Postgraduate Research &
Innovation Symposium (PRIS)

Msunduzi River lubricant oil spillage by mutagenised indigenous microalgae Scenedesmus vacuolatus

Doctoral candidate, Stella Eregie looks forwards to participating in the Postgraduate Research and Innovation Symposium (PRIS 2021).

Eregie, who has participated in previous PRIS conferences, signed up for PRIS 2021 so as to gain exposure to the local and international scientific community and experience their valuable critique and positive feedback. She hopes to  broaden her research thinking and knowledge, practice her presentation skills, and develop the expertise needed to discuss her research in a clear and meaningful manner. She views PRIS as a platform that will also enable her to collaborate with other researchers in similar fields.

Eregie became aware of the negative effects of oil contaminants on various ecosystems (sea, land and underground water) and the need for a cost-effective treatment and removal methods for these pollutants across a wide range of industrial applications. She explained:  ‘In this era of rapid industrial and agricultural development, large quantities of lubricant oil wastes are generated causing pollution of the environment. The effect of these pollutants endanger humans, plants and animals.’

It was for this reason that Eregie studied the use of microalgae as an innovative treatment approach. Microalgae play a crucial role in the ecosystem, especially with regard to the removal of contaminants and other hazardous chemicals such as waste lubricant oil.

Her research is in the area of biodegradation (bioremediation) of industrial processed lubricant oil wastes; environmental lubricant oil spill waste; and the isolation and characterisation of indigenous microorganisms native to oil wastes, specialising in microbial biotechnology/environmental microbiology.

Eregie’s research study makes use of the microalgae-based treatment technology as a bioindicator of oil waste pollutant remediation, to evaluate and analyse the toxicity of oil pollutants that could result, and to control and combat environmental pollution problems.  This natural, cheap, safe, efficient and environmentally friendly method to combat oil waste pollution and create a healthier environment is a recent research success of Eregie.

Eregie enjoys being a researcher: ‘I am naturally curious and eager to discover new things. I am passionate about research because it is the process of discovery.’

She believes that research develops her skills while attaining knowledge. It is also an opportunity for her to do the things she loves most: reading, writing and learning about new topics.  She has publications in internationally recognised, peer-reviewed, professional Department of Higher Education and Training accredited journals, with her work being published in the Journal of Bioremediation and the International Journal of Environmental and Analytical Chemistry. These journals are rated highly in the biodegradation and bioremediation research field and have a high impact factor.

Words: Samantha Ngcongo