Centre for Visual Art Hosts Fabric of the Universe

Centre for Visual Art Hosts Fabric of the Universe
Artworks from Fabric of the Universe.

Fabric of the Universe, conceived by award-winning choreographer Lexi Meier, was performed recently at the Jack Heath Gallery at the Centre for Visual Art (CVA).

This immersive installation - created in collaboration with Hannah Lax, Geoff Smuts, Meyrick Tree, Mikha Zeffertt, Chris Hartley and Sean Devonport - recently returned from an award-winning run at the 2016 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and will soon be on show in Cape Town.

Meier, who did her MA in Choreography at Rhodes University, won the Aha award at the Grahamstown Festival in 2015 for her work: Sipping Lapping Slap.

Returning from the Amsterdam Fringe after touring with Piet se Optelgoed, she decided to collaborate and create Fabric of the Universe which received a Standard Bank Ovation award at this year’s Festival.

Meier is interested in the choreographic relationship between body, space and materials. ‘Materials, the design of the work, spaces and inanimate objects often inform how one moves. This is present in Fabric as the work interrogates themes of agency, the process of making and the existential joy of being,’ she said.

As a space of introspection, the senses of touch, sight and sound are engaged in what the production’s composer Geoff Smuts terms a ‘transportative experience’.

The work also features puppet design by Hannah Lax, winner of the Cape Triangular Trophy for her work, Solo, at the 2014 National Arts Festival.


author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

Two UKZN Professors Inducted as Fellows of the African Academy of Sciences

Two UKZN Professors Inducted as Fellows of the African Academy of Sciences
Professor Deresh Ramjugernath (left) and Professor Sreekantha Jonnalagadda.

Two UKZN academics were recently inducted as Fellows of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) at the Academy’s General Assembly held in Kasane, Botswana.

Professor Deresh Ramjugernath and Professor Sreekantha Jonnalagadda of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science were among 34 Fellows inducted, 11 of whom were from South Africa.

Both the UKZN Fellows are in the general field of Chemical Sciences.

The Assembly’s theme was: “Academies as the Voice of Science”, which led to discussion on how academics can contribute to evidence-based policy making. Panel debates focused on intra-African collaboration and sustainable development.

The AAS is a 30-year-old Pan African academic facilitator and think-tank based in Nairobi, Kenya, which helps to set the research agenda for the development needs of the continent. It also recognises advancement and excellence in the sciences in Africa.

Meritorious scientists are made fellows, and join the 330 membership of the Academy.  Among those who collaborate with and recognise ASS and its role, are the New Partnership for Africa’s Agency (NEPAD) and the African Union.         

Jonnalagadda has worked as an academic in Chemistry in Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa for more than 36 years. He became a Fellow of UKZN in 2012 and a Fellow of the SA Chemical Institute in 2014. His expertise and interest lies in: heterogeneous catalysis, water chemistry, chemical kinetics, environmental analytical chemistry, and kinetic modelling and simulations.

Among Jonnalagadda’s noteworthy achievements are his pioneering research in the field of self-ocillatory reactions; research on the quality of air and precipitation in Zimbabwe; and the establishment of a heterogeneous catalysis research group, steering advanced research in this area. He is also active in the treatment of toxic and nonbiodegradeable material in water systems, and microbial disinfection using advanced oxidation processes.

Ramjugernath, who became the youngest ever inducted Fellow of AAS, is very well known for his work in Chemical Engineering at UKZN, where he is Director of the large, productive and reputable Thermodynamics Research Unit (TRU).

He is also the South African Research Chair in Fluorine Process Engineering and Separation Technology. The Chair covers research in chemical thermodynamics and separation technology, reactor technology, and organic synthesis. It supports government’s Fluorochemical Expansion Initiative (FEI), under the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) and it subsidiary Pelchem.

Within the TRU, a large group of postgraduate students and post-doctoral candidates undertake research under his supervision. This includes many joint collaborations with international researchers in the areas of chemical thermodynamic data measurement and model development and property estimation methods, molecular simulations, plasma technology and gas hydrate technology.

Most of the research is industry linked. Measurement of thermodynamic properties and phase behaviour has been a key driver behind the growth of distillation studies and process modelling. An extensive range of specialised equipment is dedicated to chemical thermodynamics and separations technology measurements. The Thermodynamics Research Unit has one of the most extensive laboratory facilities and capabilities for chemical thermodynamics globally.


author : Fiona Higginson
author email : HIGGINSO@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Engineering Dean Runner-Up in 2016 DST Women in Science Awards

UKZN Engineering Dean Runner-Up in 2016 DST Women in Science Awards
Professor Cristina Trois announced as the first runner up in the 2016 DST Women in Science Awards in the Distinguished Women in Science category.

Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Engineering, Professor Cristina Trois, is the first runner-up in the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) annual Women in Science Awards (WISA), in the Distinguished Women in Science category.

The awards recognise and reward excellence, and profile notable female scientists in South Africa as models for younger generations.

The theme for WISA 2016 is Women’s Empowerment and its link to sustainable development.

