CSIR AND UKZN SIGN A NEW CHAPTER OF INNOVATION

CSIR AND UKZN SIGN A NEW CHAPTER OF INNOVATION

It’s the stuff of science fiction, but if collaborations between one of South Africa’s major scientific bodies go as planned, UKZN could soon be home to one of the country’s first electronic ‘families’ using artificial intelligence to advance technology into a pulsating and vibrant cyber future.

This was one of the key issues raised on November 1 when the Council for Scientific Research (CSIR) and UKZN signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at forging innovative partnerships between the two research bodies.

The partnership, signed by Professor Nelson Ijumba, UKZN Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Dr Thulani Dlamini, a member of CSIR’s Group Executive in charge of Research and Development,   is part of the Department of Science and Technology’s push to translate scientific knowledge into ‘sustainable and relevant’  product.

Professor Rob Slotow, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, said that partnerships of this nature ‘serve to remind us that these relationships need to be built as part of the national landscape. It is critical that we not only translate what we know into viable use, but develop our human capacity.’

Fresh minds and having a strategic focus on areas like food security, sustainable energy and water were, said Ijumba, the ‘cornerstones’ of a national perspective that believed in the sharing of human resources.

Highlighting the University’s work on artificial intelligence and robotics as an exciting potential for further research and development, Dlamini said the CSIR had a number of core research disciplines that it was exploring.

‘We are formalizing arrangements with 14 universities in South Africa, including UKZN, defining the boundaries of research and adding crispness to our endeavours.’author email : online@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN SCIENTIST RECEIVES PRESTIGIOUS OXFORD MEDICAL FELLOWSHIP

UKZN SCIENTIST RECEIVES PRESTIGIOUS OXFORD MEDICAL FELLOWSHIP

A caring approach and a burning passion for women’s health – especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS - have resulted in UKZN researcher, Dr Senge Sibeko, receiving the Oxford Nuffield Medical Fellowship 2011/12.

 

Sibeko, who was overjoyed when she received the good the news from the University of Oxford in England recently, said the fellowship would allow her ‘protected time to study towards a laboratory PhD in the UK’ optimising her training towards developing and improving HIV preventive strategies for women.

 

Sibeko presented at the Multipurpose Prevention Technologies (MPT) for Reproductive Health Symposium in Washington last month where global experts on HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health gathered to discuss and advance the emerging MPT science.

 

The aim of the symposium was to further the goal of providing women around the world with safe, effective, low cost, and user-friendly means of protecting themselves simultaneously from HIV, other sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections, and/or unintended pregnancy.

 

Sibeko spoke at the symposium on the issue of biological plausibility for the association between contraceptive use and HIV infection, an area in which she is currently conducting research.

 

Relatively late in her career, Sibeko decided to study towards a PhD in Mucosal Immunology of the reproductive tract to obtain the skill and tools needed to specialise in the field of improving women’s health by biomedical HIV preventive strategies at global health level.

 

After qualifying as an obstetrician and gynaecologist in 2005 and as an epidemiologist at the Columbia University in New York on a CU-SA Fogarty AITRP award in 2009, Sibeko is now a Research Gynaecologist at the Centre for the AIDS Programs of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) while also work
author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

AFRICAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AWARD FOR LEADING UKZN SCIENTISTS

AFRICAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AWARD FOR LEADING UKZN SCIENTISTS

Renowned UKZN scientists, Professor Salim Abdool Karim and Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, have received an African Academy of Sciences award for their research in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

The husband and wife team were presented with the inaugural Olusegun Obasanjo Prize at an academy function attended by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo after whom the award is named.

The prize is specifically for the couple’s highly acclaimed work in the use of tenofovir gel microbicide to prevent HIV infection and genital herpes in women. Their research showed use of the gel reduced HIV acquisition by 39 percent overall and by 54 percent among those who used the gel consistently.  It also revealed that the gel prevents genital herpes (Herpes Simplex Virus - 2) - an incurable lifelong sexually transmitted infection which enhances the spread of HIV - by 51 percent in women.

This award-winning breakthrough was the culmination of 17 years of microbicide research by the two professors.  The CAPRISA 004 study is particularly significant as it is a global first in empowering women against HIV.  Tenofovir gel, a pioneering HIV prevention strategy that women can control, is particularly important for young women, who can rarely negotiate condom use or faithfulness with their male partners.

