Wednesday, 28 February 2007 | Volume 1, Issue #1
In This Issue
   
PROMINENT UKZN ACADEMICS APPOINTED TO SOUTH AFRICAN RESEARCH CHAIRS
VICE-CHANCELLOR'S RESEARCH AWARD
VICE-CHANCELLOR ADDRESSES INTERNATIONAL IMMUNOLOGY CONFERENCE
CROP SCIENTIST SCOOPS AWARDS
DISTINGUISHED TEACHERS’ AWARDS: 2006
UKZN SCIENTIST ELECTED TO PRESTIGIOUS BODY
UKZN FELLOWSHIPS FOR EMINENT PROFESSORS
FOGARTY REUNION
CENTRE FOR QUANTUM TECHNOLOGY
PARENTS’ DAY
NIH APPOINTMENT
SARETI MAKES AN IMPACT
SADC CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR AFRICAN CENTRE FOR FOOD SECURITY
NEW CALS DIRECTOR
UKZN HOSTS NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE
WORKSHOP ON CIRCUMCISION FOR HIV PREVENTION
CERTIFICATES IN ISLAMIC LAW
DEDICATION CEREMONY
DANCING TO SCOTLAND
SCIENCE PRIZE
VISITING FULLBRIGHT SCHOLAR
DR COHEN OF UNC AND CHAVI CLINICAL CORE VISITS CAPRISA
THE WRITING PLACE
   

 

 

PRODUCED BY:

Public Affairs and Corporate Communication

EDITED BY:

Professor Dasarath Chetty & Smita Maharaj

HOW TO SUBMIT AN ARTICLE:

Please submit newsworthy articles to : online@ukzn.ac.za

WHERE TO FIND THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE:
The full version of selected articles will be published in the UKZNdaba
ENQUIRIES
Sunayna Ratibar
Extension : # 4249
© COPYRIGHT
All information © 2007 University of KwaZulu-Natal. All rights reserved.

 

 
PROMINENT UKZN ACADEMICS APPOINTED TO SOUTH AFRICAN RESEARCH CHAIRS  

 

Prominent academics and researchers, Professor Sunil Maharaj from the School of Mathematical Sciences, Westville Campus and Professor Steve Johnson from the School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, Pietermaritzburg Campus have been awarded the South African Research Chairs for a five year period valued at R12.5m and R7.5m respectively. Professor Maharaj, Director of the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit in the School of Mathematical Sciences is the recipient of the Chair in Gravitating Systems. His primary research areas involve modeling of astrophysical processes in stars and the mathematics of large scale dynamics in cosmology.

Professor Johnson of the School of Biological and Conservation Sciences was awarded the Chair in Evolutionary Biology. His research is in the field of evolutionary biology and is focused on plant-pollinator interactions.

The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) was recently launched by the National Research Foundation and the Department of Science and Technology. The purpose of this award is to increase the number of world class researchers in South Africa, and to make the country competitive in the international knowledge economy based on its existing and potential strengths. UKZN is the second largest producer of published research by a South African higher education institution.

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VICE-CHANCELLOR’S RESEARCH AWARD FOR PROFESSOR IN HIV MEDICINE  

 

Molecular virologist, Professor Thumbi Ndung’u of the DDMRI, has been awarded the prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award by Council for exceptional research and research related scholarly activities. His previous significant research accomplishments include: the development of the first full-length infectious clone of HIV-1C from Africa, a very important reagent for detailed genetic studies of this strain. This genetic tool allows for various studies on drug sensitivity and vaccine design to be conducted; and the generation of a subtype C human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV), the first HIV-1 subtype C based SHIV that has been used extensively for HIV-1B to study the disease process of HIV by using rhesus monkey models and to conduct HIV vaccine tests. A Harvard graduate, Professor Ndung’u’s main areas of research are in the biological mechanisms underlying HIV/AIDS pathogenesis and in the development of biomedical interventions that can be used in resource poor settings to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

At UKZN, Prof Ndung’u has initiated a research program on human genetic factors that influence susceptibility to HIV infection and disease progression.

 

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VICE-CHANCELLOR ADDRESSES INTERNATIONAL IMMUNOLOGY CONFERENCE  

 

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, was invited to deliver the plenary address at the Annual Conference of the British Society for Immunology held in Glasgow from 18 to 22 February. His paper was titled: the Challenges of Infectious Diseases in the Developing World.

The conference, attended by 1000 delegates, coincided with the 50th Anniversary of the British Society. UKZN featured prominently in the first plenary session which provided an opportunity to highlight the cutting-edge research work undertaken in the areas of HIV and TB.