The awards were presented as part of the DST’s celebration of Women’s Month, with Trois nominated for the Distinguished SA Women in Science Award.

‘I am honoured to have been a finalist among so many incredible women,’ said Trois.

As a female professor and the first woman Dean of Engineering at UKZN, Trois is acutely aware of the role she plays as an example to young women in Science and Engineering. Through her nomination, she hopes to further establish the ‘Engineering is a Girl Thing’ programme to attract more young women into Engineering and Science.

Said Trois: ‘Featuring as a runner-up for such a prestigious award is not only a personal recognition, but also highlights the transdisciplinary nature of Environmental Engineering, positioning engineers as equal contributors to the advancement of knowledge as scientists.’

Trois, originally from Sardinia, has been at UKZN for 20 years and is renowned in her field of Environmental Engineering, with specialised focus on Waste Management and Water/Wastewater Engineering and Treatment.

She has consistently made breakthroughs in her male-dominated field, and is lauded by colleagues for her efficiency, compassion, patience, cheerfulness and ability to motivate staff and deftly resolve conflicts.

A milestone for Trois was her creation, together with two colleagues, of the multidisciplinary Centre for Research in Environmental, Coastal and Hydrological Engineering (CRECHE) in 2001. She also established a state-of-the-art analytical laboratory for Environmental Engineering research.

Trois prioritises research, scholarship, research-exchange programmes and accelerating young engineers and scientists practice/research. She is a C2 NRF-rated researcher with numerous publications to her name, and is an Editor and reviewer for numerous journals and institutions.

She takes her expertise beyond the classroom and laboratory, being recognised for breakthrough contributions to waste science, resource recovery and energy from waste, in particular her development of the innovative ‘cellular method’ of land-filling currently adopted in Durban’s landfill sites. She contributed to the first leachate treatment plant in South Africa, and to the first African, World Bank-funded landfill-gas-to-electricity project, whereby the city of Durban produces 10MW of electricity from waste. She is also working on the upcoming multi-national research endeavour: the Hub for the African City of the Future.

Trois develops academic course work, and also currently supervises 20 postgraduate students and researchers. So far she has graduated 45 postgraduate students in total. She regularly receives awards for research and academic excellence at UKZN, and participates in groups and organisations such as engineering councils, royal societies, waste management institutes, and the United Nations. Internationally she has collaborators in Italy, Britain, India, Germany, France and Switzerland.

The successful development of a dynamic multidisciplinary research group, the establishment of scholarship programmes, the creation of a centre of excellence, the on-going opportunities to scientifically collaborate at national and international level with experts of great calibre are a clear reflection of Trois’s ability to stimulate, initiate and supervise research with passion and dedication.


author : Christine Cuénod
author email : cuenod@ukzn.ac.za

Clinical Sociologist Presents Research at ISA Conference

Clinical Sociologist Presents Research at ISA Conference
Dr Mariam Seedat-Khan.

Clinical Sociologist and UKZN academic Dr Mariam Seedat-Khan presented two research papers at the 3rd International Sociological Association (ISA) Forum of Sociology in Vienna, Austria. 

Her first paper titled: “Learning to Learn in Large Classes”, addressed the challenges academics and students face when there is an increase in student numbers in Social Sciences at universities across South Africa.

‘While student numbers continue to increase, the number of academics that service these students remains constant and in some cases are reduced. Little evidence of infrastructure improvement or its prioritisation is forthcoming,’ said Seedat-Khan, who is the Vice President for Programs for the International Sociological Association Research Committee on Clinical Sociology.

The results of her joint study with Ms Belinda Johnson is based on participant observation through teaching and interacting with first year students at UKZN and the University of Johannesburg. The results indicate that the increasing number of students does not correlate with the number of graduates after a three-year period.

‘Large classes in the Social Sciences are not an uncommon feature in any institution of higher learning in South Africa,’ she said. ‘What was once a comfortable class of 100 to 200 students has now increased to classes in excess of 1 200 students. The changing learning environment affects students, academics, the process of learning and a series of other critical factors that are transferred into our communities and society at large,’ she explained.

Seedat-Khan proposed a move away from traditional curricula towards that which promotes interdisciplinary methodologies which are more relevant to the demands of the job market and responsive to local needs within the context of South Africa.

She also presented “Academia Unplugged: An Intersectional Analysis of the Comparative Career Experiences of Black Women Academics in South Africa”, which is co-authored with PhD candidate, Mrs Raakhee Mansingh.

This mixed-method project examines how gendered, racial experi­ences play out in the careers of Black women academics, how these lived experiences compare, and what successful strategies enable the advancement of Black women in Higher Education (HE).

The experiences of Black women were analysed against the backdrop of HE policies and through interviews and focus groups with Black women and HE stakeholders in South Africa.

Some of the emerging themes were Adherence to Employment Equity Policy, Institutional Culture, the ‘Old Boys’ Network, Role Overload, Support Structures and The Queen Bee Syndrome, Academic Bullying and Coping Mechanisms.