AIDS and global health leaders have labelled the results ‘a game changer’, ‘a true breakthrough for AIDS prevention’, and ‘a significant milestone for women in the 30-year history of the HIV and AIDS epidemic’. The finding was ranked among the Top Ten Scientific Breakthroughs of 2010 by Science.

Tenofovir gel is set to alter the future trajectory of the HIV epidemic.  In South Africa alone, it is estimated that use of the gel has the potential to avert 1.3 million new HIV infections and 800 000 AIDS deaths over the next 20 years.

Once implemented on a broad scale, Tenofovir gel is set to save millions of lives and mark the turning point in global HIV epidemic.


author email : online@ukzn.ac.za

PROFESSOR PILLAY APPOINTED TO CHINESE MEDICINE SOCIETY BOARD

PROFESSOR PILLAY APPOINTED TO CHINESE MEDICINE SOCIETY BOARD

Professor Tahir Pillay, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Health Sciences, has been appointed as a council member on the first Board of the Committee for Examination and Evaluation of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies.

Pillay’s appointment is in recognition of his academic achievements and contribution to the international propagation of Chinese medicine. The appointment was announced at the recent 2nd World Education Congress of Chinese Medicine where Pillay presented on: “The International Development of Traditional Medicine.”

Commenting on his experience at the Congress, Pillay said: ‘One of the first things I learnt about Chinese medicine was as a student in our Medical School. I distinctly remember Professor Downing, who was an anaesthetist, informing us that Naloxone (opioid receptor blocker) blocked the effects of acupuncture. Having just learnt pharmacology, I understood this meant that acupuncture had a physiological basis and was fascinated by this as a young medical student. It is interesting how small facts remain with you after decades,’ said Pillay.

‘In Beijing, I was also fascinated by how Chinese medicine had evolved under the influence of computers and electronics where nowadays laser acupuncture is state of the art!! I believe that the College should be looking into research programmes in this area to inform evidence-based medicine.’


author email : francism@ukzn.ac.za

WATER PRESERVATION CENTRAL IN THE BATTLE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

WATER PRESERVATION CENTRAL IN THE BATTLE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

It is vital for governments and communities to take urgent action to preserve fresh water – a finite source which is the lifeblood of agriculture.

This was the thrust of a presentation on the Pietermaritzburg campus by Dr Jamie Pittock, Director of International Programmes for the UNESCO Chair in Water Economics and Transboundary Water Governance at the Australian National University.

Pittock’s talk titled: “Climate, energy and water policies: managing conflict and seizing synergies,” focused on research conducted in nine countries, including South Africa, which produced recommendations on how governments and businesses could make better climate, energy, and water policy decisions to minimise their contributions to global warming.

His talk revealed the importance of governments and communities taking active steps now to preserve fresh water and also while the supply gradually diminished over time.

Pittock’s concerns lie in the finding that many projects designed to benefit the environment and mitigate climate change actually result in perverse outcomes and increase environmental harm and destruction due to lack of research and mismanagement. He said climate change policies to be introduced at the COP17 Conference in Durban later this month should induce rapid change for all nations and focus on creating new economies and new technologies with limited regulations, creating non-stationary environments because of the urgent need to get results.

For these policies to be properly implemented, Pittock suggested good, integrated governance systems for fighting climate change, including aspects such as leadership, broad legal mandates, mechanisms of integrating policy horizontally and vertically, independent governance mechanisms, monitoring and active reporting systems.

He argued that these goals should result in institutions which favoured the collation of key knowledge, deployment of better technology, more integrated natural reso
author email : mavaneni@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN STUDENT TEACHERS AT RURAL SCHOOLS

UKZN STUDENT TEACHERS AT RURAL SCHOOLS

A development project designed by Ms Jane Pennefather - a Lecturer and School Experience Co-ordinator at UKZN’s School of Education - provided Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students at UKZN with the opportunity of completing one month of their August school placement period in one of five deeply rural schools in the Lusikisiki/Port St John’s area.

The selection of the five schools is based on existing informal partnerships with the schools, deep local knowledge of the areas in which the schools are based and an awareness of the environmental threats faced by the area.  

‘The challenge of producing teachers to teach in rural areas or to understand their responsibility in working with under-resourced schools is not simply one of teacher supply – it is also about teacher deployment and attitude change,’ said Pennefather.

The project also addressed an educational problem - the challenge Teacher Education faces in meeting some of the needs of rural education ‘particularly the training of teachers who have a positive orientation to teaching in rural contexts or working in partnerships with under-resourced schools and who have the flexible competences to teach in a range of contexts.