Professor Makgoba who is a respected immunologist, said that the major challenge facing the health sector was the re-emergence of infectious diseases epidemics specifically in the developing world, such as HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria, SARS and more recently Bird Flu. “Any scientific advances that assist us to understand these epidemics also assist people of the developing world on how to intervene in relation to these epidemics” he said. “It was pleasant and refreshing to go back after 25 years and interact with my peers in the same field covering several generations and reflecting on British contributions to this field of which I was part of,” said Professor Makgoba.

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CROP SCIENTIST SCOOPS AWARDS  

 

Dr Albert Modi, renowned for his work with the Ezemvelo Farmer’s Association in producing and marketing indigenous crops to Woolworths, made history at the Combined Congress of the South African Society of Crop Production (SASCP), the Soil Science Society of South Africa and the South African Society of Horticultural Sciences. He won the prize for the best oral presentation for a person under 40 years old and the overall prize for the best poster presentation. Dr Modi was also elected the first black president of the SASCP, which provides leadership in crop science to promote training, research and development.

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DISTINGUISHED TEACHERS’ AWARDS: 2006  

 

Distinguished Teachers' Awards for 2006 are being made to the following four nominees in recognition of their distinguished contributions to the teaching and learning process at the University of KwaZulu-Natal: Dr Trevor Hill, Environment Sciences, Dr Delia North, Statistics and Actuarial Science, Ms Sally Hobden, Science, Mathematics & Technology Education and Professor MM Green, Literary Studies, Media & Creative Arts.

The Selection Committee based its recommendations on Portfolios submitted by nominees. The Distinguished Teachers Awards recognise excellence in undergraduate and postgraduate education, in contact or distance modes, and in community service in the field of education, in terms of the following categories:

  • Curriculum or course development and design;
  • Teaching strategies or methods;
  • Assessment of student learning; and
  • Educational media and learning materials.

Our congratulations to the four awardees.

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UKZN SCIENTISTS ELECTED TO PRESTIGIOUS BODY  

 

South Africa’s official national Academy of Science, which prides itself on “promoting excellence in science for society” recently named its 18 newly elected members. Three scientists from UKZN feature among these top-ranked researchers: Professor Roseanne Diab, Professor Nithaya Chetty and Professor Norman Pammenter.

Professor Roseanne Diab, from the School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, is an atmospheric scientist whose major research thrust in recent years has been tropospheric ozone. Professor Nithaya Chetty specialises in the field of theoretical and computational solid state physics and Professor Norman Pammenter, who is Professor Emeritus in the School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, has research interests in plant ecophysiology and the biology of desiccation-sensitive (recalcitrant) seeds.

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UKZN FELLOWSHIPS FOR EMINENT PROFESSORS  

 

Leading scientist, Professor Anna Coutsoudis of the department of Paediatrics and Child Health and prolific author Professor Duncan Brown of the School of Literary Studies, Media and Creative Arts have been admitted to the Society of Fellows at UKZN for distinguished achievement in their disciplines. This has earned them international recognition.

Professor Brown, Professor of English studies, is a B-rated NRF researcher and the recipient of numerous awards. These include: the Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award, the Teaching Excellence Award and the University Book Prize for “Oral Literature and Performance in Southern Africa”. He is an invited Overseas Professorial Research Fellow at the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies at the Open University in the United Kingdom. His books include: Voicing the Text: Oral Poetry and Performance in South Africa, Oral Literature and Performance in Southern Africa and To Speak of this Land: Identity and Belonging in South Africa and Beyond.

Professor Coutsoudis has made a considerable impact on health in South Africa and abroad with respect to her groundbreaking work on vitamin A and mother-to-child transmission of HIV through breastfeeding. Her studies on the benefits of vitamin A have resulted in all children at public facilities being routinely given supplements of the vitamin. La Leche International honoured her for outstanding studies on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. Articles in over 76 peer reviewed journals include: "The Relationship Between Vitamin A Status and Immune Function During Measles and Breastfeeding In Women With HIV".

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FOGARTY REUNION  

 

On 1 February, HIV and Tuberculosis researchers gathered to celebrate the reunion of the Columbia University-Southern Africa Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Programme organized by Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Programme Director.