The ongoing project will con­tribute new scholarship and facilitate knowledge exchange on creating inclusive university cultures, co-produced with stakeholders in distinctive socio-historical contexts, thus promoting socio-economic development through enhanced HE performance.


author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN hosts International Higher Education Symposium for Women’s Day

UKZN hosts International Higher Education Symposium for Women’s Day
Participants at the Higher Education Symposium.

An International Higher Education Symposium in honour of National Women’s Day was hosted at UKZN’s Innovation Centre.

The event was presented by the Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Network on Gender, Social Justice and Praxis; the Langalibalele Chair (UKZN) and the Australian Centre for Excellence and Equity in Higher Education.

Speaking at the Symposium, the DVC for Teaching and Learning, Professor Renuka Vithal, said the event provided an important forum to discuss issues around gender equity while at the same time providing a strengthened voice on shared issues.

‘We need to take this debate forward and conduct studies that speak to and shape policy in the Higher Education landscape,’ said Vithal. 

The keynote address was made by Professor Penny Jane Burke of the University of Newcastle in Australia who spoke on: “The Right to Higher Education: Gender and the Politics of Mis/recognition”.

Burke drew on feminist post-structural theoretical perspectives with a focus on the insidious workings of power and inequality across different Higher Educational contexts, while considering the politics of mis/recognition at play in possibilities for widening participation (WP) policy and practice.

‘Higher Educational spaces are always sites of struggle in which shifting, complex, and discursively produced power relations are at play in the formation of gendered subjectivities and in the privileging of particular epistemological and ontological perspectives and frameworks,’ she said.

Burke believes that meritocratic discourses have largely shaped policy discourses of widening Higher Educational access and participation and the notion of an openness of the university to all who have the potential and ability to participate. She further explored issues of the right to Higher Education beyond neoliberal and meritocratic discourses of WP.

‘Gendered and classed subjectivities, as well as institutional status and location, have an important impact on the politics of representation of WP within Institutions of Higher Education. It is crucial to bring together critical theory, lived experience, and transformative practice. WP is a contested terrain of struggle over gendered positioning, representation, voice and authority as well as material resources,’ she said.

Burke acknowledged the passionate commitment of many of those who continue to work in the name of WP within and across Higher Education Institutions.  She also lauded their dedication to fight for more equitable, inclusive and ethical Higher Education spaces and practices, drawing on the insights of critical and feminist theoretical perspectives to support their work.

‘The right to Higher Education requires multiple strategies including the redistribution of privileged resources and opportunities, reflexive attention to the politics of recognition and gendered subjective construction, and praxis that draws together the insights of critical, feminist and post-structural theories with embedded, transformative and participatory practices in Higher Education.’


author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Staff and Students in Youth Celebration

UKZN Staff and Students in Youth Celebration
UKZN staff and students together with uTshani Fund NGO and the Isulabantu Project at a youth celebration in KwaMashu.

Staff and students at the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (SoBEDS) took part in a youth celebration at the Methodist Church in KwaMashu, Durban.

The celebration stemmed from a collaborative project called Isulabantu - an informal settlements upgrade undertaking led by the community - which the School is running in collaboration with the School of Engineering, and the University of Westminster and the University Central London in England.

Dr Claudia Loggia is the Principal Investigator for the South African team and Dr M Christina Georgiadou is her English counterpart.

This interdisciplinary project aims to co-produce sustainable and integrated approaches for community-led upgrading. It explores construction, environmental management and urban governance in slum upgrading processes in the Durban Metropolitan area.

Said Loggia: ‘Our involvement in the celebration was a good, informal opportunity to show our commitment as academics and also our interest in collaborating with the community for upgrading informal settlements. This feeds into the overarching aim of the Isulabantu Project.

‘Through the uTshani Fund NGO, we also mentored the youth and provided them with information about the various UKZN programmes, financial support available, what the School of Built Environment and Development Studies offers and career options,’ she said.

The UKZN delegation included Mrs Judith Ojo-Aromokudu, Professor Oliver Mtapuri, Professor Matthew Dayomi, Dr Sithembiso Myeni, Mr Vincent Myeni, Mrs Slindo Shamase, and Masters Students in Housing, Mr Ronald Ncube and Mr Njabulo Zungu.

‘It was an inspiring day and very productive in terms of community engagement,’ said Loggia.


author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

Nursing Discipline Celebrates 60th Anniversary with Conference and Dinner

Nursing Discipline Celebrates 60th Anniversary with Conference and Dinner
UKZN Nursing Discipline Staff.

UKZN’s Nursing Discipline celebrated its 60th anniversary with a Conference - titled: “Innovative Strategies to Advance Nursing Leadership” - followed by a gala dinner.

The Conference at the Elangeni Hotel on Durban’s beachfront which attracted about 150 delegates, aimed to stimulate a critical reflection on achievements in terms of developing nurse leaders and the limitations of initiatives in that area.

The goal was also to stimulate a dialogue to develop nurse leaders who are responsive to the needs of the profession and population.

