Postgraduate Research &
Innovation Symposium (PRIS)

Industry, Arts and Innovation Unite for Postgraduate Research Day

The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) at UKZN hosted its seventh annual Postgraduate Research and Innovation Day on the Westville campus attracting more than 700 participants including presenters, exhibitors, judges, academics, students and guests.

Sixty-five percent of those in attendance were students – a new record for the CAES.

The bumper programme included an Arts Meets Sciences exhibit, a competition featuring creations inspired by Science, and an InQubate-hosted Innovation Stream event to inspire students to aim for innovation beyond academia.

‘This event highlights cutting-edge research conducted by postgraduate students and provides them with an opportunity to present their work to their peers, academic staff and research partners,’ said CAES Dean of Research, Professor Kevin Kirkman.

Kirkman thanked the postgraduate students who showed the courage and enthusiasm to present their work. He emphasised UKZN’s mission to ensure its postgraduate research was relevant to society and contributed to the wellbeing of South Africa.

Chair of the organising committee Professor Thomas Konrad welcomed everyone to a day of celebrating research, reminding them Nobel Prizes have been awarded for masters and PhD research.

UKZN’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, gave a special welcome to stakeholder partners, thanking them for their support. He encouraged a focus on producing impactful, quality research that is translated into innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities.

‘It is the postgraduate students that are the engines driving research at this institution,’ said Ramjugernath.

Mrs Suvina Singh also introduced InQubate’s work while CAES students delivered 60 platform presentations and 120 poster presentations during the day.

Agricultural, financial, publishing, retail, scientific services and consultancy sectors were represented as well as several national agencies and entities. UKZN research centres and offices also took part.

‘The experience allowed me to see various opportunities in aligning research projects with current actual challenges being experienced in industry,’ said Mr Sabelo Mzimela of Transnet.

The event was co-ordinated by UKZN’s School of Chemistry and Physics in conjunction with Mrs Leena Rajpal from the College’s Public Relations Office. The smooth running of the event received very positive feedback.

Judges for the student prizes were from each of the five Schools in the College and external companies.

The University of the Witwatersrand’s Professor Andrew Forbes, a UKZN alumnus, delivered a keynote address featuring the stories of Nobel Prize winners Shuji Nakamura and Robert C Richardson.

Forbes reminded students that routes to success may vary but encouraged them not to follow the crowd, to be brave about their work, and find the essential ingredient for their success.

‘Often it’s on those unbeaten paths that you make the greatest difference,’ he said.

Sponsored prizes* valued at R220 000 were awarded at the end of the day by Kirkman, Professor Ademola Olaniran and Professor Ross Robinson. The University’s Information and Communications Services (ICS) and 2Cana sponsored prizes for the lucky draw.

Organisers also acknowledged the indispensable assistance of more than 20 internal partners.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Albert Hirasen


* The following prizes were awarded:


School of Chemistry and Physics

PhD: Tabitha Amollo

Masters: Mxolisi Majola


School of Life Sciences

PhD: Murtala Bindawa Isah

Masters: Carrie Jacobs


School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science

PhD: Chukwuka Monyei

Masters: Nothando Dhlamini


School of Engineering, Engineering Council of South Africa Award: 

PhD: Rasoul Hassanalizadeh

Masters: Sarah Garber


School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Award:

PhD: Olaoluwa Olarewaju

Masters: Jean Pierre Havugimana



School of Chemistry and Physics

PhD: Vashen Moodley

Masters: Vishalan Pillay


School of Life Sciences

PhD: Faiaz Shaik Abdool

Masters: Jeff Ojwach


School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science

PhD: Chinedu Izuchukwu

Masters: No award


School of Engineering, Engineering Council of South Africa Award

PhD: Arghavan Keivani

Masters: Obert Mupomoki

Masters: Khethizwe Sukati


School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences sponsored by KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

PhD: Thabo Makhubedu

Masters: Nqobile Nkomo