Distinguished Student Nominee Hooked on ScienceGeneral

Ms Carrie Jacobs in the laboratory.Ms Carrie Jacobs in the laboratory.

Masters candidate in the School of Life Sciences, Ms Carrie Jacobs, has been nominated for UKZN’s prestigious Distinguished Student’s Award.

It is a unique award that considers nominations - from staff and students - of students who have made outstanding academic achievements as well as excelling in community engagement or University service.

Jacobs, who graduated with both her Bachelor of Medical Science and Bachelor of Science Honours degrees summa cum laude, is now pursuing her Masters in Microbiology, investigating the quorum-sensing inhibitory and anti-HIV potential of indigenous South African sponge-associated bacterial extracts.

Supervised by Dr Hafizah Cheniah, this research is suited to Jacobs’s interest in disease control, and her belief that the hunt for new and alternative treatment options should be at the forefront of bacterial and HIV research, especially given the current antimicrobial-resistance crisis.

Born in Gauteng, Jacobs has lived in Durban since the age of 8, attending Brettonwood High School in Umbilo where she was Head Girl, Dux, captain of the debate team and a member of the KZN Model United Nations debate team. She is the only pupil in the history of the school to be awarded honours twice.

Jacobs chose UKZN for tertiary studies because of its high research output and the reputation of the Microbiology Discipline as one of the best in the country.

At UKZN, Jacobs has received a slew of awards, including the Inqaba Biotech Award for the top Microbiology Honours Student of 2015, the Merck Award for top graduating Microbiology student 2014, as well as external awards such as the National Biennial South African Society for Microbiology (SASM) Conference 2016 award for the best Honours presentation; an award for the best Honours Presentation at the Provincial SASM conference 2015, and the 2014 annual Unilever Research and Development award.

She has been a member of the Golden Key Honour Society since 2013, and received Dean’s Commendations for every semester of her studies, in addition to her total of 17 merit certificates.

‘I consider this nomination momentous, and easily my greatest achievement,’ said Jacobs. ‘It’s a significant acknowledgement of the effort I have put into my studies. I have always tried to give my best, and to be acknowledged for this by an institution such as UKZN makes all the work put in well worthwhile.’

Once her Masters is complete, Jacobs aims to continue to PhD studies in the field of disease control at UKZN, where there is focus on anti-quorum sensing molecules derived from natural products.

After her PhD, Jacobs wants to do postdoctoral research and hopefully work with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examining the spread of disease, alternative treatment options and their effect when compared to currently used medicines.

Christine Cuénod