Leader of the organising committee,  Professor Ntombi Mtshali, said: ‘The Conference was organised to recognise the significant contribution the Nursing Discipline has made over the years in developing nursing and midwifery leaders locally, regionally and internationally.’ 

Speakers focused on case-studies of successes, challenges and best practices of innovative leadership strategies in the areas of: Nursing Education, Clinical Practice, Research and Leadership, and Management Strategies for the health care workforce.

Welcoming delegates, Nursing HoD, Professor Gugu Mchunu, said for nurses to be accepted at institutions of higher learning they needed to be excellent.

Quoting Damon Raskin, a gerontologist and anti-aging specialist, she said being 60 was a ‘time of major transition.  So as a Discipline we can choose to be sad and perish or be merry and embrace this transition and celebrate our achievements while also looking at ways to survive for another 60 years,’ Mchunu said.

Dean and Head of the School, Professor Busi Ncama, said: ‘A lot has been achieved by the Nursing Discipline in the past 60 years, however, the investment needs to be evident and documented,’ said Ncama. She outlined courses offered by the Discipline in partnership with the KZN Department of Health and the decentralised clinical training programme.

Guest speakers included nursing experts Dr N Makhanya, who presented on “Relevant and Responsive Nursing Leadership”; Professor Anita van der Merwe, who spoke on “Advancing Meaningful and Responsive Nursing Leadership – Concepts, Caveats and Catalysts”; Dr L Campbell and Professor P Brysiewicz,  who presented on “Transformative Education and Developing Leadership Skills”; Professor H Klopper on “Leadership in Nursing Research”; Mrs P Dladla on “Developing Nurses for Strategic Leadership in Health Systems Management”,  and Mrs L Mkize and Mrs N Isaacs on “Leadership in Nursing Practice: Changing Mental Health Care Outcomes, the Clinical Specialist Mental Health Nurse”.

Formerly known as the Department of Nursing, the Discipline introduced the Advanced Diploma in Nursing Education at the then University of Natal.

Mtshali said there were now almost 2 000 students doing undergraduate degrees and diploma programmes and about 150 students in postgraduate programmes - a long way since its first admission in 1962 of 10 students for the BSoc Sc Degree in Nursing.

Over the years the Discipline had earned a reputation, both nationally and internationally, for academic rigour and innovative leadership.   ‘The diverse and relevant suite of postgraduate programmes reflects the training needs of South Africa and indeed the African continent.’

In 1998 the Discipline received the accolade of being the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Centre (WHOCC) for Nursing and Midwifery Development in the African Region and was elevated into a position of continental leadership. This has been continually renewed up to date based on rigorous reviews. 


author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email : dlaminin10@ukzn.ac.za

Nurses Lauded at UKZN Dinner

Nurses Lauded at UKZN Dinner
UKZN dinner celebrating the Nursing Discipline’s 60th anniversary.

‘We need to celebrate excellence delivered by nurses,’ KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said at UKZN’s Nursing Discipline’s Gala dinner.

The event at the Elangeni Hotel in Durban was held to celebrate the Discipline’s 60 years of existence and the inauguration of the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) candidates.

‘I want you (UKZN) to continue to train specialised nurses and spread that to other parts of the country,’ said Dhlomo.

The MEC commended UKZN for its ophthalmic nurses training at McCord Hospital in Durban and also encouraged the Nursing Discipline to train palliative care nurses.

‘Nurses make a lasting difference where there are no doctors.’

The Executive Director of the College of Health Sciences, Professor Fannie Botha, welcomed guests at the function and congratulated the Discipline. ‘The College is proud of the Discipline. Our academics play an important role in motivating for diversity and our courses are an indication of our leadership in Africa.’

National Chief Nursing Officer Dr Nohlahla Makhanya spoke fondly of the late Professor Leanna Uys of UKZN’s Nursing Discipline and committed to fruitful nursing partnerships between the Discipline and the Department of Health.

Nursing HoD, Professor Gugu Mchunu, acknowledged previous heads of the Discipline, Professor L Lamont, Professor Thandi Gwele, Professor Oluyinka Adejumo and Professor Busisiwe Bhengu.

Recalling the Discipline’s history, Dean and Head of the School, Professor Busi Ncama, told guests how far the discipline had progressed, highlighting the achievements of recent years. 

‘A lot has been achieved by the Nursing Discipline in the past 60 years, however, the investment needs to be evident and documented,’ said Ncama.

‘As a Discipline we plan to develop scholarship that focuses on service delivery, support nurses in clinics through mentorships and also conduct research around health systems issues, such as demands created by HIV and AIDS, TB and comorbidities especially,’ said Ncama.

The dinner was followed by a two-day University Deans in South Africa (FUNDISA) meeting at the Medical School, attended by heads of schools from universities offering nursing qualifications in South Africa.

