The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) hosted its Postgraduate Research Day on the Pietermaritzburg campus.
Masters and PhD students submitted abstracts which were reviewed by an academic committee comprising experts from the relevant fields. The committee was chaired by Dr Shahidul Islam of the School of Life Sciences.
Sixty oral and 79 poster presentations were selected from those submitted.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College, Professor Deo Jaganyi, opened the day welcoming students, academics, exhibitors and judges, and he also thanked all participants and contributing funders. The main funder for the event was the National Research Foundation (NRF).
NRF’s Dr Aldo Stroebel said: ‘The development of the next generation of researchers is a high priority for the NRF, and we support the innovative approach that CAES is taking to create opportunities for its outstanding postgraduate students.’
The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) sponsored awards for the top two Engineering projects which were presented by its Vice-President and Umgeni Water CEO, Mr Cyril Gamede. ‘I was impressed by the calibre of research on display,’ said Gamede.
ECSA Public Relations Officer, Mr Thalukanyo Nangammbi, said: ‘Students were really excited. They see this event as a very big part of their studies. One could see from their faces and the cheers that it is a big thing. I am happy to have represented ECSA and encourage students to register once they finish their studies. I met a few students who were very excited to get information. I think it is important for ECSA to play a more active role with UKZN students.’
Other external funders included eThekwini Municipality, Umgeni Water, 2Cana, AEC-Amersham Soc Ltd, Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Armscor, Celtic Molecular Diagnostics, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Eskom, Unilever, Inquaba Biotechnical Industry, Mahle, Invotech, MCL, Mintek, NPC Cimpor, Transnet, Whitehead Scientific (Pty) Ltd, the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) and the Water Research Commission (WRC).
The Postgraduate Research Day was also supported by various UKZN departments including the Research Office and the five Schools within CAES. In addition there was generous support from the Pollution Research Group; Dean and Head of the School of Life Sciences, Professor Samson Mutakawira; the African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI), and the Centre for Quantum Research.
The judging panel comprised experts drawn from the ranks of UKZN academics as well as external participants from Eskom, Transnet and Umgeni Water, and other research institutions.
Government Relations Manager at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Mr Thabiso Walter Mudau, said: ‘The students were superb with regards to time management during presentations which were rich with relevant information. All in all the event was well organised and everything was good. I really enjoyed the occasion.’
Transnet Chief Engineer, Mr Sabelo Mzimela said: ‘Being a judge gave me the opportunity to network with some bright sparks and to have a look at very interesting research projects.’
Winners of the various sessions were as follows:
Session 1: First prize: Ms Sandipa Bhihraj, supervised by Dr Mathew Akerman and Professor Orde Munro; Second prize: Ms Humaira Bassa supervised by Professor Thomas Konrad.
Session 2: First prize: Ms Keeveshnee Govender, supervised by Professor Steve Johnson; Second prize: Mr Chika Chukuma, supervised by Dr Shahidul Islam.
Session 3: Engineering Council of South Africa Award: First prize: Mr Mohammed Fayaz Khan, supervised by Dr Leigh Jarvis; Second prize: Mr Sanjeeth Sewchurran, supervised by Dr Innocent Davidson.
Session 4: First prize: Ms Mary Ranketse, supervised by Mr Edgar Dzomba; Second prize: Mr Benjamin Chapeyama, supervised by Professor Edilegnaw Wale and Dr Alfred Odindo.
Session 5: First prize: Ms Sinenhlanhla Sikosana, supervised by Professor Kavi Moodley; Second prize: Ms Heather Prince, supervised by Professor Kavi Moodley.
LES stream: First prize: Mr Nkosinathi Kaptein, supervised by Professor Michael Savage; Second prize: Ms Tamanna Patel; supervised by Dr Adrian Schrader.
M Stream: First prize: Mr Ebrahim Kadwa, supervised by Professor Muhammad Bala and Professor Holger Friedrich, Second prize: Mr Denisha Gounden, supervised by Dr Nolwazi Nombona; Third prize: Mr Alexander Alochukwa, supervised by Professor Remi Adewumi.
Special prize sponsored by InQubate for the project with best commercialization potential:
Mr Mathew Habyrarimana, supervised by Dr C Vengopal.
2Cana – an award winning information technology company specialising in providing tailored database solutions for Blue Chip clients – sponsored three lucky draws for a book safe, a power bank and a memory stick. These were won by Mr Siyabonga Ndlela, Mr Tonderai Mombeshora and Ms Saba Alapour.
Words: Leena Rajpal