The theme, building sustainable HIV and Tuberculosis Research capacity, offered researchers an opportunity to explore on lessons learnt in building HIV and tuberculosis science capacity. It was also an initiative to reflect on the current state of the tuberculosis and HIV epidemics and identify key research priorities, training and capacity building needs that may be required to sustain the ability to address these challenges. The key success of the Programme is a seamless continuum of training, research, and mentoring between the US and South Africa, said Professor Abdool Karim.

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CENTRE FOR QUANTUM TECHNOLOGY  

 

UKZN’s Centre for Quantum Technology organized a Summer School sponsored by the National Institute for Theoretical Physics, on the theoretical foundations of quantum information processing and communication.

Eleven leading scientists from overseas introduced 40 local students to the latest developments in this exciting field. The Summer School was held in January at Salt Rock.

“We are currently in the midst of a second quantum revolution. The first quantum revolution at the beginning of the last century led to an understanding of the fundamental laws governing the physical properties of matter at the microscopic level,” says Professor Francisco Petruccione, an expert on Quantum Technology.

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PARENTS’ DAY  

 

UKZN hosted approximately 2 000 parents of first year students across five campuses on Parents’ Day, February 2007. Parents travelled from all corners of KwaZulu-Natal to attend the event, while others made the trip from other provinces.

Addressing parents on the Westville campus, Vice-Chancellor Professor Malegapuru Makgoba thanked parents for entrusting UKZN with the education and development of their children. He outlined the University’s vision of being the Premier University of African Scholarship, emphasising that it hopes to negate the past and build the future. He said that research productivity at the University has improved by 30% in the past three years, and the research budget has increased by 10%.

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NIH APPOINTMENT  

 

Prof Salim Abdool Karim, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, has been appointed as the co-chair of the Planning Group for Research in International Settings in the National Institutes of Health’s Office of AIDS Research. This Planning Group will develop a set of objectives and priorities for NIH research to address critical issues in HIV/AIDS prevention in resource-poor settings for the FY2009 Trans-NIH Plan for HIV-Related Research.

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SARETI MAKES AN IMPACT  

 

The South African Research Ethics Training Initiative (SARETI) has been awarded another full grant for the next four-year cycle of training (2007-2010) following re-application for competitive renewal.

SARETI is an Africa-based, multi-disciplinary consortium created to focus on ethics and human rights in health research. It is a partnership between UKZN (School of Psychology), University of Pretoria (School of Medicine), with inputs from John Hopkins University (Bioethics Institute, Bloomberg School of Public Health) in the US. The Fogarty International Centre of the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding SARETI.

Professor Douglas Wassenaar of the School of Psychology on the Pietermaritzburg campus, is the Principal investigator of SARETI.

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SADC CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR AFRICAN CENTRE FOR FOOD SECURITY  

 

The African Centre for Food Security (ACFS), based in the School of Agricultural Sciences and Agribusiness, received a vote of international and regional confidence when it won the bid for the establishment of the SADC Centre of Excellence for Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis. According to Professor Sheryl Hendriks, Director of the ACFS, “the development of a SADC Centre of Excellence along with African Union/NEPAD endorsement will open the doors to endless opportunities for capacity development and constructively contribute to addressing hunger in Africa”. UKZN is currently the only institution of higher learning in the world to offer accredited qualifications in food security.

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NEW CALS DIRECTOR  

Eminent academic, Professor Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane has been appointed Director of the Centre for African Literary Studies (CALS) on the Pietermaritzburg campus.
Professor Mzamane served as the first post-apartheid Vice-Chancellor and Rector at the University of Fort Hare. He has taught English Studies, Comparative Literature, and African Studies at Universities in Southern Africa, West Africa, Europe, the US, and Austrailia.

A seasoned writer, Professor Mzamane is the author of a number of books and the editor of numerous publications. He serves on the SABC Board and the Heraldry Council and served for eight years as the founder chair of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, as the founding patron of the Freedom of Expression Institute, and the founding director of the Book Development Council of Africa.

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WORKSHOP ON CIRCUMCISION FOR HIV PREVENTION  

 

An exploratory meeting on social science perspectives on male circumcision for HIV prevention was hosted by UNAIDS and CAPRISA in Durban on 18 and 19 January 2007.

The objectives of the consultation meeting held in Durban was to explore cultural, social and other aspects related to the proposal to scale up the offer of male circumcision services in high HIV prevalence settings and to develop recommendations for research and action.

The meeting was attended by 30 participants including social and biomedical scientists from research and academic institutions from around the globe.

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UKZN HOSTS NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE  

 

UKZN International hosted Ms Kwek Puay Swan the Deputy Director of the International Relations Office and Mr Ow Yew Sim, Manager of Africa & Europe Section from the National University of Singapore in early February.