FUNDISA strives to be a unified platform to pursue excellence in nursing scholarship at South African universities.


author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email : dlaminin10@ukzn.ac.za

Umhlangano wokucobelelana ngolwazi wokuqala wabakwa-Aspen nabafundi bezoMthetho base-UKZN

Umhlangano wokucobelelana ngolwazi wokuqala wabakwa-Aspen nabafundi bezoMthetho base-UKZN
Abafundi base-UKZN bexhumana nabangabaqashi emhlanganweni wokucobelelana ngolwazi.

Click here for the English version

Abafundi abangamashumi amabili babambe iqhaza emhlanganweni wokucobelelana ngolwazi lwezomthetho wokuqala wabakwa-Aspen nabafundi bezomthetho base-UKZN lapho bekuhloswe ukuhlinzeka abafundi ngamava okusebenza ngaphakathi  kwenkampani enkulu emkhakheni wezomthetho wamazwengamazwe

Lolu hlelo olunsunkunhlanu obelwethulwa abakwa-Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited lubandakanye ukunikezwa kwabafundi isithombe esigcwele ngokusebenza komnyango wezomthetho uma welekelela ukusebenza kwebhizinisi kanye nezinhlobo zamakhono abameli adingekayo ukuze kwenziwe lo msebenzi.  

Obekufundwa kuhlanganise namakhono okwenza okuphathelene ngqo nomthetho njengokubhala izinkontileka, ukusingathwa kwamacala, ubunikazi bolwazi njll. Kanye namakhono alula njengokushiyana kwezizukulwane ezitholakala emsebenzini, ama-CV nokulungela inhlolokhono. 

 Uhlelo beluholwa uMnu Kurt Drieselmann  ophethe ezomthetho kanye nokugcinwa kwawo enkampanini i- Aspen Group nommeli omkhulu uNkz Evashni Govender, belekelelwa yiqembu labameli abayishumi abebethula izinkulumo futhi bexhumana nabafundi.

‘Esikubonile nesikuzwile ukuthi umhlangano wemukelwe kahle kakhulu futhi ube yithuba elihle kakhulu kubafundi,’ kusho Drieselmann. ‘I-Aspen iyalithakasela ithuba lokusebenzisana neSikole SezoMthetho sase-UKZN futhi sihlele ukuthi sikuphinde lokhu ngonyaka ozayo.’

Abafundi babambe iqhaza emkhankasweni i- Mandela Day wakwa-Aspen lapho belekelele ngokupakisha amaphakethe ezidlo angama-300 ezingane zase-Key of Hope Children’s Recreational Centre, okuyinhlangano exhaswe abakwa-Aspen njengohlelo lwayo lokusiza umphakathi.

Ephefumula ngalo msebenzi, oyiDini eyiNhloko yeSikole sezoMthetho uSolwazi Managay Reddi, uthe: ‘Ngithanda ukubongela abafundi abathole ithuba lokuba yingxenye yalolu hlelo lwabakwa-Aspen olusezingeni eliphezulu nokunikeza kwabo iSikole sethu leli thuba. Nginethemba lokuthi isazoqhubeka imisebenzi efana nale nabafundi bethu eminyakeni ezayo ngenxa yempumelelo yalo wakulonyaka.’


author : Thandiwe Jumo
author email : jumo@ukzn.ac.za

GSB&L Business Breakfast Celebrates Women in Leadership

GSB&L Business Breakfast Celebrates Women in Leadership
Business breakfast panellists and GSB&L academics.

Leadership development in the workplace, women leaders innovating the global space and women equality and the gender gap were some of the issues discussed at the recent Graduate School of Business and Leadership’s (GSB&L) Business Forum aimed at celebrating women in leadership.

The business breakfast meeting themed: “Celebrating Women in Leadership – Dynamic, Inspiring and Nurturing” saw academics, postgraduate students and members of the business sector being addressed by a panel of phenomenal women leaders comprising of Ms Rochna Kaul, Chevron South Africa’s General Manager of International Products; Dr Hope Magidimisha, a Lecturer at UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies and the first Black woman to be awarded a PhD in the Discipline of Town Planning as well as eThekwini Municipalities Head of Communications, Ms Tozie Mthethwa. The discussion was facilitated by Ms Mpume Langa, Regional Head of Absa Private Banking and Regional Chairperson of the Businesswomen’s Association.

With 22 years of working experience with 17 of them being outside of her home of India, Kaul boasts a wealth of experience in global leadership including being actively involved in the work of the California Leadership Forum for Women in leadership. Hence her presentation focused on how women can innovate themselves in their quest to become global leaders.

‘As the only woman leader in a team of 85 people I learnt early in my career that it is not about age or gender but it’s about adding value to my organisation,’ said Kaul.

‘As women we are unique and we need to celebrate that we bring different skills than men in the workplace. Globally speaking, the only way I have been able to occupy leadership positions all over the world is by understanding and adapt my leadership style to the culture of the environment. I don’t see myself as a woman in the workplace, just a problem solver who ensures that the company is successful.’

Magidimisha spoke on the importance of living your dreams by recounting her life experiences of how although her family and community did not understand her passion for town planning but it did not deter her from pursuing her dream.

