across the world. This global interface is critical in institutions of higher learning. Academics across our campuses provide the interface with the rest of the world through robust collaborative academic and teaching engagement. And it is this exchange of knowledge that is critical to the growth and development of our country.

“I believe that the understanding and respect of different cultures is fundamental to peace and harmony. It is this tolerance of cultural differences that would eradicate racism and xenophobia, globally. International Cultural Day acknowledges the different cultures and gives us the opportunity to engage,” said Ms Mbadi.

Ms Gotshephamang Limba from Botswana who is a third year optometry student at UKZN viewed the event as an opportunity to learn about an array of cultures. She hoped her stall with information about Botswana would educate and encourage people to visit her country. While loving her studies at UKZN Ms Limba had to deal with the challenges of being away from home and becoming accustomed to independent living.

Turkish Bachelor of Education student, Miss Zeynep Yokmac said the event signified a unification of various cultures in a celebration of learning and sharing of diversity. Miss Yokmac has adapted well to studying at UKZN and found the higher learning environment welcoming to foreign students. She said lecturers and students she engaged with were receptive to her foreignness and accommodated her differences.

author email : maharajne@ukzn.ac.za

SCHOOL COMMEMORATES 100 YEARS OF CHEMISTRY

SCHOOL COMMEMORATES 100 YEARS OF CHEMISTRY

Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most influential people in the history of Science, said, “If I see further than most, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” In celebrating 100 years of academic excellence, the School of Chemistry paid tribute to its ‘giants’ -   dedicated teachers, technicians and students who, over the years, have contributed to the success of the discipline.  

 

As one of the founding disciplines of the former Natal University College in Pietermaritzburg, the School of Chemistry commemorated this significant milestone by holding a special function on September 17.  Aimed at past postgraduate students and friends of the School, the day’s event attracted 120 delegates. 

 

Visitors were treated to a review of the history of the School, presentations by current and past students on their research activities and experiences, tours of the School’s facilities and a poster session by current postgraduate students.  Current and past laboratory technicians also had the opportunity to present their experiences and insights.  Some of the talks revealed some interesting history and anecdotes such as the story of Burnett’s Ghost that supposedly haunts the Warren Research Laboratory.  The day culminated in a formal dinner which included a keynote address by Professor Wog Hawksworth, former chemistry student and lecturer. 

 

As part of the celebratory activities, the School produced a commemorative book which highlights its history, progress and significant achievements over the years.  It also documents the leaders that have contributed to its success.  Chairperson of the Centenary Committee, Professor Ross Robinson, said: “We certainly hope this book will bring back fond memories of friends, reactions that finally worked and NMR spectra that posed more questions than answers.” 

 

Head of the School of Chemistry on the Pietermaritzburg campus, Professor Fanie van Heerden, commented on the quality of the Chemistry teaching programmes and the enthusiasm and camaraderie of the staff and students.  She said:  “We are confident that this enthusiasm will only grow in strength in the future, and that the UKZN School of Chemistry will continue to produce excellent students.”
author email : crookesv@ukzn.ac.za

SPOTLIGHTING POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH EXCELLENCE

SPOTLIGHTING POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH EXCELLENCE

The Faculty of Science and Agriculture, the leading Faculty at UKZN in terms of research output, held its annual Research Day on September 23 on the Pietermaritzburg campus.   The event was dedicated to highlighting the research activities of the Faculty’s Masters and PhD students via oral and poster presentations. 

Co-ordinated by the Science and Agriculture Postgraduate Society, the event received sponsorship from the UKZN Research Office and the 10 Schools within the Faculty.  Other organisations and units supported the day by sponsoring a table at which they marketed their services – these included: Labotec, the Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Office, Van Schaik Bookstore and UKZN Innovation. 

The Research Day was opened by the Dean of Science and Agriculture, Professor Deo Jaganyi. A-rated researcher, Professor Steve Johnson, presented the keynote address titled: Navigating through the research landscape of South Africa. Throughout the day 36 postgraduate students presented oral presentations which were divided into two streams: Mathematics (M) Stream and Life and Environmental Sciences (LES) Stream. Thirty-five students presented their research in poster format and a poster viewing session was held over the lunch period.