‘Rather than focusing on deficit development with its outlook that assumes people lack resources and skills and that these inadequacies need to be overcome, our partnership approach recognizes economic poverty. However, it acknowledges and celebrates the stories of hope and change: the cohesion of many communities, the indigenous knowledge processes which are often widely intact and the rich social fabric which has enabled people in poor communities to support each other in a context of HIV and AIDS,’ said Pennefather.

‘It constitutes a response to the national imperative to educate teachers for rural contexts and to challenge the dominant discourses based in a deficiency framework which many pre-service teachers exhibit in their interactions with each other and in their responses towards contexts viewed as rural and by implication inferior and undesirable.’

The value to South Africa of following strategy by overseas governments to build internal student capacities and attract global talent was debated at a seminar at UKZN.

The discussion was sparked following a presentation at a University Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO) seminar by Professor John Douglass of the Centre for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) at the University of California in the United States.

Douglass, in Durban as a guest of UKZN and the Durban University of Technology to present perspectives on talent management at SA universities, said California had become the global talent hub drawing thousands of foreign students and gaining billions of dollars in the process.

UKZN staff and academics at the seminar questioned whether the trend was appropriate for South Africa considering its challenges in Higher Education and, more significantly, this country’s ideals and purpose in that area.

In his talk titled: “Reflections on how to strengthen South African Universities,” Douglass said studies supported by the Association of International Educators showed that international students generated more than $18.8 billion in net income into the US economy during the 2009-10 academic year. California alone had nearly 100 000 international students with an economic impact of almost $3 billion. This export industry was low cost for taxpayers and contributed to high-tech sectors in nations while subsidising domestic student costs.

The popular trends in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) had historically been based on what Douglass described as a “branch campus phenomenon” that concentrated on international affiliations with academics for research and funding. However, student enrolment was by far the most effective and beneficial talent exchange.

Douglass suggested that policy makers and businesses needed to get a better understanding of the benefits of HEIs and support them in building capacity for more student enrolments. He also argued that attracting talent in the global market and increasing talent should not be exclusive goals. author email : mavaneni@ukzn.ac.za

INTSHA YAZWELONKE IKHULUME NGAMATHUBA OMSEBENZI E-UKZN

INTSHA YAZWELONKE IKHULUME NGAMATHUBA OMSEBENZI E-UKZN

Ngobuchwepheshe bamakhompiyutha, iSchool of Development Studies e-UKZN, ibambisene neNhlangano Yezizwe ehlola ezemfundo (i-United Nations Academic Impact), ibibambe isigungu sazwelonke ngaphansi kwesiqubulo esithi “Ukufuna umsebenzi.”

 

Lesigungu besihlose ukusekela i2011 World Youth Report ekhishwe yiNhlangano Yezizwe mayelana nentsha yanamhlanje.

 

Esontweni lesithathu kulesigungu abakwiSchool of Development Studies e-UKZN bagxile enkathini lapho intsha isingena emsebenzini, ikakhulukazi lapho ithola umsebenzi wokokuqala. Bahlole ukusabalaka kolwazi ngezomsebenzi nokuthi utholwa kanjani, ngokunjalo bafuna nezindlela ezahlukahlukene zokwandisa lolwazi ekululekeni intsha.

 

Izinxoxo ziphinde zabheka amathuba amaningi angase avelele abantu abasha bazwelonke.

 

Zibe ziningi izinxoxo kusukela ku-25 kuya ku31 kuMfumfu kulesigungu, lapho kubalwa imibono elinganiselwa ku300 etholakala ku: www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/onlinediscussion/index.html. Lezinxoxo bezandele nakuFacebook kanye noTwitter, kanti kuphawule noNkszMonique Coleman omele intsha yeNhlangano Yezizwe kwezemisebenzi.

 

Kubahlanganyeli balesigungu bekukhona intsha yesilisa nesifazane esukela eminyakeni ka16 kuya ku30. Bekungamazwe ngamazwe entsha edabuka eNingizimu Afrika, Nigeria, Bangladesh, United Kingdom naseVenezuela. UNksz Nduta Mbarathi ongumfundi weMasters kwiDevelopment Studies e-UKZN uthe ‘Imfihlo yokuthola umsebenzi wakho wamaphupho ukuthi uqale kancane, uzimisele ukufunda nokukhula uze uthole amakhono azokusiza ufinyelele.’