‘During my research, I noted that most journal articles in the Town Planning Discipline are written by people from overseas and I decided that I will change this hence I now have an article published. As women we need to be innovative and provide solutions rather than complaining about the problems,’ she said.

Mthethwa spoke on the need for women driving the agenda for Durban especially since the city is about to be led by its first female mayor.

‘The city’s problems are not only the municipality’s problems and we need women to use their unique traits to move our city and families forward. As universities, business and government need women to come forward with innovative ideas to make our vision of a carrying and livable city a reality,’ she said.

In his address, GSB&L’s Dean and Head Professor Theuns Pelser challenged everyone to work together to contribute to leadership and development to ensure that women flourish in the workplace.


author : Thandiwe Jumo
author email : jumo@ukzn.ac.za

Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson - a UKZN Wonder Woman in Science

Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson - a UKZN Wonder Woman in Science
Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson, Wonder Women in Science candidate from the School of Life Sciences.

National Science Week is a country-wide initiative promoting careers in Science, Engineering and Technology for South African students while National Women’s Day commemorates the 1956 march of 20 000 women protesting against the country’s pass laws.

Both events - held during August - shed light on important issues including a skills shortage in Science, Engineering and Technology and the limited presence of women in these fields.

UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science is showcasing its support for the causes through a series of articles this month acknowledging its own Wonder Women in Science - all passionate, pioneering and persistent heroines who are ‘kicking ass’ in Science and stand as shining examples for all women.

Our second featured heroine is Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson, a Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology in the School of Life Sciences:

Dr Robertson-Andersson is warm and friendly, appearing rather shy and reserved until she talks about her work! She then transforms into a passionate scientist/conservationist whose enthusiasm makes one want to join her and jump into action to save a mollusc (with an unpronounceable name) or stop plastic pollution in our oceans!

Her passion started at a young age when during holidays both her grandfathers would try to get her interested in their shell and rock collections. But it was Marine Biology that ultimately grabbed Robertson-Andersson’s total interest evidenced by her – at the age of 8 – cleaning the outside of boat hulls to get out of tidying her room!

She wanted to learn about the things she was picking off the boats and her fascination with all things marine never stopped growing.

Robertson-Andersson, who earned her PhD in 2007, has won awards at international conferences, sailed on the Bark Europa from Cape Town to St Helena, and even tried out for the South African Olympic judo team.

She was the first qualified integrated multitrophic aquaculturist in the country. Her five-year-old daughter puts it very plainly: ‘My mommy grows seaweed in abalone pooh, to feed to bacteria, to make them pass wind, and for fun she gets jellyfish to mate.’ 

After joining the School of Life Sciences in 2013, she and a colleague, Mr Gan Moodley, set up the Marine Biology, Aquaculture, Conservation Education/Ecotoxicology Laboratory or MACE Lab where research is conducted into the effects of microplastic on marine life off Durban.

They now run several community initiatives including beach clean ups at Vetch’s Pier and a plastic pollution clean-up drive called Booms, Bins and Bags. MACE Lab have regular slots on Radio Hindvani, Lotus FM and Radio Al Ansaar; have been featured on the SABC-TV programme 50/ 50, and will soon appear on M-Net’s Carte Blanche show.

Robertson-Andersson says being a woman Marine Biologist has its challenges. ‘My work requires some heavy lifting with the resulting aches and pains not always cured by a soak in a hot bath.’ Aquaculture is also very male dominated, so it took her a long time to prove that she was capable and become well respected in the field.  

Science in Africa is not just about pushing buttons, it requires tenacity which is why she teaches her students that like farmers they need to ‘make a plan’. 

She feels it’s important for more women to become involved in Science because they think differently and offer a different perspective. ‘We don’t need to replace men in science, we need to work together. We have different strengths and focuses so by working together we can create a better result for all.’

She has the same open-mindedness about Science education in South Africa. ‘We need to train scientists to have business, political and social savvy, and take the knowledge they generate in books and translate that into a form applicable to the wider community.’

Her advice to budding scientists is simple and practical: ‘When life gives you lemons you make lemonade. You can accept the sour truth or make things like lemon meringue, lemonade and lemon cheesecake to sweeten the taste.’

As a UKZN Lecturer, Robertson-Andersson’s job is to inspire greatness among her students. She believes by being the best version of herself she can inspire a passion for marine science within her students – especially when they are too hard on themselves.

What’s next for this Wonder Woman in Science? She wants to visit Antarctica as it’s the only continent that she has not visited for her work (for free), and she wants to see some snow too.

We asked her to create a ‘super hero profile’ for herself through answering several questions:

What would your super power be and why?        

       I already have one, I’m a WOMAN! This allows me to be a mom, doctor, nurse, researcher, lecturer, teacher and so on. Eat your heart out Wonder Woman!

What would your theme song be?

I Lived by One Republic because of the line: ‘With every broken bone I swear I lived’. Mine totals 40!

Who would be your sidekicks and why?   

       My colleague Mr Gan Moodley (not by his choice) because of all of the science adventures I’ve roped him into.