Sixteen judges, comprising senior students and staff, evaluated the presentations and generous prizes were presented to the deserving students by Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Professor Nelson Ijumba.  First, second and third prizes in the M Stream went to: Mr Patrick Ali, Mr Daniel Uken and Mr Isaac Mwangi.  Winners in the LES Stream included: Ms Lorinda Jordaan, Mr Kyle Goetsch and Ms Lorika Beukes.  The Best Poster Presentation was won by Ms Alana Eksteen. 

Professor Ijumba spoke highly of Science and Agriculture, emphasising that it is the flagship Faculty in terms of research and innovation.  He thanked the leadership of the Faculty for taking the annual Research Day seriously and said that it is the only Faculty in the University who consistently holds this kind of event.  He added that the postgraduate students should count themselves lucky to be part of such a productive faculty.  “You made the right choice to come to this Faculty,” he said.
author email : crookesv@ukzn.ac.za

EDGEWOOD STUDENTS OBSERVE INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP WEEK

EDGEWOOD STUDENTS OBSERVE INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP WEEK

As part of International Coastal Clean-up Week, students from the Faculty of Education’s BEd programme took part in a cleanup of the Umbilo River, along Mariannhill Road on September 18.

 

The students were part of a team of 57, which was arranged by the Richmond Mariannhill Conservancy (RMC) under the umbrella of the Cowies Hill Lions Club. They described the cleanup as a real ‘eye opener’ and look forward to giving back to the environment in the future.


author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

FRONTLINES: THE REMIX PROVIDES A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON WAR

FRONTLINES: THE REMIX PROVIDES A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON WAR

FrontLines: The Remix, a collaboration between the Drama Departments of UKZN and the Durban University of Technology (DUT) was staged at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on the Howard College campus from September 28 to October 3.

 

This five-day sensation was a unique audio visual experience juxtaposing an assortment of choral, contemporary dance, and Spoken Word pieces which gave a fresh perspective on modern societies' relationship with war and conflict.

 

Devised and directed by Ms Tamar Meskin (UKZN) and Ms Tanya van der Walt (DUT) and featuring students from both departments, FrontLines: The Remix was an extension of the watershed concept of Frontlines which was staged last year.

 

Directing seat specialists in the fields of video, audio and spoken word performance helped provide a contemporary youth-driven perspective on modern warfare, and the conflicts that continue to define our continent in the media-saturated eyes of the world.  Directors included video artist, Ms Karen Logan, also known as aTari-Logo; Mr Liam Magner, also known as DJ Veranda-Panda; and Spoken Word HipHop artist, Mr Iain EWOK Robinson.


“Africa is burning, from the fires of the forgotten soldiers of the struggle, to the heat of historical inequalities...  Today, all you need to be a soldier is a gun and a lack of hope.  If we are meant to have learned from our mistakes then why are we still at war?  Who is really gaining from this continued conflict?  Who is it that has such a vested interest in the sustainability of war?  Certainly not the average person, certainly not the poor, definitely not the children, so who?  These are the questions and the realities that drive the production of FrontLines: The Remix,” said Ms Meskin and Ms van der Walt.


author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN’S LUNCH HOUR CONCERTS NURTURE INCREDIBLE TALENT

UKZN’S LUNCH HOUR CONCERTS NURTURE INCREDIBLE TALENT

Soothing and a pleasure to watch, Recorders United, a special concert showcasing groups of young beginners playing with the Botswana Recorder Students and more advanced students in massed items, was staged at the Howard College Theatre on  September 29.

 

This concert was one of the School of Music’s weekly events, which expose local and international musical talent to the general public.

 

Apart from an impressive effort by the young beginners, some younger than 10, Recorders United featured the UKZN Recorder Quartet who recently performed with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO), and won the recorder ensemble section at the eThekwini Eisteddfod. Soloists from UKZN included Ms Samantha Goldblatt and Ms Tatum Cox.

 

Members of the Quartet said that playing recorder has always been a wonderful experience. Some members started as early as age five and they have been playing together ever since. “The University of KwaZulu-Natal has opened many doors and opportunities like meeting people from different countries,” they said.

 

Second year Music student, Mr Sboniso Ndawonde and third year student from Botswana, Mr Onthatile Saboi said that playing recorder and being at UKZN have been a marvelous experience.  Mr Saboi is particularly excited about sharing all the knowledge he is learning at the School of Music back home in Botswana.

 

Mrs Sandra Breschi who lectures the students said she is very pleased with their work and their zealousness to learn.


author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za