At their meeting with Professor Ahmed Bawa (DVC-Research, Knowledge Production and Partnerships) the visitors discussed strategic research initiatives. The two universities carry out similar research in the fields of Materials Research, Water Research, and Ethics and Bioethics Research. Logistics Research is another potential area of collaboration.

The National University of Singapore has been ranked amongst the World’s Top 20 and top 3 universities in Asia in the QS World University Rankings 2006 conducted by the Times Higher Education Supplement.

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CERTIFICATES IN ISLAMIC LAW  

 

Thirty three graduates celebrated receiving certificates for successfully completing the course in Islamic Law on 28 January this year.

Started three years ago, the course is only offered at UKZN. It takes one year for students to complete the eight-module course. Lectures are held at the Howard College campus on a part-time basis, with students attending every alternate Saturday morning. More than 70 students have graduated over the past three years.

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DEDICATION CEREMONY  

 

The Discipline of Clinical Anatomy in the College of Health Sciences held its 14th Annual Dedication Ceremony last month to encourage students to respect the cadavers which are used in the training of medical students.

Guest speaker, KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Vuka Tshabalala said that law and medicine have a great deal of influence on each other. He appealed to medical practitioners to ensure that patients’ rights to privacy are protected.

The Minister of Arts, Culture and Tourism in KwaZulu-Natal Mrs Weziwe Thusi, commended the Medical School for having produced graduates who are not only concerned with healing the sick but have a social conscience and courage.

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DANCING TO SCOTLAND  

 

A member of the Surialanga Dance Company and two teachers from Hillview Primary have been invited to showcase their dancing and teaching skills in Edinburgh, Scotland. UKZN alumnus Sibusiso Ndebele (dancer) and the teachers Mr Ashok Angadth and Mrs Kapilla Maharaj will be leaving for Edinburgh on 19 March.

The Director of Surialanga Dance Company, Professor Suria Govender says: “it is gratifying for both Sbu and I to see how fully international visitors are involved in learning about the different cultures of our province.”

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SCIENCE PRIZE  

 

Science honours student Pie-Pacifique Kabalira-Uwase, from the Faculty of Science and Agriculture has been awarded the Damant Science Prize for 2006 in recognition of his involvement in student activities and leadership qualities, as well as his academic record.

“I feel so grateful for this surprise from the Faculty of Science and Agriculture. It shows that the Faculty appreciates what students do,” says Pie-Pacifique. He says that he learnt so much at the University besides his academic knowledge, adding that all the University structures are ready to support willing students to achieve their goals.

He urges all students to make use of the available services and facilities. He has been involved in the Science Students Council, the Physics Society, and the Students’ Leadership Bursary Fund, which will be launched soon.

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VISITING FULLBRIGHT SCHOLAR  

 

Fullbright scholar, Professor Patrice Nicholas from the US, will spend six months in the School of Nursing where she will undertake research in the quality of life of persons living with HIV/AIDS and adherence to ARV’s. She is currently a Professor at the MGH Institute of Health Professions at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham Women’s Hospital where her main areas of research interest are in peripheral neuropathy in HIV/AIDS and the Quality of Life in HIV/AIDS.

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DR COHEN OF UNC AND CHAVI CLINICAL CORE VISITS CAPRISA  

 

Dr Myron Cohen, the Director of the NIH-funded Center for HIV-AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) Clinical Sites and Repository Core (CHAVI Core B), recently spent two days in Durban visiting CAPRISA. During his trip he also visited the other CHAVI001 sites based in Africa.

While at CAPRISA, Dr Cohen presented a lecture on “Amplified Transmission of HIV Advances and Opportunities”. His presentation provided a comprehensive overview of HIV transmission probabilities and highlighted some of the problems in interpreting the data.

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THE WRITING PLACE  

 

The Writing Place is a student-driven initiative under academic supervision, to assist the university community with academic writing. It is a firmly established institution at UKZN with a long history on the Howard College campus and is now flourishing on the Westville campus.

Under the guidance of Ms Caroline Goodier, two post-graduate students, Paul Court and Justin Visagie, co-ordinate the functioning of the facility.

Almost 800 students visited the Westville facility in the J-block during 2006 and had the opportunity to discuss (sometimes multiple) drafts of their assignments with a consultant. Some staff members have expressed an interest to consult with the Writing Place over drafts of their own academic writing.

The Writing Place is located in J-block, lower ground, J206 and may be contacted on 031 260 2121.

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