Where would your secret lair/hide-out be?          

      Somewhere under the ocean because it covers more than 70% of the earth’s surface and would be difficult to find.

Describe your happy place.               

       Sailing on a tall ship in the middle of the Atlantic with all sails set and in the trade winds, plus a sunset on the horizon, dolphins in the bow waves and sperm whales visible from the yard arms. 

* Each week in August, the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science will present an article on a Wonder Women in Science story that will hopefully inspire others to be ‘superheroes’.

Find all the Wonder Women in Science articles here

MACE Lab Social links:

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Slide share


author : Sashlin Girraj
author email : girraj@ukzn.ac.za

Lecturer Receives Best Poster Prize at International Rangeland Congress

Lecturer Receives Best Poster Prize at International Rangeland Congress
Ms Sindiso Chamane with her award-winning poster at the Rangeland Conference in Canada.

Lecturer in the School of Life Sciences, Ms Sindiso Chamane, won the best poster award at the International Rangeland Congress (IRC) held in Saskatoon, Canada, for her entry based on her PhD research.

Chamane, who is being supervised by Professor Kevin Kirkman, Mr Craig Morris and Professor Tim O’Connor, completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at UKZN while her Masters in Grassland Science was a collaborative project with Yale University in the United States.

Chamane’s research - on the effects of short duration, high intensity grazing management on grasslands - has been conducted on an experimental design at Ukulinga Research Farm and Wakefield Farm in Cedarville in the Eastern Cape, on a fence-line contrast on two farms in Kokstad, and at the Michaelhouse Nature Reserve.

Her poster at the IRC was focused on the fence-line study which demonstrates the contrasting use by two neighbouring farmers of high density grazing (HDG) with zero burning and a low density grazing (LDG) with a burning frequency of two to four years. The farmers have been using these management practices for 20 years.

Chamane focused her study on a mesic habitat in what is emerging as a baseline study of contrasting management styles in KwaZulu-Natal, as not many researchers have investigated this.

‘HDG is being recommended as a management style, but there’s concern at the lack of scientific evidence behind it,’ said Chamane. ‘By concentrating grazing animals into camps, HDG is purported to reduce selective grazing, make space for seedling reproduction, break the soil crust to increase soil infiltration and reduce erosion, increase nutrients, improve plant diversity, and preserve moisture.’

Chamane examined species composition and soils, discovering that in a mesic system the LDG site actually had better forage species diversity and good variation of forbs, and that there was no difference in soil nutrient composition. HDG sites also showed increased presence of alien species and a dominance of species that can withstand heavy grazing.

The poster generated considerable attention, with these management systems highly contested among grassland and animal scientists and researchers. There was interest from academics in Australia and Argentina in particular, where similar issues are faced, and many were keen to see her research published.

Winning the best poster award enables Chamane to attend the Australian Rangeland Society’s Biennial Conference in Australia in 2017.


author : Christine Cuénod
author email : cuenod@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Academics attend Dynamic Systems Conference in the US

UKZN Academics attend Dynamic Systems Conference in the US
Dr Sudan Hansraj (left) and Professor Sunil Maharaj.

Academics from UKZN’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science attended the American Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) International Conference on Dynamical Systems, in Orlando in the United States.

The academics contributed presentations on the applications of differential equations in various areas of science. 

NRF SARChI Chair in Gravitating Systems and Director of the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU), Professor Sunil Maharaj, spoke on: “Relativistic Stars and Symmetries”, while the Academic Leader for Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, Dr Sudan Hansraj, gave a talk titled: “Differential Equations in the Lovelock Modified Gravity Theory”.

UKZN’s differential equations expert and outgoing Dean and Head of School, Professor Kesh Govinder, delivered a presentation on: “Interconnectedness of Group Theory and Dynamical Systems Analysis”. 

The AIMS Conference consisted of 122 different themes in more than 20 parallel sessions, involving several thousand delegates. Academics were exposed to a wide range of topical problem areas and a number of collaborations were initiated with colleagues attending from all over the world.


author : UKZNDabaOnline
author email : hansrajs@ukzn.ac.za

Medical Student Composes Poem in Honour of Women

Medical Student Composes Poem in Honour of Women
Siyabonga Sibusiso Shongwe.

2nd year UKZN Medical student, Siyabonga Sibusiso Shongwe, composed a poem in honour of women during ZAZI (Know your strength) that was held at the Medical School on 05 August 2016.

Shongwe writes as a prelude:

This one goes to my Zazi ladies.
Blessed from the heavens and not from a wallet.
Those who stay up till late to get information,
Those who follow their dreams on twitter.
Picture their life on Instagram.
Those who aren’t defined by the number of likes they have on Facebook,
But get rewarded by sticking their faces in a book,
While they ‘work’ their way to the top.
The Zazi ladies who know their worth and turn black to green to symbolise wisdom.

Asante Sana Mama…

Bathi wathinta abafazi wathinta Imbokodo.
Indlovukazi engasoze yasindwa umboko wayo.
Besingaba yini ngaphandle kwenu kodwa?
Aww kodwa!