 

Cishe bonke abahlanganyeli kulesigungu bakhulume ngesipiliyoni esihle nesimbi asebebe naso ngesikhathi befuna imisebenzi.

Many minds shut down at the thought of understanding let alone studying Statistics which is exactly the attitude a Dutch author and academic is working hard to change.

Nel Verhoeven, Associate Professor of Methodology and Statistics at the Roosevelt Academy in Middelburg, Netherlands, says statistics – the practice or science of analysing numerical data to make findings – can be fun and she’s telling the world about it in the form of books and lecture tours.

In Durban as the guest of UKZN, Verhoeven addressed a seminar on the subject and donated 100 e-copies of her book, Doing Research, to honours students.  The Dutch version of the book has sold more than 85 000 copies while the English edition was doing well.

Verhoeven is also involved in a research project with  a  UKZN School of Statistics and Actuarial Science  team  to examine the attitude of students towards statistics and investigate to what extent these change over the course of a semester.  The research will also seek to compare the attitude of students doing statistics by choice with those taking it as a compulsory part of a programme or degree. 

The research has been sponsored by the UKZN's Teaching and Learning Office which hopes the findings will produce valuable knowledge suitable to be adapted for use in studies on attitudes towards other disciplines such as mathematics and engineering.

Head of UKZN's School of Statistics and Actuarial Science, Professor Delia North, said to make the study of statistics more attractive and effective it was was vital both the subject educators and researchers focused attention on the beliefs, attitudes and expectations students brought into lecture rooms or developed over time.

Verhoeven said in her research she measured the attitudes of students towards statistics to assess their attitudes when they start
author email : online@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN MASTERS STUDENT WINS PRESTIGIOUS SCIENTIFIC AWARD

UKZN MASTERS STUDENT WINS PRESTIGIOUS SCIENTIFIC AWARD

UKZN MScAgric graduate, Mr Garreth Sparks, has been awarded the prestigious S2A3 medal which recognises original research at Masters level.

The award, made annually by the Southern Africa Association for the Advancement of Science, is open to all South African universities, universities of technology and institutes of technology.  Only one presentation is made each year to a university and the medal is awarded only once to any one person.

Sparks won the award for being the most outstanding Masters Degree research student in scientific disciplines at UKZN.  The medal was in recognition of his perseverance and dedication in the application of scientific principles in original research and the presentation of a full written dissertation. 

In winning this award, Sparks competed against applicants from all the scientific disciplines, including the natural, chemical, physical, biological, agricultural, medical, engineering, earth, environmental, information technology and mathematical sciences.

Sparks graduated earlier this year summa cum laude with an MScAgric degree in Agricultural Economics.  His research dissertation was supervised by Professor Gerald Ortmann, Acting Head of the School of Agricultural Sciences and Agribusiness, and focused on the issue of biofuels, in particular, on the economic feasibility of producing biodiesel on soybean farms in KwaZulu-Natal. 

Renewable energies, in general, are an increasingly hot topic internationally and indications are that they will remain so for some time to come.

author email : frosts@ukzn.ac.za

CREATING EMPLOYMENT THROUGH CLIMATE CHANGE

CREATING EMPLOYMENT THROUGH CLIMATE CHANGE

Research findings of the “One Million Climate Jobs Campaign,” which outline the significant changes needed in South Africa’s energy use and natural resource protection to combat both climate change and unemployment, were presented by the organisation’s co-ordinator, Ms Rehana Dada, at the Howard College campus.

Dada was hosted by the Centre for Civil Society.

The Campaign promotes civil society solutions for climate change and the creation of decent work, and assists in enhancing the capacity and knowledge base of all South Africans to engage on issues related to climate change and unemployment.  It is helping to develop a broad alliance of civil society organisations around these issues.

The campaign was initiated in March, with 40 organisations playing a role in establishing a proposal for a just transition to a low carbon economy to guide South Africa. These organisations include the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the National Council of Trade Unions, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), UKZN’s Farmer Support Group and Centre for Civil Society.

Desktop research shows that more than three million climate jobs can be created directly by government. The official rate of unemployment is 25 percent but 35- 60 percent is said to be more realistic.

‘More than three million decent jobs can be created to build and maintain renewable wind and solar energy supplies to communities and industries; build homes and public buildings that are energy and water efficient; retrofit old buildings; produce food through agro-ecology techniques that are labour intensive, low in carbon emissions, protect soil and water and produce much healthier food; and expand and improve our public transport infrastructure,’ said Dada.