I salute all women.
To show the magnitude of my gratitude,
I’ll forever raise my hands and chant salute!
But for now A Luta continua!

So much for the struggle back then.
Our biggest sin was being born Black to them.
They gave us bullets instead of bread,
Hence they never knew mama had a plan.
To reign supreme against the captivity of the ‘dompass’.
Just for that they left their kitchens and made their way
to those constitutional fields to plant those seeds of freedom,
To get rid of those weeds of mediocrity and for us to grow
fruitfully and have a right. Now to get everything right.
They had to let those memories pass, all they wanted
was a bright future at sight. Asante Sana Mama…

Mama you believed in my dreams.
Fought for my education though you could never read.
Taught me love though the world was full of greed.
You’ve always put my happiness before your needs
because a better man is what you’ve always wanted me to be.
One which my father could’ve never been.
If these four walls could say what they’ve seen.
How we men think we show love to our wives when we make them bleed
and plead for peace while repeatedly with our boots beat after beat … as she stands in front of her mirror with marks on her eyes coloured blue from abuse,
as she gets nothing as much as an excuse which is always blamed on booze.
Even a blinded fool can see that my mama’s been a victim of abuse,
though I have no clue how mama’s always managed to pull through!
But Asante Sana Mama…


author : Siyabonga Sibusiso Shongwe
author email : 215034222@stu.ukzn.ac.za

UKZN InQubate helps Budding Entrepreneurs STEPUP!

UKZN InQubate helps Budding Entrepreneurs STEPUP!
Ms Zuzana Kolesarova and Dr Rudi Kimmie discussing UKZN InQubate’s STEPUP programme with budding entrepreneurial students at the Pietermaritzburg, Howard College and Westville campuses Career Fairs.

The future is young, sassy, streetwise and hungry for student entrepreneurs!

This was the overwhelming impression at the recent Career Fairs held on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg, Westville and Howard College campuses, which attracted hundreds of prospective employees, budding entrepreneurs and emerging business leaders who visited the University.

The events were ideal opportunities for UKZN’s InQubate Office to roll out its Student Entrepreneurship and Upliftment Project (STEPUP) and present its brand and activities to the student entrepreneur market.

Judging from the enthusiastic responses, entrepreneurship is the new reality and will become the chief catalyst to kickstart South Africa’s economic growth if the significant, but latent talents of students are leveraged. 

Students recognise the difficulties of finding employment and are keen to get skills and guidance to venture into entrepreneurship as a means of providing employment for themselves and others.

 Interaction at the Fairs revealed that relatively large numbers of young entrepreneurs are already involved in commercial activities on or off campus.

* UKZN InQubate, through its skills development programme - STEPUP - and its networking activities such as the ‘Mind to Market’ initiative, is making a concerted effort to promote entrepreneurship as a viable and essential offering at UKZN. By contributing towards an enabling environment and partnering with skilled business practitioners and entrepreneurs, InQubate’s STEPUP aims to grow the next generation of business leaders who can positively impact South Africa’s social and economic development.


author : Suvina Singh
author email : Singhs3@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Study on Hormone Contraceptives and HIV Wins Award

UKZN Study on Hormone Contraceptives and HIV Wins Award
Dr Sinaye Ngcapu.

<p>A lecturer in the Department of Medical Microbiology in the College of Heath Sciences, Dr Sinaye Ngcapu, won an award at the recent International AIDS Conference in Durban for a paper he submitted.</p> <p>The paper was titled: &ldquo;Effect of Injectable Hormonal Contraceptives on Vaginal Epithelium Thickness and Genital HIV Target Cell Density in Women Recently Infected with HIV&rdquo;.</p> <p>It was chosen as the winning abstract from among over 6 700 papers submitted to the AIDS conference through&nbsp; a committee of representatives from UNAIDS, the International Community of Women Living with HIV, the International Research Centre for Women, and the International AIDS Society.&nbsp;</p> <p>News of Ngcapu&rsquo;s success was carried in both <em>The Mercury</em> and <em>Cape Times</em> newspapers.</p> <p>The study, completed in three years, focuses on the influence of the use of injectable hormone contraceptives on the risk of HIV infection in the context of the heterosexual epidemic in South Africa, and the potentially confounding effect of DMPA, also known as Depo-Provera.</p> <p>Said Ngcapu: &lsquo;I have never had the luxury of being a full time student as I need to work to support myself through my studies.&nbsp; Despite this, I have consistently aimed for excellence.&rsquo;</p> <p>Ngcapu, who expressed how grateful, humbled and honoured he was to have received the award, said he would continue with his research &lsquo;asking what the role of the vaginal bacteria is and how it impacts on HIV acquisition&rsquo;. He said various practices, such as washing the vagina with soap, could contribute towards an imbalance. &lsquo;You need certain bacteria to keep the vagina healthy.&rsquo;</p>


author : Sinenhlanhla Ngubane
author email : ngubanes2@ukzn.ac.za