‘Reducing emissions by providing safe, effective, pro-people public transport systems is key. All the technology and resources to make these changes is available now, and will have many benefits, including a higher quality of life and a more protected natural environment.’

Fourth year UKZN Speech-language therapy and Audiology students conducted a Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day in the KwaDabeka community.

This effort was part of a year-long community project during which students and colleagues from Occupational Therapy and Nursing spent every Thursday in the community engaged in a variety of projects.

One group was primarily engaged with gross and fine motor stimulation, language stimulation and speech/language and audiology screening at the Zakhe Place of Safety, while another group worked mainly with a local crèche introducing different activities focussing on normal development as well as training of the child minders.

A third group of students  joined community health care workers on long, hot ‘treks’ to largely inaccessible houses in the furthest reaches of the KwaDabeka community. This group of students were engaged with offering basic, multi-disciplinary assessment and treatment to persons with disabilities, those at risk and their families at these homes.

This formed the background to the Awareness Day.  A Pastor opened the day in prayer, followed by a representative from the local council who delivered an address to the more than 100 health care workers and clinic staff in attendance.

Students were thrilled with the community response to the day!  The key note speaker was the social worker from Zakhe Place of Safety, who shared tragic insights into the reality of abandoned, abused and neglected children and ‘dustbin babies.’

This set the scene for university students to discuss the importance of understanding childhood development, and
author email : kochh@ukzn.ac.za

SURVEYING STUDENT'S SOCIETY YEAR-END FUNCTION

SURVEYING STUDENT'S SOCIETY YEAR-END FUNCTION

The Surveying Student's Society (SSS) presented awards for academic excellence at its 2011 Year-End Function.

The SSS represents UKZN’s Geomatics Department with its mission being to encourage unity among surveying students, create a platform for communicating with internal and external stake-holders in the Surveying career development fraternity and provide extensive support to the Surveying and Mapping Programme in an effort to attract new students.

The society also encourages unity and academic excellence through various events with the most momentous event being the Annual Year-End Function.  At this function, the Geomatics Department and the society’s achievements for each current year are highlighted, formal goodbyes said to final year students and, most importantly, students of outstanding academic excellence are honored.

This year’s guest speakers were the National SAGI President, Mr Peter Newmarch, and the Chief Director of Cadastral Spatial Information of the Chief Surveyor General’s office, Mr Siyabonga Mdubeki.

 

Both speakers emphasized the need to encourage and motivate students and also to update them on the latest developments in the surveying industry in South Africa and internationally.

 

This event boosts the confidence of students aiming to complete their studies successfully in order to make a sustainable contribution towards the profession.

 

The SSS expressed its grateful thanks to the following sponsors of the highly successful event: Optron Geomatics;  UKZN Geomatics Department; the Head of the School of Civil Engineering, Surveying & Construction, Professor C
author email : 208525214@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN YOUTH JAZZ FESTIVAL 2011

UKZN YOUTH JAZZ FESTIVAL 2011

The School of Music and the Centre for Jazz & Popular Music (CJPM) presented the 6th edition of the UKZN Youth Jazz Festival which culminated in the centre’s 23rd annual Jazz Jol - a fund-raising concert with proceeds going to the Ronnie Madonsela Scholarship Fund which assists current Jazz students with university fees.

This year, in an effort to engage with local high-schools and surrounding communities, the CJPM invited several high-school learners to perform at the concerts which took place on the Howard College campus.

A variety of genres was performed by musicians from Durban High School’s DHS Blues Band; Glenwood High School’s GHS Brass Band; and Umlazi Commercial Technical High School’s UC Jazz Ensemble; as well as Grosvenor Girls High School’s Ashleigh Stapelfeldt; Dr AD Lazarus Secondary School’s Jayden Daniels and Michaela Heale and Nathan Smith  from the private music studio, Create Music .

One of the objectives of the festival is to showcase the prodigious talent within both the Jazz Studies programme at UKZN and the collection of young performers representing local high schools. The festival is also intended to spearhead a new initiative to promote Jazz and Popular Music education in schools and community programmes while creating an opportunity for UKZN to create partnerships with local schools, teachers, community projects and performing artists.

There is much work to be done to bridge the gap between the lack of music education in schools and university entrance requirements towards the study of Music. The School of Music hopes that the UKZN Youth Jazz Festival and associated activities will signal the School’s commitment to this challenge.


author email : khanyilem1@ukzn.ac.za